27 April 2012

Living On A Different Timeline

Posted By Happy Homemaker UK

It's been hard to put my finger on
but I feel I live on a different timeline in the UK
with history stretched over a bigger canvas

The Victorian era does not feel so long ago here,
as I hear it referred to frequently and see visual reminders daily
(1837 - 1901)

A real turning point in English history was
the Industrial Revolution
which created
a huge migration of people
from the countryside to cities
in search of work

As the pollution was horrendous in London,
wealthy Victorians built houses in the suburbs

It was the age of Darwin, Dickens, Carroll, Beatrix Potter,
Oscar Wilde, French Impressionism, and the construction of Big Ben

The Empire was at its most powerful,
extending across one-fifth of the earth
with almost a quarter of the world's population under the Queen's rule

The culture had an emphasis of all things pretty and nature-related 
as Victorians often craved the countryside they left behind

Plant and science exploration exploded
which we still benefit from in our gardens and classrooms

Today, beautiful Victorian buildings and homes remain a visual reminder
of this Golden Age

Victorian walled gardens enable tender plants to grow better with its warmth and protection

the United States was in a very different place at that time
with few visual reminders still standing

Andrew Jackson was US President when Queen Victoria was crowned
That seems quite incongruous to me

Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, California Gold Rush, The Wild West, American Civil War,
and Oklahoma was still 'Indian Territory'

Goodness, doesn't that seem like a REALLY long time ago?

Another significant turning point in recent English history was
World War II 

with its years of rations, effects of continual bombing, shattered families,
personal sacrifice, and generally changing the way the English lived yet again

Gardens that had been a source of beauty 
became an important source of food

All of England was re-purposed for the war efforts
Castles and country estates were turned into hospitals and served other military needs

Today visual reminders include
Brutalist Architecture replacing bombed buildings,
war memorials, museums, red poppies
and 'pillboxes' that dot the countryside in southeast England

WWII Pillboxes were strategically built in case of a German land invasion

Here's a few significant turning points 
in American culture and lifestyle over the past century

The Great Depression, Civil Rights Movement, The Women's Movement, 
Vietnam War, the Digital Age, 9/11

America has had smaller bursts of change more frequently in a shorter amount of time
whereas it appears England has big watershed years that last decades

To me, it feels like 'recent' history began
in the 1960s in the US,
the late 19th century in England

From my observation,
an English era generally lasts the length of a reigning monarch

This year the country celebrates the 60th year of Queen Elizabeth II's reign

Although the English can rattle off an impressive list of monarchs of the past centuries,
not so for their Prime Ministers, which seem less significant and almost a 'flash-in-the-pan'
(Churchill, Thatcher and Blair were quite memorable)

Yet with American presidential elections held every four years,
the 'eras' change quite frequently

Think of these past US Presidents and their eras over the last 60 years
while Queen Elizabeth II reigned continuously:

Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan, Clinton, Bush Jr, Obama

Each US president practically represents a shift in thinking, culture, and history
every four years!

( or eight, if re-elected )

See what I mean?

A different timeline

- all photos by me -

Reference: Wikipedia
Timeline of Queen Elizabeth II (here)

Psst - don't forget to submit your post to Post Of The Month Club at Gifts of Serendipity in a few days :)


Ariana said...

Very well said, Laura. You're right, that the historical context for just about everything here is much broader.

Sunray Gardens said...

You pretty much hit on when our major changes occur. Live goes on.

Cher Sunray Gardens

Jenny Woolf said...

Yes, interesting. The Victorian age doesn't seem that long ago to me, in most ways. I think of American history starting in about 1850 (I know it didn't really), and it is a jolt to realise how long ago that seems when I think of America, but how recently it seems when I think of England.

sarah-jane down the lane said...

How very interesting to see this from your perspective...and yes I agree the Monarchy does create this feeling of stability and longevity...I can't believe that William& Kate are about to celebrate their 1st anniversary...what a lovely day that was. Have a lovely weekend,

Sarah -x-

Sally@Enlightenment for the Sleepy said...

Yet another lovely and informative post! Beautiful pictures too. Hope you've settled nicely in your new home, Sally xx

Anne said...

Beautiful photos Laura. History is so interesting, isn't it?

Viola said...

What a well done reflections! I like the comparing also.. Interesting to read..

and such a beautiful place and photo the first one here! :)

ann said...

A very astute observation. I am drawn to England because of the history. You have written a wonderfully concise timeline. How will England change with a new king?

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Thank you! Prince Charles is very into all things organic and environmentally friendly - he has already made a big impact; I'm not sure what else he could do. It will be interesting to see

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Thank you! I figured out some new cool editing techniques that I hope to share soon :)

Happy Homemaker UK said...


Happy Homemaker UK said...

Thank you! We are totally unpacked and settled :) Now just looking for some sunshine :)

TexWisGirl said...

definitely a great look at two cultures / two countries.

Pondside said...

That was interesting and thought provoking. Here on Vancouver Island, Europeans didn't arrive until the 1840's and there is no building left from earlier than about 1880. Of course, much of the building is from wood, and there have been many fires, accounting for the loss of quite a bit of history.

RachelM said...

good point...very interesting! do you see any difference in personal attitudes, as well? just off the cuff, as an american, i'm thinking we're not really known for patience and delayed-gratification (i'm broadly generalizing, of course). i wonder if the rapidly changing "eras" might play into that mentality?

Joyce said...

Lovely pictures!

Bumpkin Bears said...

What a lovely post, I'm so glad to have found your blog. How I miss the beautiful buildings and gardens of England, I'm British but living in Belgium! I look forward to popping by again. Have a lovely weekend, Catherine

Pet said...

You are right, The Empire is still present somehow in so many things. I wrote recently a Post about Brideshead Revisited. Have you seen the BBC series on the book?

Inside a British Mum's Kitchen said...

Wonderfully put! Whenever I visit home (England) I feel centered again - must be all that history
Mary x

loveandlilac said...

We talk about the 60s as if it were yesterday (or is that just my age?). I've always said if I could go back in time it would be to the Victorian times to see what it was like to live in my house in the 1890s when it was built.

I always enjoy your perspective on the UK. It's so interesting as a Brit to understand how others see us.

Down by the sea said...

Hi Laura,
I love your photos and your view of England through American eyes. Thank you so much for finding me and introducing me to your blog. I will enjoy following you.

Felicity said...

There's always so much interesting information and eye-pooping photography in your posts Laura, I never know where to start when commenting - today I'll keep it brief.

#1 Love the juxtaposition of the two histories and why time seems to have a different flow - I did a quick compare with Australia's relatively young history and see similarities with both the UK and US

#2 I didn't know that the bomb shelters were known as pillboxes - I only knew of hats from the 50's having this name

#3 Thanks for the POM mention - can't wait!


~Gardener on Sherlock Street said...

I see what you mean. I'm amazed when ever we travel east and an area has pre civil war history how different it "feels." I can only imagine what living in a place with so much more documented history would be like.
I love the walkway with the rock and brick mixed.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

The English are very patient when standing in lines (queues), while Americans sigh and shift posture while waiting. Both countries have road rage, but in the UK you never have to worry about the other driver having a gun. True!

Happy Homemaker UK said...

I must admit I never watch TV, but it sounds interesting :)

Privet and Holly said...

Yes, and I feel a shift is
a coming here in the US
again, too....The Queen
does represent a certain
stability, for good or bad,
depending on who you talk
to. Wonder is Cameron will
be re-elected? Interesting
stuff to ponder : ). Love the
photos and sweet bunting in
the tree!

xx Suzanne

Happy Homemaker UK said...

The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, is up for reelection on May 3rd. Interesting times :)

Dave D said...

Pillboxes (named because of their resemblance to old fashioned pill boxes, funnily enough) were built to house machine guns in case of a German invasion (used to play in some of them as a kid), they weren't "bomb shelters", those were called Anderson shelters if they were of the half round corrugated iron design.

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Why were they called Anderson shelters? I feel there has to be a story there...

Dave D said...

Named after Sir John Anderson the Lord Privy Seal, who was responsible for air raid shelter development in WWII.

Dave D said...


Filipa said...

Loved the pics!!!
And amazing the timeline with the differences..
Following you back! ;)

you should be out on a meadow said...

What a well thought out post Laura!
I really enjoyed reading and thinking about this.
Many thanks. xoj

Iota said...

Very interesting. I think Brits are much more aware of the history of their surroundings than Americans (big generalisation, but I have found it to be the case).

Happy Homemaker UK said...

Wow, impressive!

Pom Pom said...

Interesting! I think Americans are always thinking ahead and looking forward. We're babies in the grand scheme. There are so many charming attributes belonging to the British. Thank you for a fascinating post.

NTCtag by Ning Tagle Clark said...

Wow! That is a list of histories that I would like to learn. Thanks for sharing!

likeschocolate said...

I know what you mean. Now that I am here in Germany, I feel a little like I am in this weird world of 80's fashion with Medieval buildings.

ZielonaMila said...

Fantastic photographs, interesting description. I am greeting

Dave D said...

Yes, the Germans do have an "interesting" fashion sense, are they still wearing checkered trousers?

Amanda van Mulligen said...

Great post. So interesting to have it all summarised like this - and with the different perspective. You're so right.

Pat said...

Fascinating historical comparison of countries with fantastic photos!

A Fanciful Life said...

Hi Laura,
Thanks for stopping by my blog - I am enjoying your photos of Europe. I love the Victorian building and the Stockholm scene (my mother is from Sweden). How wonderful to live with the centuries of history. I'm in California where everything is new, comparatively speaking. So glad we connected!

Sharon :-)