British History: Victorian Era

Contributor: Suzanne Riordan. Lesson ID: 13288

When did Britain have its biggest empire? When was the first World's Fair? When did railroads first cross all over the UK? It was all during the Victorian Era! Meet Victoria, and re-create her style!



learning style
Auditory, Kinesthetic, Visual
personality style
Lion, Otter
Grade Level
Middle School (6-8)
Lesson Type
Dig Deeper

Lesson Plan - Get It!

  • Have you ever heard of a Victorian Christmas?

Victorian means it's in some way related to Queen Victoria.

  • So, just what does Queen Victoria have to do with Christmas?

Watch Getting Dressed - Queen Victoria - Christmas 1848 from CrowsEyeProductions:

Queen Victoria ruled England from 1837 to 1901.

These years are called the Victorian Age. It was a time of marvelous inventions and great changes in society.

Victoria's Childhood

Victoria had rather a sad childhood, as is explained in this portion of the video Fit to Rule... Hanoverians to Windsors, from Henry Harold:

Victoria became queen at age 18.

Queen Victoria, 1843

Image by Henry Pierce Bone after George Hayter, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

Watch a portion of Who Was The Real Queen Victoria? | A Monarch Unveiled (Part 1 of 2) | Real Royalty for the story:

Victoria and Albert Marriage

A few years later, Victoria married a prince from Germany, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha. It was a happy marriage overall, and together they had nine children.

The Royal Family in 1846

Image by Franz Xaver Winterhalter, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

Albert's Death

Albert died in 1861 at the young age of 42, and his death devastated Victoria. She had relied on him for so many years that she found it almost impossible to live without him. She became very depressed and did not want to carry on with the demands of being queen.

Although Victoria grieved for Albert for the rest of her life, she was eventually persuaded to return to public life.

Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli convinced her to take on the title of Empress of India when Britain took control of the country. Victoria loved the new title!

Grandmother of Europe

In her later years, Victoria became known as the Grandmother of Europe.

  • Can you guess why?

Victoria's children married into royal families all over Europe. Her grandchildren became the new princes and princesses of these countries, so many European countries could claim her as their grandmother.


During the Victorian Age, Britain expanded its empire greatly. It actually became the largest empire in history!

During Victoria's reign, the empire included a quarter of the world's population.

map of the British Empire in 1921

Image by Vadac, via Wikimedia Commons, was released into the public domain.

  • Which countries can you pick out on the map as being part of the empire?


The Victorian Age is also called the Age of Invention.

In 1851, Prince Albert helped organize a Great Exposition in London, which showed off Britain's inventions and innovations. It was the first World's Fair!

the Crystal Palace during the Great Exhibition of 1851

Image by J. McNeven, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

What were some of the new things that were invented during this time?

  • photography
  • telephones
  • telegraph
  • typewriters
  • bicycles
  • automobiles
  • gas lights
  • electric light bulbs
  • dynamite
  • sterilization of medical instruments (cleaning them to remove germs)
  • railroads were built all over Britain

Learn more about Victorian inventions with Horrible Histories - Victorian Inventions Song | Horrible Songs | Vile Victorians:

Changes in Society

Victoria believed that all children should have a chance to get an education. Poor children finally had a chance to learn when a law was passed saying that all children 5 to 12 had to go to school.

Charities were established to help the poor, and orphanages opened up to take in abandoned children.

Lawmakers finally began to stop factory and mine owners from using young children for labor. A law was passed saying that children could not be used as mine workers, and only children over 10 could work in factories. Later on, the hours they could work was limited as well.

As the railroads made travel easy and cheap, many people were able to take trips to the seaside and enjoy the new recreation called sea-bathing. A large wheeled cart called a bathing machine would carry them from the beach into the water!

bathing machine, circa 1910

Image, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

  • Would you like to try sea-bathing using a bathing machine, or does that seem silly to you?

Sporting events became popular at this time, too. Many enjoyed watching sports such as rugby football:

England and Scotland match, circa 1893

Image from Rugby Pioneers, via Wikimedia Commons, is in the public domain.

Music halls provided cheap entertainment as well. People could go there to watch plays and acts by comedians, and listen to music.

You've learned about Victoria and the age named after her! Now, move on to the Got It? section where you can test your knowledge and gather together some of the facts you've learned.

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