Victorian Funeral Practices

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The Victorians are known for their fascination with death. During the Victorian era (1837-1901) they took death very seriously, no expense was spared when arranging a proper funeral. During this time most American’s lives became restricted to the family. As the emotional focus of people narrowed to the immediate family, the significance of the final act expanded. We will take a closer look at Victorian funeral practices by focusing on one home and the death of Andrew Lowe in 1886. The Andrew Lowe house was designed by architect John Norris in 1847. It is a three story building in the Italianate style with brick over stucco, cast iron balconies and a fairly rigid floor plan. It has a classical entrance with massive doors. The first story is set below street level. The family dining room, kitchen, pantry and servants room were placed on this floor. The second floor was the principal floor of the home. There were parlors, dining room, library and butlers pantry. The top floor had five bedrooms and a bathing room. Wide halls extended the length of each floor and a stairway joined the parlor and bedroom floors. Andrew Lowe bought the land and started building in 1847. While the house was under construction Andrew Lowe’s wife, Sarah Hunter Lowe and four year old son died. He moved into the house with his two young daughters. He remarried Mary Couper Stiles five years later and had three more daughters and a son and heir, William Mackay Low who would marry Juliette Gordon six months after Andrew Lowe’s death in 1886.

Though we do not have many facts about his death or funeral we can conjecture what may have taken place by looking at the common rituals and practices at the time. I could find no record of cause of death, if he was ill the setting for death was at home, in bed. Each family member would be called to the bedside to be given advice, farewell and blessing.

When his death occurred telegrams...
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