Young Explorers: Nursery


Nursery © Charles Dickens Museum

When Charles and Catherine moved to this house, their eldest son, Charley, was just a baby. They lived here for two and half years and had two more children. After they moved out of this house, their family became even bigger – they had ten children all together!

Their friend, Daniel Maclise, painted this picture below as a present for Catherine. She was about to go to America with Charles for several months and would miss the children terribly. She loved it so much she took it with her and hung it on the wall of every place they stayed in!

Have a close look at the picture. How many sons and how many daughters did Charles and Catherine have at this point?

Portrait of the Dickens children by Daniel Maclise, pencil and wash drawing, 1842.
DH743 © Charles Dickens Museum

There are actually two girls and two boys! This picture shows the four eldest children, Charley, Mary, Katey and baby Walter. To a modern viewer, it often looks as if the children are all girls, but this is not the case! Up until around the age of 7, boys and girls wore very similar clothes.

The children would have spent lots of their time in the nursery with a nurse-maid or nanny. While they didn’t have the variety of toys we have today, they did have lots of things to play with. Often these toys were hand-made at home. Have a look at this Victorian toy we have made and then click here to have a go at making one yourself with this activity.

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