Hampshire Records Office Talk

On March 29th at 13.15 at Hampshire Record Office Dr Jane Hamlett from Royal Holloway University will be giving a talk Cats, Dogs and Other Pets in Victorian and Edwardian Hampshire.

Hampshire Archives and Local Studies

Today almost half of British homes contain at least one companion animal. A recent survey found that eighty-nine percent of owners considered them to be part of the family. Although people have had pets for hundreds of years, the pet-keeping relationship as we know it today didn’t emerge until the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

This talk will explore the place of pets in British family life across the course of two centuries. During the Victorian period, large numbers of people began to celebrate pets as part of home and family life. The nineteenth century saw the emergence of a movement against animal cruelty, with the foundation of the RSPCA, which paralleled the growing enthusiasm for pets. While the Victorians favoured dogs they also kept a range of animals including exotic creatures imported from the Empire and British birds and squirrels, hedgehogs and mice obtained from local fields and hedgerows. Pet keeping changed in the twentieth century, as there was a growing perception of the need to protect wildlife, and urban living encouraged certain kinds of pets, such as indoor cats, that could easily live in flats.

Using examples taken from personal papers and photograph collections of Hampshire men and women and held at Hampshire Record Office the talk will explore how and why pets came to be so significant in British family life, and how we can explain changing trends in pet keeping.

For details on how to get to Hampshire Records Office please click here.