The 19th Century
The early Victorian period was a very difficult time for large sections of the population. It was the period of the Industrial Revolution. The rich lived lavishly, but by now the poor were agricultural labourers working for powerful landowners. The Napoleonic Wars meant high prices, while bad harvests led to food shortages.Many country people moved to the towns to work in the new industries of the Industrial Revolution. Soon there were fish'n' chips shops everywhere,especially in the working class areas. Most people worked long, hard hours in the factories and often there was not enough to eat - strong tea became a substitute for a filling meal. But after the Irish famine in 1845, things began to improve as the transport system developed and fresh produce began to be delivered to towns in large quantities. Canned food especially meats became widely available, as did white bread. Bottled foods, cans and packets now filled the shelves of most middle-class houses.
The traditional English Christmas dinner: soup or melon, roast turkey with chestnut stuffing or cranberry sauce, roast potatoes, sprouts, carrots, Christmas pudding, mince pies, tangerines, dates, nuts, chocolates. British people sent Christmas cards to their relatives and friends wishing 'A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year".