June 21, 2013

How Victorians Kept Cool

written by Rosa Morgan
The dog days of summer have arrived and with them comes the unbearable heat that proves a trial to escape. We can change into our white cotton frocks, and the men will don their seersucker suits, but more innovative measures will have to be undertaken in order to maintain a cool disposition. For decorum's sake it is necessary for us ladies not to perspire.

Fans come in all manner of materials: lace, bamboo, or pearl, and though they are ideally suited for discreet communications between lovers, they also bring swift relief on a still hot afternoon.

Gentlemen of the British Raj who truly suffer from torrid conditions find respite through the assistance of this poor fellow, known as the Punkhawala.

This lady of leisure enjoys her tea under the very large punkha hung from her ceiling. Note the string attached to the fan and leading off to the left.

It is held onto by her Punkhawalla who has fallen asleep from the demanding job.


 I find it far more egalitarian to fan myself, and this floor model is an absolute breeze to operate.

Enough of fans, let us move onto cool and refreshing beverages. Your household inventory is not complete unless you have an insulated pitcher. Made of silver and lined in porcelain, it is a far more elegant way of keeping your champagne chilled than is a bundle of wet newspapers.

It is a challenge in this heat to keep your custards from curdling but with the iceman delivering blocks of ice right to your front door; it is possible. 

 If all these measures fail to keep you cool, then head to the seaside and enjoy a dip.

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