When Queen Victoria died Britain was one of the most important nations in the world.
The Edwardian period began on January 22nd 1901, after the death of Queen Victoria. At this time the British Empire was a leading world power and London was the economic capital of the world.
Rich Edwardians liked to show off their wealth.
Edward VII was very fond of large cigars, large meals and rich French cuisine. His tastes were copied by the fashionable rich. The Victorian belief in strict religion, duty and the need for self-improvement, that had controlled their behaviour, was now eased. More
The Edwardian era was an age of elegance.
A French style, known as Art Nouveau, was popular. It used simple but decorated fixtures and fittings. The rich Edwardian home was lighter and airier than the Victorian home, and did not have the same clutter. More
The rich house was still grand.
The men of trade and industry loved to show off their wealth and enjoyed all the pleasures their money could buy. Giving a house party lasting for several days was popular. More
The period up to 1914 is remembered as "The Beautiful Epoch".
Gentlemen dressed very smartly and a rich Edwardian lady could change her clothes as much as six times a day. More
Women's fashions became more comfortable, with lighter materials and a softer style.
From 1910, suffragettes influenced fashion and clothes became more practical, with designs copied from men's clothing.
Life was not so much fun for the servants.
Servants had to be seen and not heard. They were expected to go about their work efficiently and quietly and never question their 'betters'. Servants worked long days with little time off. More
The sick and unemployed were even worse off.
Even the hardworking servants of the rich were better off than the labourers who worked in poorly paid industries, or the sick and the unemployed. These people could barely afford to feed themselves and their families. More
It was a time of great political change.
Abroad in Russia, revolution was brewing. At home, despite the British class system, society was becoming more democratic. The Liberals, who came to power in 1906, introduced a number of reforms to help the unemployed and sick, and the Labour Party (which represented the workers) was rising as a political force. More
A 'people's budget' raised money for old age pensions through taxation.
In Britain in 1909, King Edward VII came into conflict with the Liberal government when the House of Lords rejected the 'People's Budget' (which had been passed by the House of Commons). The bill eventually became law. More
The year 1911 saw the beginning of a time of industrial unrest in Great Britain.
The mood of the country began to change. The growing trade union movement fought for improved working conditions and better pay. In 1912, the ocean liner "Titanic" sank after hitting an iceberg. Some believe that this event saw the beginning of the end of Edwardian glamour and excess. More
As the Edwardian era drew to a close, women were demanding the vote.
The Women's Social and Political Union (WSPU), better known as 'the suffragettes', took part in acts of protest such as public demonstrations and window breaking. Many were jailed for these offences. More
A variety of sports were becoming popular and cinema was just starting.
In 1910, the Olympic Games were held in London. New plays were written for the theatre by playwrights such as George Bernard Shaw and Harley Granville Barker. The music hall remained popular and people were becoming interested in the new moving pictures (cinema). More
In the Edwardian era, shopping became a leisure pastime.
A huge number of retail shops opened and the ‘high street’ was born. New fashions, brands and home accessories were appearing all the time. More
There were many scientific advances.
Scientific discoveries, which were such a feature of the Victorian era, continued. In 1910, Scott and his team left for their ill-fated scientific expedition to the South Pole. Between 1907–1915 Einstein was at work developing his Theory of Relativity. The era also saw the discovery of quantum theory, genetic heredity, atomic structure, superconductivity and sonar.
Many new inventions were to do with travel.
The Wright brothers made their first flight in 1903. Then, in 1909, Louis Bleriot flew across the English Channel. The first model T Ford car was sold in 1908. More
1914 saw the start of WW1.
In June 1914, a Serbian terrorist assassinated Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria, in Sarajevo. This event led very quickly to the outbreak of the First World War. In the first 18 months of war, 2.4 million men signed up voluntarily. Fighting continued on the Western Front until 11 a.m. on November 11th, 1918. More
WWI was one of the most destructive wars ever fought.
The technology that the Victorians had thought would help to unite the world in peace was, instead, used to cause the most horrible deaths and injuries. WW1 saw machine guns, flamethrowers, grenades, tanks and gas used widely for the first time. More
Life in Britain itself was hugely changed by the war.
For the first time in a war, civilians were targeted, when German bombs fell on parts of Britain. The whole nation was under the rule of DORA (Defence of the Realm Act), which also saw rationing introduced at the very end of the war. More
One effect of the war was to speed up social and political change
Women took on many new roles, in place of the men who were away fighting, and were reluctant to give up this freedom. After such a destructive war, fewer people still were prepared to toil away their lives just for a minority of people to enjoy a rich living. More