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Looking back at the information on previous pages, how different was life for the rich and poor? Were there also similarities? For example, both groups looked forward to holidays and leisure activities. However, the types they could partake in often differed greatly.

Question

Was it just money that caused the differences in tastes in holidays and leisure activities?

The poor sometimes felt that they were part of a separate class in all aspects of their life, and the rich did too. Whilst money determined their status, working-class people tended to find the pursuits and activities of high society, such as visiting the theatre and the opera and fox hunting, to be stuffy, irrelevant and boring. In the same way, wealthier people saw the gambling and tomfoolery of the poor as a sign of a lack of class.

Question

Was there also a different mindset amongst the rich and poor because of the way they had been brought up?

Some people had very little aspiration to change the way they lived. They felt that they had been given their station in life and nothing would change that. They felt all they could do was to work hard to get the basic things they needed to live, like food and clothes. This mentality usually passed down to their children and so caused a never-ending culture of poverty within certain families and communities.

What is your interpretation of the standard of life debate? When and how much did living standards improve? Who were the 'winners' and who were the 'losers' – and why?

You can track through time the facts about everyday life in Britain by comparing the 19th century to the Middle Ages and Tudor and Stuart times, and also to the 20th century.

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