The Victorian era was named for Queen Victoria who reigned in Great Britain from 1837 to 1901. During Victorian Days at the Old Courthouse, discover what life was like in the 1800s.  During the online event, discover some popular entertainments of the era.

Attending the circus was a favorite leisure time activity during the Victorian period. From small performances featuring a few horses and clowns to extravagant productions with trapeze performers, riders, acrobats and a herd of elephants, the circus was an event that attracted the whole community. Craft activities will highlight features of the Victorian circus.  Among the activities, kids can print and assemble a paper model circus tent to color, decorate a paper clown mask to wear and create a small circus unicycle rider toy to wheel around.  Templates will be provided

Learn about Victorian tea party as reenactors provide an online Etiquette of Tea lesson, complete with some stories about Victorian millionaires of the Peninsula. Recipes will be provided so you can make tea time treats at home.

After the tea, watch an online fashion show featuring Victorian outfits from the Millie Collection. Starting in the early 1980s, museum volunteer Millie Hagstrom started collecting vintage clothing for use in fashion shows and reenactments. Clothing in the collection ranges from the 1840s to the present.

Image of a circus frame craft

Design a Circus-Themed Frame

Supplies:

  • frame template
  • coloring materials (crayons, markers, color pencils, etc.)
  • scissors
  • glue stick

Instructions

Image of circus train craft

Assemble a Circus Train

Supplies

  • train template (printing on cardstock works best, but regular paper will work)
  • circus animals template
  • coloring materials (crayons, markers, color pencils, etc.)
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • tape

Instructions

Create a Clown Mask

Supplies

  • template
  • coloring materials (crayons, markers, color pencils, etc)
  • scissors
  • string
  • glue stick (or other kind of adhesive)

Instructions

Image of ringleader hat craft

Create a Ringleader Hat

Supplies:

  • paper plate
  • black construction paper (regular white paper will work as well – just color the paper black)
  • scissors
  • tape
  • black crayon (or a black marker or black paint)
  • decorative items such as feathers, sequins, pom pom’s, etc.

Instructions

red and white paper circus tent

Construct a Circus Tent

Supplies

  • circus tent template (printing on cardstock works best, but regular paper will work)
  • animal images template
  • coloring materials (crayons, markers, color pencils, etc.)
  • scissors
  • glue stick
  • tape

Instructions

Cypress Lawn Heritage Foundation logo

A Victorian Tea

Anna Maria Russell, Duchess of Bedford is credited with creating afternoon tea sometime around 1840, to alleviate afternoon hunger as the upper classes commonly had their dinner late. Afternoon tea became a popular social occasion during the Victorian period, both in Great Britain and the United States.

Following proper tea etiquette was very important, as you would not want to make a bad impression in front of your host and other guests. There is a long list of etiquette covering how to pour the tea, how to hold your teacup and how to eat the food. Watch the Etiquette of Tea for more helpful advice.

A tea set

A Victorian Fashion Show

Watch a fashion show featuring Victorian outfits from the Millie Collection, an education collection of vintage clothing at the History Museum. Included are some dresses that are new to the collection.

Victorian Days Walking Tours

Get a taste of local history through free walking tours. They give an introduction to some of the historic places and themes throughout San Mateo County. This summer, some of the tours are offered in-person and some are offered online. Current COVID protocols will be in effect and reservations are required for the in-person tours. Click here for more information on the tours in July and August.