Page 9 - History 2020
P. 9

But this was not the popular view. In fact, it rather stole the show. Queen Victoria
            loved it and made two visits. It attracted many visitors and was awarded a medal of
            excellence by the exhibition organisers. Many saw it as defending a lost tradition of

            hand-crafted skills over the excessive mechanisation of the industrial age (a theme
            we will explore later with William Morris). Others liked its religious associations;
            influential Victorians like John Henry Newman shared Pugin’s Catholic faith. The
            decision to include Pugin reflects well on the open-mindedness of the exhibition’s
            organisers, but his success confirms the strength of the “escape to the past” theme in
            Victorian opinion.

            Two features of the Great Exhibition of 185 were remarkably innovative. The less

            well-known one is that the Crystal Palace housed the world’s first public
            conveniences. They were nicknamed “monkey closets”. For a penny, services
            included shoe-shining and the use of a towel and a comb. 827,280 visitors used them.
            This is the origin of the old phrase, “a wash and brush-up”. They were the invention
            of Victorian plumber George Jennings, who also invented the flushing toilet (not, as is
            often credited, another Victorian plumber, Thomas Crapper; he merely invented the
            ball-cock). Flushing toilets became standard in new homes after 1881.  We have

            much to thank the Victorians for.
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