I have loved dolls, history, and the Victorian Era since I was little and can credit my grandmother for that. As a young girl she gave me a Godey’s Fashion print for August 1870 from my great, great Aunt Flossie. I was captivated by the dresses and became hooked. I just love to research everything and anything about the Victorian Era. I also love to design Victorian dolls. I hope you enjoy my Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions,The Victorian Era, and Me blog.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Opulance and Menopause - A Strange Combination!

The other day my sister, sister-in-law and I decided to visit Newport, Rhode Island for a little shopping and touring of some of the mansions.

It was a windy, crisp day - which for me was alternatingly warm, cool, clammy, cold and sometimes HOT (darn that menopause).  So, I was glad I was dressed in layers.

Jackets on, jackets off.   Sweating to death and then needing warmth from the chill.

We decided to do some shopping first and then visit The Breakers, Rosecliff, and one other mansion.

While we were shopping one of the shop owners noticed I had picked up a book on Doris Duke and suggested that we might want to visit her Rough Point mansion as, in her opinion, it was the best mansion in Newport. She proceeded to tell us how much Doris Duke had done for Newport so, we decided to include her mansion at the end of our visit and thanked the shop owner for her suggestion.

I had been to The Breakers several years before with hubby and my mother. At that time it was lead by a tour guide. This time they had headphones and a self directed tour - which I really liked as you could go at your own pace.

The last time I was there I was struck by the richness of the mansion, but this time it really hit me as to how opulent it really was. At one point the cassette tape was saying that the Vanderbilt's had stressed to the architect and designer that they wanted the mansion and its' interior design to be simple.

Well, what I was looking at was in sharp contrast to the cassette tape that was saying that the Vanderbilt's didn't consider their mansion to be elaborately decorated and, in fact, deliberately instructed the architect and designer to make it simple. If that was "simply decorated" then I'd hate to see what they considered "elaborately decorated" to be!

This time I was also struck by how much work went into creating the mosaic room. The walls, ceiling and floor were all constructed of tiny mosaic tiles. I could only imagine at how long it took to create just that room. It was just incredible - opulent, but incredible.

I was also stuck by the fact that one of the rooms was off limits to all the women of the house (including Mrs. Vanderbilt) and one of the rooms was off limits to all the men of the house (including Mr. Vanderbilt). Can you imagine living in your own house and not being able to go into one of the rooms because you were a female?

This just reinforced my notion that while I LOVE the Victorian Era fashions I would have had a real problem with Victorian Etiquette. My feminism and the Victorian norms of the time would certainly clash.

When I was leaving I found two books in the Breakers gift shop that I thought would be interesting reference for the Victorian Etiquette series I've been writing for years on my Linda's Blog and here on my "Victorian Dolls, Victorian Traditions, The Victorian Era and Me" blog.

The two books I found were as follows:

Essential Handbook of Victorian Etiquette
The Essential Handbook of Victorian Entertaining

Just browsing through them I knew they would provide some interesting material and, perhaps, humorous discussion for my blogs.  So, I bought them.

And, of course, when I was just perusing the section on the wife's duties in marriage I had to relay this to my sister and sister-in-law.

I have to admit, we are all feminists so there wasn't much within that article that we could agree with - at least not by today's standards.

I had to wonder, however, would we be more refined had we been born in the Victorian Era or be just as feminist as we are today?  The answer to that question we'll never know.

In any event,  I decided to use some of the material in the books as research for a continuation of my Victorian Etiquette series.

When we finished touring The Breakers we toured Rosecliff, which is where the movie "The Great Gatsby" was filmed.  Then we drove to Rough Point, but were disappointed that it was closed.

Oh, well!  We'd have to return another day.

More shopping and touring - not a bad way to spend a windy, crisp day. 

Now if I can just get rid of those hot flashes!

Hmmmm..... wonder if Victorian women got hot flashes? 

And, if they did, how did they handle it?


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