By the middle of the nineteenth century, Weston Super Mare had grown into the most flourishing and fashionable seaside resort in Somerset, its close proximity to Bristol making it readily accessible to thousands of visitors by road and rail. Early Victorian resort economies were dependent to a large extent upon a perception of social tranquillity and calm. Despite rapid expansion, in the mid 1850s Weston still only had six constables to keep its fragile peace. Steve Poole tells the story of the series of disturbances in 1861 which shattered the towns calm façade.
Two hundred years ago, Bristol was famous for its bare-knuckle boxers. Prize fighting of the time often seem now as brutal, ferocious and devoid of skill. In this article, Matthew Napier argues that many early boxers, particularly those associated with Bristol, utilised tactical techniques which emphasised science over strength.
Leisure was a substantial part of the life of a Victorian lady. Leisure pursuits took place mostly in the domestic sphere, although attendance at theatres, concerts and flower shows increasingly brought leisured ladies into the public. Another undertaking of these ladies which brought them into the public arena was voluntary philanthropic work. Jane Howells explores the Salisbury Bazaars, where middle class local women sold the products of their leisured labour as a means of charitable fundraising.
In the eighteenth century, the Spa town of Bath was bustling with gentry who came to buy luxury goods and specialist services; but until the 1780s, very few of these visitors had been French. In this article, Trevor Fawcett follows the story of the French Courtiers at Bath in 1787, and their connection to a scandal involving Mary Antoinette on the eve of the French Revolution.