The History of Bradford
Bradford began as a minute village but at the turn of the 19thcentury the population increased at a rapid rate, this lead to death rates to augment which meant that a cemetery was urgently needed.Time took its toll and life in Bradford became worse and by 1854 the Undercliffe Cemetery was created.This cemetery contains such facets that are very idiosyncratic and display Victorian life in a unique way.
The main focus of this paper will be on the different features of the site and how they support and contradict the Victorian values and attitudes, along with my research I will also be extracting evidence from the burial ground and analysing both primary and secondary sources in order to find out how the site has interpreted and shown the Victorian attributes Value 1: Social Status For those in the upper classes of society etiquette was an essential way of living, Victorian society was prominently concerned about every aspect of their life.
From the moment the upper-class left their beds their day was ruled over by many do’s and don’ts.
Victorian society although may have been strict on an array of rules, it could also be quite pleasant but only depending on your financial status. The cemetery itself supports the idea of the high class holding onto their social position for example in site 4 the Illingworth mausoleum portrays many characteristics such as the tomb itself being built inside with lavish marble in order to keep the bodies cool and the sphinx guarding the tomb gives the impression that they were in some cases showing off that they had travelled to a foreign country.
This mausoleum in particular is a great feature of the cemetery that represents how important social status was to the Victorians this is because the tomb itself contains such descriptive detail that evidently shows the Illingworth’s were beginning to show their status in society. Their grave appears to show their importance and wealth due to its intricate design and detail such as the sphinx.
This evidence of the illingworth’s mausoleum is a pure example of how the cemetery contains a feature which supports the Victorian values and attitudes regarding the social status of the upper class Victorians. While gathering my evidence of the Victorian value’s I came across a source in form of an image that in some aspects supports as well as contradicts the way the cemetery has portrayed social status and social class. A painting by J.
Ritchie which was produced in 1858 that goes by the name of ‘A summer’s day in Hyde Park’ contains various activities that can be seen and amidst them various people that portray different classes in 19th century society. Although this source was written four years after the cemetery was created it provides illustrative substantiation that the affluent citizens wanted to stand out therefore they are painted with a white colour bringing out their importance whereas the workers and servants are daubed with a dull colour which shows how they were kept in the dark and were not to be seen.
Along with the rich being highlighted the image brings out some metaphorical evidence which can be seen within Undercliffe Cemetery, in the painting the upper class are placed in the centre of the image this idea supports the cemetery because the rich are in fact the most dominant and are placed within the centre of the burial ground to show their importance.
Social status was a very important value that the Victorians held onto it was their way of expressing who they were, the cemetery’s features can in fact support the idea of social status being one of the main features that are thoroughly explained, this source in particular has added to my understanding that this burial ground is in fact categorised and certain sites within the cemetery were only for certain classes. My own research on the source and on social status gives the impression that the cemetery supports the indication of Victorian society being very cautious on their title and position.
Value 2: Family Values Although position in society was of importance to Victorians they also had another value which can be seen throughout the cemetery this was their family. There were many rules regarding the family which would consist of the father being the head of the house and he was always to be obeyed. In public, children were expected to be seen and not heard. At Undercliffe Cemetery I observed a tomb located in site 3 which belonged to The Behrens family, they had decided to include everybody’s name that was in their family implying that they were all buried together.
This grave brings out a feature of the cemetery that supports that family values were an important element in the Victorian life. It also provides evidence that this value was seen as some importance due to the way it was shown in the cemetery. The family during the 19th century was very similar between the Upper and middle class but also differed in many ways. Each member of the family had its own place and children were taught ‘to know their place’ Most days the middle and upper class children saw very little of their parents.
The children would spend most of their time in the nursery and would be brought up by their nanny. This information helps me understand insight into a child’s life from an opulent background it shows how the family values in Victorian times were very stringent and the cemetery doesn’t give any evidence of the luxurious wealthy having this sort of background it only shows the extravagance of the graves and this enquiry on the actual rules on family etiquette was something no outsider was expected to know about.
Although family values did appear to be harsh a very well-known British painter named William Powell Frith did a very good depiction of how important family was to the average Victorian family. His painting which was produced in 1856 and is named ‘many happy returns of the day’ suggests that Frith’s personal life was happy and yet secretive. It shows that although the household was important to the man of the house this didn’t deter him away from the Victorian hypocrisy.
This interpretation of Victorian hypocrisy can be seen in the corner of the painting near the man himself he is seen sat next to another mistress with children from him, this suggests that family values obviously couldn’t have been as important to the husband as he may have made them out to be and scandals such as these were something that should have been avoided at all costs. This exact source regarding values of family in various ways contradicts what the cemetery is trying to display.
The source has given me a different sort of understanding that the cemetery doesn’t provide although the burial ground shows one grave with family values it’s the source that shows the true life of Victorians whereas Undercliffe cemetery has a feature that although stands out it doesn’t 100% give accurate evidence of the importance of family values to Victorians. Value 3: Paternalism
Many husbands in the Victorian epoch were considered to be paternalists they believed that they were the men of the house and women were seen as inferior ones. This notion of men being the dominant can clearly be seen at the cemetery and it therefore makes it a very distinctive feature. While studying the memorial park I came across two graves in particular one which supported the Victorian value in respects to paternalism but another which totally controverted paternalism.
These two people were in fact located on the main avenue in site 3. Firstly Robert Milligan who was a merchant and had been the MP of Bradford had a grave which was mostly dedicated to him and a small memoir regarding his wife, not only did this reveal vanity it also showed how he believed he was the man in charge and how mediocre his wife was compared to him. On the other hand a middle class man who owns the tallest pedestal within the cemetery had decided to put his wife first his name is in fact William Sharp.
He was not a paternalist but in fact quite the opposite. Paternalism was a value within the Victorian times that every man governed over, the cemetery corroborates that paternalism was in fact a facet that helps one understand where men were within society. In a more general format the cemetery’s main feature shows that paternalism was the most dominant element of the Victorian life due to the various graves that begin with the husbands or fathers name first.
Another source which was observed at the cemetery itself was William sharps grave it gainsays the cemetery as being paternalist as he decided to put his wifes name first. This displays a man who had gone against some ways of how a Victorian had lived, firstly he wasn’t an upper class gentlemen yet he is the one who worked his way to the top. This grave helps me apprehend that not everybody followed all the rules in the Victorian times some people wanted to work in order to be in a higher position in life and didn’t want to feel like they were supposed to be a certain way In order to fit in.
Even though being the man in charge, William sharp felt that his wife had the same equal rights as him and that even if he was dominant she was his wife and he loved her. In order to show his affection he may have decided to place her name before his. Paternalism does stand out well in the cemetery and William Sharps grave does indeed provide evidence that some Victorians in terms of paternalism shouldn’t be generalised as not all men believed to be the most dominant in the house. Value 4: Role of Women
While studying the site at Undercliffe Cemetery another Victorian value which I believe is a feature of the cemetery that stands out is the role of women, the site shows me that women were considered to be nothing but an ornament for one to admire, the many graves that were at the cemetery began with the husbands name this interpreted that women were seen as sub-standard compared to the males. I researched further into what life was like for genuine Victorian woman and the rights were very appalling.
To begin with women weren’t given any suffrage rights, they weren’t given any rights to own property and education for them wasn’t considered important as long as they could get a husband. This Victorian value helps me understand that life for Victorian women was quite limited they were only allowed to do certain things and were considered to be feminine and courteous. An extract from Mrs Beetons book which talks about household management and reinforces the role of women and how they should set a timetable for every aspect of their daily life.
She begins by saying ‘As the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with the mistress of a house’ This woman is trying to explain that although women aren’t superior they still have the command over the house and its their duty to make sure everything is in order. This source helps me understand that during the Victorian times the woman was supposed to keep herself busy and at the same time avoid doing chores or getting involved in business, finance or even politics they were allowed to have social gatherings and plan parties but they weren’t allowed to venture into the world of work.
The cemetery shows that women were inferior but it doesn’t give any more information of what women went through during the Victorian times therefore it in some ways supports the cemetery. This value in the Victorian era helps me understand through both the sources and my own research that women did not receive any equality and to some extent the cemetery supports this evidence.
In conclusion to all of the above Victorian values in which I have studied I can say that there are many features of Undercliffe Cemetery that support the attributes and many sources that were from that period of time that support and also contradict evidence seen at the cemetery. In my opinion I believe that although the burial ground’s features display Victorian attitudes and values to some extent they are quite inaccurate as they don’t give the full information as the true insight into the Victorian life. Therefore I believe that my own study of the sources and research has helped me understand the features of the cemetery that stand out.