‘The Wand of Fancy’:
The Historical Imagination of
the Victorian Tourist
Historical memory today is constructed and sustained by a vast panoply of resources: by compulsory State education; by public holidays and ceremonial; by monuments and buildings, carefully conserved and interpreted by an extensive apparatus of historic preservation; by museums; by a flood of printed text and image, and electronic data. These resources, in the past two centuries, have been progressively laid over the more restricted repertoire of sources supplying historical memory in the pre-modern past, sources restricted by immobility, illiteracy and technological limitations to a simpler diet of oral and visual cues.1 Victorian England stands at the threshold of this process: its population was the first to benefit from something like the modern array of historical memory-sources on a mass scale.2 This essay examines one aspect of this new mass experience: tourism. It considers the most popular historic sites – principally palaces, castles and large country houses – and asks: why did Victorian tourists visit these places? What did they hope to experience there? And how did their experiences of these historic buildings, these materializations of____________________
Questia, a part of Gale, Cengage Learning. www.questia.com
Publication information: Book title: Material Memories. Contributors: Marius Kwint - Editor, Christopher Breward - Editor, Jeremy Aynsley - Editor. Publisher: Berg. Place of publication: Oxford, England. Publication year: 1999. Page number: 125.
This material is protected by copyright and, with the exception of fair use, may not be further copied, distributed or transmitted in any form or by any means.