Christmas in England, 1861

From Fallen Grace by Mary Hooper. Semicolon review here. Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert of Saxe-Coberg and Gotha, died on December 14, 1861. Victoria wore black in mourning for him for the rest of her life, forty more years, and “Albert’s rooms in all his houses were kept as they had been, even with hot water brought in the morning, and linen and towels changed daily.”

It was the day of Prince Albert’s funeral and a good proportion of the British Isles had come to a complete halt. Shop owners had been hoping that general trade, always slow in December and almost at a standstill since the death of the Prince, might have improved because of the festive season, but it seemed that Christmas had been cancelled that year and no one was inclined to be merry. In London, and in Windsor especially—where the funeral service was to be held in St. George’s Chapel—there was an aspect of the most profound gloom, with shops closed, work suspended, each curtain in every house drown across and the streets deserted. Everyone seen outside, however low or high, wore some symbol of mourning, and in the great churches across the land the tolling bell sounded.

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