Sleeping Rough in Victorian England (Penny ‘Sit-Ups’, Two-Penny ‘Hangovers’, Four Penny ‘Coffins’)

Horrifying to us today, but Penny ‘Sit-Ups’ and Twopenny ‘Hangovers’ did exist in Victorian England, and offered a solution ‘of sorts’ to the spiralling problem of homelessness, destitution and slums in the metropolis. Poverty in Victorian Britain was rife everywhere, not just on the streets of 19th Century London and if you’ve watched my video about the ‘Crawlers’ – who really led the most pitiful existence – you will be well aware of just how bad life could be for those who fell through the cracks of society and onto the streets. If you were a Victorian and found yourself living a ‘street life’ – grafting for daily bread and board or begging for money – then you could (if you still had some coins left after eating) avoid the rain, bitter cold or dangers of the night by paying to stay in a shelter of three varieties – a penny ‘sit-up’, a two-penny ‘hangover’ or a four penny ‘coffin’. Find out just how bad a night was in one of these shelters from witness accounts of people who actually stayed a night.

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Enjoy the Victorians? Watch more videos:

Street Life in 19th Century Victorian London:

‘Crawlers’ – Victorian London’s Poor:

Hard Life of a Victorian Chimney Sweep:

Victorian Street Doctors:

Victorian Flower Sellers:

Victorian Ratcliffe Highway Slum:

Victorian Omnibus Drivers:

The ‘Real’ Oliver Twist of Victorian London:

Credits: CC BY – People queuing at S. Marylebone workhouse circa 1900 by Wellcome Collection, Policeman, approaches a ragged woman and her baby in a London park. Coloured etching by M. Morgan, 1867 by Wellcome Collection; CC BY-SA – Mendiant en prière. Dessin 28,8xX30 by Paul Blanc

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1 Response to Sleeping Rough in Victorian England (Penny ‘Sit-Ups’, Two-Penny ‘Hangovers’, Four Penny ‘Coffins’)

  1. My grandmother told me about those hangovers; they existed in Germany too.


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