7 Highly Intriguing Victorian Halloween Traditions

By jake rossen | sep 24, 2021.

Victorians saw Halloween as a time to worry about marriage. And bake cakes with needles in them.

Leave it to the Victorians to celebrate Halloween in style. Their 19th-century aesthetic resulted in what we consider today to be strange societal quirks, from bizarre jobs (like leech collector) to fun slang (sad people “got the morbs”) to highly impractical fashion (toxic dyes and flammable fabrics were often the price of beauty).

So what did these over-the-top gigglemugs think of Halloween? Their architectural style, after all, lent itself well to our modern idea of a haunted house, mostly because the 20th century brought about a rejection of the opulent homes of the era. But Victorians weren't big on the creep factor. Instead, Halloween was a time to amp up their already irreverent behavior. Check out seven Halloween traditions from the Victorian spooky season.

1. Victorians liked to try and predict their marital status on Halloween.

Marriage: The scariest Halloween subject of them all.

When you think of Halloween, you think goblins and pumpkins. But in the Victorian era, revelers often turned their thoughts to walking down the aisle. Parlor games that were thought to have some insight into a person’s future were popular at the time. One such game involved a woman walking into a dark room, alone, and standing in front of a mirror. As they peeled an apple—try not to ask why that part was crucial—the woman might be able to see the reflection of the person they would someday marry. Alternately, they’d see a skeleton, in which case they’d die alone.

Another manner of speculation was to bake cakes containing a needle, thimble, dime, or ring. In addition to being an excellent way to choke or injure yourself, the cakes were believed to foretell marriage. A needle or thimble in your slice meant spinsterhood, since you’d apparently have plenty of time to sew; a dime or ring meant good fortune or wedding bells.

The Vics were also preoccupied with Halloween tea time, a social gathering with tea and snacks that could also be the setting for assessing their dating future. The women would use a teacup and suspend an empty spoon on the edge. Using a second spoon, they’d drip tea into the first spoon until it fell into the cup. Each drop corresponded with a year they’d have to wait before marriage. Again, this was before television.

2. Victorians liked to carve up turnips for Halloween.

Pumpkins were definitely a Halloween tradition, but they weren’t the only vegetable that the Victorians used around the holiday. Turnips (also called neeps ) were a common resource for seasonal carving and even for making turnip lanterns. This could sometimes prove dangerous: In Scotland in 1899, a man angered a small army of children by refusing to accommodate their demands for candy. When he opened the door, a turnip hit him in the face, breaking his nose.

3. Victorians were handy with party invitations.

Leaving a pumpkin on a doorstep meant it was time to party.

To be invited to a Halloween party was to be welcomed into a social event. Instead of just asking someone to attend, party organizers would sometimes leave carved pumpkins on the doorsteps of prospective guests. According to author Lesley Bannatyne, the jack-o'-lanterns were usually accompanied by handmade, written invitations complete with verse:

"Come at the witching hour of eight And let the fairies read your fate; Reveal to none this secret plot or woe—not luck—will be your lot!"

4. Victorians knew how to set a Halloween mood.

Once you arrived at a party, the atmosphere was lit—literally. Homes were usually completely dark, save for jack-o'-lanterns and fireplaces. Faux snakes made of tin were mounted over a heat source, which made them dance; party hosts were sometimes draped in black cloaks. If they stuck a hand out to greet a guest, it might be their real hand, or it might have been an old glove filled with sawdust to prompt what must have been the first historical jump scare.

These parties were sometimes themed to tie in with popular cultural figures of the time, like Cinderella, black cats, or Mother Goose characters. Seems like Halloween has always been commercialized.

5. Victorian Halloween costumes were modest.

Victorian costumes were subtle.

When you're already dressed to the nines, it's hard to level up. Dressing up for Halloween became more prevalent in the 20th century, but Victorians still liked to go slightly incognito by customizing their normal apparel with bat wings, hats, and gothic-style accessorizing.

6. Spooky Victorian Halloween stories weren’t very spooky.

When it came time to print Halloween stories, newspapers and magazines weren’t terribly preoccupied with chilling anyone’s bones. Instead, most Halloween tales were concerned with romance, each one intended to capitalize on the preoccupation with love inherent in the season. Short stories like “Love’s Seed Time and Harvest” and “If I Were a Man, I’d Shoot Myself” were popular. While this would sometimes have an eerie element, like the protagonist exploring a scary chamber, it was usually in the service of finding love.

Not all stories were so innocuous. At parties, guests would sit around a fire and hold a burning twig. They had until the twig burned out to tell their favorite ghost story before the next person got a turn.

7. Queen Victoria really knew how to cut loose on Halloween.

Queen Victoria was a Halloween enthusiast.

Never one to let the potential for an opulent affair pass by, Halloween night with Queen Victoria was often a social event. At her part-time residence at Balmoral Castle in Scotland, the Queen would arrange for incredibly lavish parties and traditions. One featured a procession with everyone carrying torches in the wake of the Queen’s carriage. A “shandry dann,” or witch effigy, was carried around by a servant dressed as a hobgoblin until the gathering made its way to a giant bonfire, where the witch was tossed in. This grim scene was often accompanied by bagpipes and later morphed into a pseudo-courtroom dynamic, with the “witch” a metaphor for the accused. (Naturally, she was always found guilty and tossed into the fire.)

Other years, the Queen might arrange for a “demon” to bear a resemblance to someone she disliked, like Prime Minister William Ewart Gladstone, whom she once dubbed “half-mad.” Then again, he wasn't the one throwing witches into bonfires.

The Queen sometimes received backlash for these displays, as it seemed unbecoming for a Christian Queen to indulge in such affairs. It was also sometimes possible for a large crowd of people wielding torches to get out of hand. In 1874, the Queen ceased festivities for the evening when she decided the partygoers were too raucous to let inside.

10 Bizarre Victorian Things

by Elliot | History

The Victorian era lasted from 1837 to 1901. It witnessed huge social and scientific change, and some of this change was outright bizarre. We can some some very odd Victorian things in old footage from the age. From a balloonist duel to the death, to the best news report ever: here are 10 bizarre Victorian things.

The Devils Footprints

In February, 1855, Southern England had a lot of snowfall. After a night of heavy snow, a trail of footprints was discovered in the countryside. They weren’t human footprints, or those of any known animal. In fact, even today we know of no animal that could have walked the trail. They appeared to have been made by a cloven hoof in single file steps, which led to them being known as the devils footprints. Many people genuinely thought they were the devils footprints – and that Satan himself was in England that night. The devils footprints stretched on for at least 40 miles and even appeared on rooftops. There were all kinds of crazy theories on what caused them. My favourite is that a kangaroo escaped from a local zoo. Despite the appealing nature of this theory, the devils footprints remain an open mystery.

Balloon Duel

In Victorian times it was common for 2 men to duel to the death. Traditionally, the man challenged to the duel had the choice of what weapons were used and where it took place. Usually they would pick either swords or pistols, but every now and then they would be much more creative. In 1878, a Dutchman was challenged to a duel. For some reason he wanted it to happen in the sky. Both men ascended into the sky with their hot air balloons ready to do battle. Each man were given a pistol and were allowed to shoot at each other until either one or both were dead. The duel made international news after the Dutchman killed his opponent. The whole thing took place within Guyana, which is weird because both men were European. This wasn’t even the first balloonist duel. That happened in 1808 – each man armed with a blunderbuss.

Post-mortem photography

The Victorians witnessed huge leaps in photographic technology. And for some reason, this caused the most creepy trend ever. Post-mortem photography was the popular act of taking photos of dead bodies. Usually taken just after death, they were considered a completely normal aspect of Victorian life and would often be proudly displayed by the family. The corpses were usually posed as if they were still alive and sometimes people would even pose with them in the photos. A creepy aspect of the trend was the frequent post-mortem photos featuring children. This can be explained by the high Victorian infant mortality rate. The trend even encroached into the 19 hundreds, with some still being taken in the 1940s.

The Great Stink

In 1858, there was a bizarre event known as the great stink. This was a time when human and industrial waste was still being dumped into the river Thames. The dumping caused not only several outbreaks of deadly diseases – but also a horrendous smell to emit from the river. Hence the name… the great stink. The smell was made a lot worse when England was hit by a heatwave. The heatwave made life difficult for politicians who worked right next to the Thames. At one point they even had to close parliament due to the stench. Local newspapers personified the problem as a character called “dirty father Thames.” One sketch showed father Thames interacting with the scientist Michael Faraday. The sketch was a reflection of the current climate as the stink forced the government to construct London’s sewer system. The sewers cost 6 and a half million pounds and used over 300 million bricks.

Trick Horses

The Victorians were a bit more simple than us today so they were prone to being tricked. Any experienced magician could fool them into believing the paranormal. They were big on sideshows, and no sideshow was complete without a trick horse. A trick horse was a horse who supposedly had unusually high intellect. Some trick horses were said to be as intelligent as humans – and some were said to have psychic abilities. Beautiful Jim Key was a popular trick horse in America. Trained by a former slave, people would travel great distances to see him perform advanced arithmetic and recite bible passages. I find it hard to believe a horse could speak, but beautiful Jim Key became a well known celebrity. There was also a German trick horse called Clever Hans. His owner claimed he could read, write, understand German, and tell the time. So many people were taken in by this horse that the German board of education set out to investigate it. After testing the animal under controlled conditions they concluded it was just a regular dumb horse.

Crazy News Stories

Victorian newspapers weren’t very good at deciding which stories were genuinely newsworthy. The outcome of this is a variety of unusual headlines – for example when a live bull ran into a China shop in 1899. In July of 1870, an escaped monkey stole a baby from her sisters arms. Before they could do anything the monkey ran onto the roof and escaped. Only after an entire day of searching was the monkey found in a local forest. Fortunately he still had the baby with him. Another story from 1890 describes an international shipment of 19 tons of dead cats. Shipments of dead cats is just one of the many Victorian things I’m glad we left behind.

The later years of Victorian Britain saw huge interest in occultism. Occultism comes from a Latin term that means “knowledge of the paranormal” – and the Victorians loved exploring the paranormal. They would get together on dark nights and combine pseudo-science with paganistic rituals. One of the more interesting occultists was William Westcott, who founded the golden Dawn society. Golden Dawn was a secret society dedicated to studying the occult. They soon discovered a series of mysterious texts. The cypher manuscripts told of a series of rituals that could supposedly create a gateway to the spirit world. And so the order attempted to perform each of these rituals. I assume none of them were successful, but golden dawn did become well established in British society with several celebrity members. Their strength grew until Westcott left the organization. After which they faded in obscurity. Just one of many Victorian things to fade into obscurity I guess.

Ghost Hunting

On a similar subject to the golden dawn, the Victorians loved ghost hunting. In fact, it was one of the most loved Victorian things. Scientific observation was the keyword. They wanted to record personal experiences with ghosts and demons. The London dialectical society was founded in 1869 to do just that. They entered supposedly haunted houses from old legends during the winter. Their theory was that ghosts more commonly appear in cold weather. In 1871 they released a report claiming that they encountered many spirits who warned them about the future. Also that they were physically attacked by ghosts. And that they apparently saw a bunch of witches summon an army of ghosts. Which makes me wonder how scientific their methods were… because it doesn’t sound very scientific.

Body Snatching

One of the more well known aspects of Victorian society was the widespread body snatching. Body snatching is the act of stealing dead bodies from graveyards – usually to be sold to medical schools. At the time only the bodies of executed criminals were made available to medical schools. So there weren’t enough corpses to go around. This led doctors to buy them on the black market. The body snatchers would sneak into graveyards and exhume the bodies of dead people. This was such a big problem that watchtowers were installed in cemeteries, and metal caging was often laid over graves. Dead bodies would need to be physically watched over until they were buried and violent mobs would attack anyone suspected of being a body snatcher.

Queen Victoria

One of the most bizarre Victorian things was the woman who give it her name. So it’s time for a list within a list – here are 5 quick facts about queen Victoria

1 – She was only 5 feet tall

2 – Victoria was her second name. She was Alexandrina Victoria

3 – She was the first monarch to use a telephone

4 – She was victim of the first ever celebrity stalker, who once stole her underwear

5 – She was the first known case of a blood disorder called Hemophilia

I really couldn’t resist ending the topic of bizarre Victorian things without including her.

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Victorian Halloween Traditions – Now That’s Scary!

spooky victorian items

Nineteenth century Victorians had some very strange, to our eyes, norms. They included unusual occupations,  such as leech collectors, and peculiar and, in many cases poisonous, beauty rituals, including cosmetics containing arsenic, for one. Their style of architecture with its myriad hidden creaky staircases, turrets, secret rooms, underground tunnels and dark corners certainly mirrored our modern idea of a haunted house. But – believe it or not – Victorians weren’t much into the creep factor. Instead, the spooky Halloween season served as a chance for them to amp up their already irreverent style and behavior. It was a time to wonder about marital prospects, and bake cakes with needles in them!

While most of us think of Halloween as a time for pumpkins and goblins and trick-or-treating, Victorians turned their thoughts to walking down the aisle, and who might accompany them. A very popular parlor game of the time involved a man and a woman walking into a dark room and standing in front of a mirror. While peeling an apple (why ever for?), the woman would gaze into the mirror and perhaps see who her future groom might be. If, by chance, she saw a skeleton, she was doomed to be an old maid.

Another popular means of discerning one’s future marital status was to bake a cake with a needle, a thimble, a dime or a ring in it. If the slice of cake you were served contained a needle, spinsterhood was your fate, while all the other tokens indicated riches, good fortune or wedding bells. For practical purposes, another possible outcome of receiving the slice with the needle would be choking or injury. Just a thought!

As the Victorians were also very much into tea parties, they contrived a tea time game involving (what else?) tea and two teaspoons. The first spoon was placed on the edge of the cup, while the second spoon was used to slowly drip tea into the first spoon until it fell into the cup. The number of drops was said to indicate the number of years before the “ tea dropper” would marry.

Pumpkins were a Halloween tradition, but they weren’t the only vegetables used around Halloween. A popular veggie to carve was the turnip. In fact, they were often used to carve into lanterns or torches. Resourceful!

The pumpkins served another purpose – they were used as a “save the date” type of announcement. To be invited to a Halloween party was a social coup, and in order to alert the prospective guest of the impending event, a carved jack-o-lantern was left on his/her doorstep. The offering might be accompanied by a handmade card with a verse. A popular ode of the day was:

“ Come at the witching hour of eight,

And let the faeries read your fate.

Reveal to none this secret plot

Or woe – not luck – will be your lot.”    Scary!

Once the invitations were out, the atmosphere had to be set for the party. The house was always dark, except for jack-o-lanterns and fireplaces. Hostesses decorated with faux snakes made of tin, which were placed near a heat source, so they would appear to be moving. When guests were greeted, the hostess would extend her hand or possibly one made of a glove stuffed with sawdust. Eeek! Many partiers arrived wearing black cloaks, and the parties were often themed. Common themes were black cats, Cinderella, or Mother Goose. Those Victorians certainly knew how to set the mood!

However, remember the Victorians were proper and, for the most part, modest. Their party attire was accessorized with bat wings, headdresses, and gothic items. One had to appear only slightly incognito.

Now for the entertainment! Since Victorians were fascinated with anything Egyptian, a mummy unwrapping theme was sure to impress your guests. Of course, the hostess or host first had to procure a mummy, but this was not too difficult. Egyptian exporters were eager to supply mummies, and poorer Egyptian families were not adverse to making a little money off their dead ancestors. You might consider this an inheritance of sorts! Since the unwrapping might prove to be a rather smelly affair, heavy drinking before the main event was practically a necessity!

Another form of entertainment involved sitting around a fire, while holding a burning twig. The holder had until the twig burned out to tell a spooky story. It was then the next story teller’s turn.  Relatively tame!

Someone who loved Halloween, and loved the opportunity to throw an opulent, not tame party, was Queen Victoria. At her part-time residence in Balmoral, Scotland, the Queen would arrange for a lavish procession with everyone carrying torches and Her Majesty riding in an open carriage. The entourage made its way to a huge bonfire, where the effigy of a witch was tossed in, while all cheered. Sometimes an effigy of someone she disliked was the sad recipient of the bonfire. All this merriment was accompanied by wailing bagpipes. Queen Victoria sometimes received backlash for such festivities, as a large crowd bearing torches sometimes got out of hand. In 1874, she actually had to close the party down, as the crowd became so rowdy that they were too raucous to be let inside the castle for refreshments!

For those too timid, or who did not have the means to afford such extravagant entertainment, there was always apple bobbing! Not very scary but a lot cheaper!

Happy Halloween!

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Why Do We Love Spooky Victorian Style And Creepy House Decor?

spooky victorian items

It’s that time of year again. Halloween decorations have taken over the stores—giant, blow-up things, noisemakers, the silly stuff, and the scary kind. And everywhere you turn, you see haunted houses. On TV or TikTok or in your neighbor’s yard, they all look the same: an imposing mansion that has succumbed to time. The house stands empty and neglected behind intricate, wrought-iron gates, walls overtaken by ivy, windows broken, doors boarded over. Atop its turreted roof, tall, jagged spires pierce the sky, silhouetted against an ominous full moon. 

Both outside and inside, our iconic haunted house stands as a paragon of spooky Victorian style. Its architecture, decor, and, presumably, the souls cursed to haunt its crumbling walls all originate from that complex, controversial era. The second half of the 19th-century was a period of expansion, industry, and innovation, but also social repression, cultural appropriation, colonization, class strife, and gender conflicts. 

In Britain, this complexity birthed a unique aesthetic that influenced everything, including social etiquette, family life, education, medicine, art, literature, design, decor, and fashion. Equally influential was the omnipresent Victorian morality. This strict code revered the family unit, “virtue,” and traditional gender roles while vilifying anything expressing sexuality or social non-conformity. Victorian sensibilities soon took a deep hold in the US and also influenced Western Europe.

Why was the Victorian era creepy?

The realities of 19th-century life led to a cultural preoccupation with death, the afterlife, and supernatural legends, especially those representing repressed desire and rage. Sometimes called the “Victorian death cult,” this dark obsession grew into a phenomenon with powerful, far-reaching influence. More than 120 years after Queen Victoria’s death, Victorian macabre still dominates our modern concept of creepiness.

How Victoriana Came To Rule The Darkness

spooky victorian items

Although modern medicine advanced throughout the 19th century, illness and death were still part of daily life. Disease and injury claimed lives every day, and in most cases, the dying remained at home rather than in a hospital. The family was, therefore, forced to go on with life while their loved one suffered, worsened, and finally passed in their presence.

Even when death wasn’t literally on the doorstep, English subjects were constantly reminded of loss and suffering by their own sovereign. Queen Victoria, crowned in 1837, spent the last 40 years of her 63-year reign mourning her beloved husband, Prince Albert. After his death in 1861, she wore black clothing every day for the rest of her life. 

The Queen’s intense bereavement elevated aristocratic mourning customs to an art form. Widows wore black and refrained from attending most social events for two years. For other relatives, the mourning period ranged from four weeks (for a cousin) to a year (for a close family member). During long mourning periods with limited social contact and minimal fashion choices, the making of mourning art offered solace and distraction. 

spooky victorian items

Victorian hair art, like these brooches, as well as necklaces, rings, and picture frames were painstakingly constructed from locks of the departed’s hair. 

Death as entertainment

spooky victorian items

In light of the pervasive presence of death in the Victorian era, it’s hardly surprising that the morbid and macabre heavily influenced 19th-century entertainment. Tales of ghosts, vampires (Yes, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, but many other brilliant writers also brought the undead to life in the 1800s), and other monstrous horrors captured the public imagination. People enjoyed “dark tourism,” including medical museum visits, morgue tours, and public mummy unwrappings. Beginning in 1935, the Chamber of Horrors at Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in London featured scenes depicting famous murderers.

Spooky Victorian style: eclectic, Gothic, and dead

spooky victorian items

Two aesthetics dominated 19th-century exterior and interior design: Victorian eclectic and high Gothic revival.

One can see why any ghost would love eclectic Victorian interiors. There were plenty of hiding places and things to shake, rattle, roll, and haunt. Eclectic homes were filled with furniture and decor from different places, featuring multiple styles and a range of patterns, textures, and colors.

Naturally, 19th-century aristocrats showcased their wealth and worldliness with these abundant displays. But the Industrial Revolution had, for the first time ever, increased the earning power of the common people—while also giving them access to affordable decorative goods. Thus, the expanding middle class could show off their rising fortunes with clocks, figurines, china, rugs, upholstered furniture, wallpaper, and window dressings—items once reserved for the wealthiest homes.

spooky victorian items

Amidst this decorative cornucopia, Victorian macabre art was everywhere: post-mortem photographs, bizarre taxidermy, animal skulls and skeletons, and grotesqueries kept behind the glass doors of curiosity cabinets. 

High Gothic Revival

Beneath these decorative riches lay a Gothic-inspired landscape—a topography of dark, lavishly embellished wood,  jewel-toned velvet furniture, heavy, black or forest green drapes, ornate sculptures, and lamps wrought in pewter or iron. Nineteenth-century gas lamps, wall sconces, and chandeliers cast as much shadow as they did light, adding more drama and mystery.

spooky victorian items

Victorian Gothic revival architecture embraced the arches, large windows, stained glass, and religious undertones of the European Middle Ages. Interestingly, many supernatural legends of Europe occur in these ancient Gothic castles and cathedrals. Gothic revival architecture, which reached a pinnacle in the 19th-century, is still a favorite for today’s churches. But back in the 1800s, Gothic residential houses were also a big thing. Which brings us back to the Victorian haunted house.

The Victorian mansion: eternally creepy 

Residential Gothic houses, or “Victorians,” are a multi-level hodge-podge of steep roofs, decorative molding, turrets, towers, and bay windows. Unfortunately, they weren’t always constructed well, which could mean creaking stairs and groaning floors, banging wall pipes, or bats nesting in the belfry. (Yes, really!) Because the upkeep on these houses was massive, less well-off owners often struggled to fix broken steps and doors, mend threadbare drapes, or remove thriving communities of cobwebs from ceiling corners. 

Queen Victoria died in 1901, and to a great extent, so did both the prudishness and excess of her era. The 20th century ushered in a fresh new aesthetic—Modernism. Gothic revival architecture had no place in a world shaped by Frank Lloyd Wright, Cubism, Art Deco, a reverence for “progress,” and a disdain for the vulgar decadence of the previous century.

Out-of-fashion, decrepit, and structurally unsound, many creepy Victorian homes were simply abandoned. Sitting empty for years, these decaying buildings became a common sight in American neighborhoods.

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Spooky Victorian style meets American pop culture

As the 20th-century progressed, the Victorian style was increasingly seen as old-fashioned, uptight, and stuck in the past. And, what’s more stuck in the past than a ghost? It was cartoonist Charles Addams who brought this connection to popular culture. His 1930s New Yorker cartoon series, enjoyed by readers across the US, depicted a range of beings—supernatural, ghostly, monstrous, and just very, very strange—dwelling in an iconic Victorian mansion. 

spooky victorian items

But it was Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 film “Psycho” that cemented the old Victorian as the penultimate horror setting. Hitchcock’s “Bates’ Mansion,” a decaying paragon of Victoriana, is home to an insane taxidermist with a real skeleton in his closet (ok, fruit cellar). A few years later, “The Addams Family,” a 1964 TV series inspired by Addams’s work, brought the spooky Victorian style into homes across America. Today, that iconography lives on in “Wednesday,”  the new series about the family’s ultra-creepy daughter.

The Queen is Dead, Long Live the Queen

Halloween decorations aren’t the only way the Victorian era continues to influence contemporary decor. Eclectic styles such as moody maximalism, cluttercore, dark academia, and, of course, Goth all owe considerable debt to 19th-century design aesthetics.

I, for one, love them all. Including the eerie charm of the Victorian haunted house.  What about you? Which aspects of 19th-century style fit well with your personal flair? Does Victorian macabre thrill you, give you the ickies, or just kind of bore you? Do you live for eclectic maximalism? What do you love about it? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments! 

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  • Automatically lights up when plugged in
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Decorate your home with this creepy Victorian style telephone. It rings and speaks spooky phrases. It is perfect for parties and Haunted houses

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October history news

October sure was a great month for history news! I have been looking forward to sharing this roundup for multiple weeks now. A few of my favorites: 

-The match safe – a Victorian trinket I had never heard of until now. 

-Lois Bell’s passion for fashion

-A traveling museum of spooky Victorian artifacts

-Female artists you should know

Did I leave any history news stories from October out? Let us know in the comments. 

HR Brew: A brief history of office dress codes for women

Imagine being told you can’t wear pants to work…

That’s how this article starts and I have to say, this isn’t a topic that I would have thought of. But it makes sense. When women emerged into the professional world they had a lot of expectations upon them to prove they weren’t taking too much from men. The clothing they wore was one of these expectations. 

Today – the sky is the limit. But as someone who wasn’t allowed to wear pants on Sunday, this article appealed to me. What about you? 

Love history news? We drop this feature each month. Make sure you’re signed up for our newsletter so you don’t miss a month.

The Conversation: The History of the Yellow Book

Wow – there really was a progressive vein in the Victorian literary community. Those behind the Yellow Book were a part of it. Though it was only published for three years; from 1894 to 1897, it was among the first magazines to elevate female writers and left enough of an impression to be discussed still today. Reads The Conversation: 

“It considered the Victorian artistic ideal of morality as the highest quality in art to be prudish and lacking in a future.”

It also had an interesting aesthetic that I may explore in a future post. The “Beardsley women” were depicted in black and white (similar to the Gibson Girl) and featured in each issue. It was also widely popular enough to be the inspiration for the following painting. 

spooky victorian items

Fine Homes and Living: Everything You Need to Know about Victorian Coving

A building’s ceilings and moldings say a lot about the era it was designed. Also called “covings,” there is a particular style that is a hallmark of Victorian architecture. Do you want to add some 19th-century flavor to your home? This Fine Homes and Living post covers the types of Victorian coverings and their advantages. A great post! 

Publishers Weekly: The 10 Histories of Women in WWII

What more is there to learn about WWII? Well, the stories of women, of course! And a lot of historians are doing it. This post recommends ten different books telling the stories of how females impacted the war. Pick one out today! 

Good Good Good: 68 Independent Women Quotes

Independent women say wise things and they should be remembered. This great post features no less than 68 great quotes by females through time, from Dolly Parton to Charlotte Bronte. My favorite: 

“Beware, for I am fearless and therefore powerful.”

— Mary Shelley

Tribune-Star: This Match Safe was a Necessity in the Victorian era 

spooky victorian items

We love talking about trinkets on this blog. And this post opened my eyes to a new one that I need to explore more. Match safes were just that – containers to keep matches safe and secure. Fire, after all, was one of the biggest dangers of the Victorian era, and one needed to be selective about using it. 

I don’t know about you, but I think this match safe would make a great necklace! 

Kokomo Tribune: Passion for Fashion

Lois Bell is my hero! Her 1845 house has two rooms full of vintage clothing and accessories. And what’s more, she knows each piece and the story behind it, even if the story is one she wrote herself. Kokomo Tribune, a newspaper out of Indiana, featured her recently and I think her story needs to go all the way to the New York Times! 

Do you have a collection of vintage clothing? What is your favorite piece? 

Fronteras: Arizona Woman Turned Her Love of Spooky Victorian Artifacts into a Traveling Museum

When was the last time you visited a museum on the go? It may be the perfect hobby or side gig for some of our readers. 

Sarah Kennard, from my home state of Arizona, has taken her love of spooky Victorian items and turned it into just that, a museum that hits the road to share the history far and wide. 

Named Flitter Mouse Traveling Victorian Museum, Kennard hosts public and private showings of her collection. I’ve got to see this on my next visit. 

The Collector: Forgotten Female Artists You Should Know

spooky victorian items

You probably know some of the big names when it comes to the last century or so of female art, but do you know the names Janet Sobel, Jeanne Mammen, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Shirin Neshat, or Mickalene Thomas? You will be very glad to learn about them each in this blog post. 

Which woman would you most like me to cover in an upcoming blog post? 

Do you enjoy history news and trends? Make sure to click on these posts:

Four fashion icons and the history of lipstick

America’s first newspaper

Purple, please. Colors in the Victorian era

The history of cottagecore

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About the author: janice formichella, related posts.

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Moscow’s urban legends: Ghosts, mutant rats under the Metro

Construction of Fonvizinskaya metro station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitriyevskaya Line in Moscow

Construction of Fonvizinskaya metro station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitriyevskaya Line in Moscow

Among the world's most famous urban legends is about alligators allegedly living in New York City's sewer system. The Russians do not lag behind the Americans in terms of the popular imagination. Some see giant rats in the metro, while others talk about ghosts and the "mutagenic radiation" of the Ostankino television tower.

The mysteries of the metro

When it comes to rumours about the Moscow subway , truth is closely intertwined with fiction. Even officials do not deny that there are classified military and government lines under the capital – the so-called "Metro-2.”

That there are classified military and government lines under the capital – the so-called "Metro-2” – is not denied even by some officials. Photo: Construction of Fonvizinskaya metro station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitriyevskaya Line in Moscow. Source: Vitaliy Belousov/RIA Novosti

Enthusiasts have, however, been unsuccessfully trying to find more accurate information for years. Is there one line there or an entire system? Or is there an underground city for 15,000 people? Typical for an urban legend, there are a thousand versions of this story. They are united by an aura of secrecy and danger.

"It was really scary to hear the sound of tarpaulin boots near the alleged entrance to Metro-2," said Konstantin, one of Moscow’s community of “diggers,” or enthusiasts who explore subterranean bunkers, wells, tunnels and other facilities. "Is it still guarded by the KGB men, or something?"

Another Moscow resident claims her digger friend was allegedly shot at by special services while searching for Metro-2. The difficult-to-verify stories by the diggers about their adventures at the closed facility add to people's curiosity.

"My grandmother told me about Metro-2 in my childhood, and then about mutant rats," recalls Moscow resident Valeria. In the 1990s, tabloids publicized stories about giant rats living in the tunnels.

So could Splinter from " Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles " find company in the Moscow catacombs? "It's all science: Radiation from rocks must cause mutations in rats," says Pavel, also from Moscow. "But they live in technical rooms, so you can't see them."

Skeptics say that the crying comes from late-working employees of the Tunisian embassy: the commissar's house is now occupied by a diplomatic mission. Source: Lori/Legion-Media

On the surface

Not only are the underground bunkers of the Soviet elite shrouded in legend, but also fairly earthly structures, such as the home of Lavrenty Beria, the USSR People's Commissar for State Security and Stalin's right-hand man.

During interrogation in 1953, Beria confessed to abducting and raping dozens of women, but the authenticity of these papers is still being debated (Beria was removed by Khrushchev in a power struggle, and the documents could have been falsified after the execution of this dangerous rival).

But the image of the sadistic Beria was firmly imprinted on the popular mind, and his house in Moscow is surrounded by dark rumours. Allegedly, an invisible car rolls on Malaya Nikitskaya Ulitsa at midnight, with its old motor rumbling. Footsteps are heard, and Beria's ghost comes to his house for violent pleasures: curious pedestrians will soon even hear a woman crying from behind the walls.

Skeptics will say that the crying comes from late-working employees of the Tunisian embassy (the commissar's house is now occupied by a diplomatic mission), but this version is much more boring, even though probably the truth.

Napoleonic soldiers and a 500-year-old witch

It is not only the city centre where legends abound.

Many people believe that hundreds of soldiers from Napoleon’s army were buried in the hills of Peredelkino, a holiday village in the outskirts of Moscow, in 1812. Paranormal enthusiasts imbue the mounds with mystical qualities, believing that electronics go haywire and travellers disappear there.

The 500-year-old witch is believed to have predicted the high-profile murder of well-known TV journalist Vlad Listyev and a fire at Ostankino in 2000. Photo: A lightning over the Ostankino TV tower in Moscow. Source: Denis Murin/RIA Novosti

In reality, however, it is likely that there are no mass graves there.

"After the difficult war with Napoleon, peasants saw its echoes everywhere, so this is an old myth," researchers of the Museum of Moscow told RIR. "In the 19th century, archaeologists excavated Slavic mounds from the 10 th and 11 th centuries. But the inhabitants of the surrounding villages still considered them to be the graves of French soldiers."

The Ostankino neighbourhood, where Europe's highest TV tower is located, is also mythologized. It is allegedly haunted by the ghost of an old woman, who was murdered in the 16 th century. Now she walks around and predicts disasters.

The 500-year-old witch is believed to have predicted the high-profile murder of well-known TV journalist Vlad Listyev and a fire at Ostankino in 2000. Sometimes these stories are complemented by vivid details – for example, the furniture in Listyev's office was allegedly gnawed after his death by animals, mutated by the tower's radiation.

Then there are less bloody rumours: for example, one about a bulldozer embedded by builders in the TV centre's building by mistake. Yana Sidorova, the author of a study about the legends of Ostankino, says the TV centre's staff do not really believe in these sorts of stories, but are quite happy to spread them.

All rights reserved by Rossiyskaya Gazeta.

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List of Famous Moscow Buildings & Structures

Reference

List of the famous landmarks that make up the Moscow skyline, listed alphabetically with photos when available. Moscow architectural landmarks as well as other major buildings, dwellings, and other structures in Moscow are included on this list. Information about these Moscow buildings is included on this list, such as when the building first opened and what architectural style it falls under. List includes both new buildings in Moscow and older historic landmarks.

List buildings include Mercury City Tower, Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow and many additional buildings as well.

This list answers the question, "What are the most famous buildings in Moscow?"

All-Russia Exhibition Centre

Almon asbury lieuallen house, bolshoi theatre, moscow, central moscow hippodrome, church of st. john the warrior, church of the intercession at fili, church of the savior on bolvany, city hall and city duma, city of capitals, dormition cathedral, moscow, dynamo sports palace, dynamo stadium, eduard streltsov stadium, eighth sister, federation tower, grand kremlin palace, house on mosfilmovskaya, kyiv railway terminus, moscow, kotelnicheskaya embankment, kotelnicheskaya embankment building, luzhniki palace of sports, luzhniki stadium, mason cornwall house, mcconnell-mcguire building, megasport arena, memorial gymnasium, mercury city tower, monument to the conquerors of space, moscow choral synagogue.

  • Buildings/Attractions
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Lists and galleries of some of the most famous, interesting, and beautiful buildings around the world and throughout history.

Construction of Iconic Landmarks

IMAGES

  1. Creating Decor for Your Own Spooky Victorian Tea Party / my tea diary

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  2. Victorian Halloween Ornaments (Set of 4) from Victorian Trading Co

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  4. Creating Decor for Your Own Spooky Victorian Tea Party / my tea diary

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  5. Death and the Lady

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  6. Vintage Halloween Portrait Spooky Victorian Skeleton Men

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    Victorian Halloween Traditions - Now That's Scary! Posted on October 2, 2021 by Gaslamp Foundation. 02. Oct. Nineteenth century Victorians had some very strange, to our eyes, norms. They included unusual occupations, such as leech collectors, and peculiar and, in many cases poisonous, beauty rituals, including cosmetics containing arsenic ...

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    Spooky Victorian Traditions 101 Hiring a medium. For various reasons, mediumship and Spiritualism had their HEYDAY in the Victorian Era. Victorians in both England and America were obsessed. Attending seances, hiring mediums, and consulting Spiritualists were mainstream practices for several decades during this time.

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  14. 20 Everyday Items From The Victorian Era Vs. How They Look Today

    Many of the popular things from the Victorian Era are still in use today, adapted over the 20th century. Other Victorian items reveal the legacy of the era, offering a glipse into some of your favorite possessions and how they were used a century ago. Take a look at some popular Victorian stuff and see how it matches up to everyday items you ...

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  16. Why We Love Spooky Victorian Style

    Equally influential was the omnipresent Victorian morality. This strict code revered the family unit, "virtue," and traditional gender roles while vilifying anything expressing sexuality or social non-conformity. Victorian sensibilities soon took a deep hold in the US and also influenced Western Europe. Why was the Victorian era creepy?

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  19. October history news

    -The match safe - a Victorian trinket I had never heard of until now. -Lois Bell's passion for fashion-A traveling museum of spooky Victorian artifacts ... Sarah Kennard, from my home state of Arizona, has taken her love of spooky Victorian items and turned it into just that, a museum that hits the road to share the history far and wide.

  20. Moscow's urban legends: Ghosts, mutant rats under the Metro

    It is allegedly haunted by the ghost of an old woman, who was murdered in the 16 th century. Now she walks around and predicts disasters. The 500-year-old witch is believed to have predicted the ...

  21. City of Moscow Services & Schedule

    Items that are around or fall from your roll-cart during collection are the responsibility of the customer. To avoid this, please tie off all garbage in plastic bags and place in roll-cart. If your garbage or recycling is missed, please call INW at (208)882-5724 as soon as possible.

  22. Halloween 2024 Events & Activities Near Moscow, ID Area

    Fright Night - Night of the Living Dead was hosted at Kenworthy Performing Arts Centre. Trunk or Treat was hosted at Eastside Marketplace. Halloween 2023 Events Near Moscow, Idaho. Street Carnivals, Ghost Tours, Family Friendly Events, Spooky Costume Parties, Pub Crawls, Eerie Moscow, Idaho Attractions, Halloween Horror Nights and more.

  23. List of Famous Moscow Buildings & Structures

    Updated June 9, 2017 28.3K views52 items. List of the famous landmarks that make up the Moscow skyline, listed alphabetically with photos when available. ... The residence is a Victorian Italianate style house constructed of brick with a stucco finish. It is architecturally significant as one of the finest houses of its period in this area. The ...