Vaucluse House dressed in mourning


The drawing room is dressed in mourning for History Week 2018 – Life & Death.

For the next 10 days, visitors to Vaucluse House will be able to experience a Victorian household in mourning as we take part in this year’s History Week.

The theme – ‘Life & Death’ – provides a great opportunity for us to dress the drawing room in mourning, enabling visitors to experience some of the multitude of rituals which formed part of the nineteenth century process of mourning a lost loved one. With the shutters closed, the mirror draped in black, and lilies scenting the air, the drawing room take on a particularly melancholy and moody appearance. 

For the Victorians, the ever-present nature of death meant that dying itself was not particularly feared, but there was a genuine fear of not being mourned properly. Observing the elaborate rituals associated with mourning became a social expectation, and many believed there could be nothing worse than a pauper’s death, void of spectacle and ceremony.

We’ll be running a daily tour at 2pm during this time, which delves further into mourning practices, including details about William Charles Wentworth’s extravagant 1873 funeral.

On Saturday and Sunday over two weekends, there’ll be the opportunity to drop in and make your own funeral biscuits – these biscuits were often made around the time of the funeral and sent to family members who couldn’t attend the service.

History Week runs from Saturday 1 September to Sunday 9 September, so drop in and see Vaucluse House in a whole new (dimmer) light!

Find out more about visiting Vaucluse House, including opening hours.

  • Man holding lit candelabra in candlelit room draped in black.
  • Room draped in black cloths with candles.
  • Room draped in black cloths with candles.
  • Room draped in black cloths with candles.

About the author

Woman standing in front of colourful mural.

Mel Flyte

Assistant Curator

Mel relishes the opportunity to get hands-on with the treasures in our collection.

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