The 1900 House: An Extraordinary Living Experiment

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Viewers time-travel vicariously in this four-part "docu-soap" that transplants a modern family from 1999 to 1900. The series clearly evinces the radical changes in domestic life wrought by the scientific and technological innovations of the last 100 years. The Bowler family are taken back in time to the spring of 1900 in Greenwich, a suburb of London, England. For 3 months, they live as a family in 1900 would have lived.

Who hasn't longed for the simplicity of times past, when life was less convoluted, without the complications of cell phones, e-mail, and chauffeuring kids to soccer games? Well, one episode into PBS's reality series The 1900 House will have you rethinking your romanticization of days gone by.

Take one modern 1999 family, insert them into a Victorian London house redesigned to exact 1900 standards, focus a camera on them for three months, and you have The 1900 House. The Bowler family is a typical family of six (actually, seven--the oldest daughter remained in 1999 to take care of the house): 9-year-old Joe is a computer games addict, teenage Kathryn is a club hopper, and preteen twins Hilary and Ruth are still young enough to be the most mature people in the family. Add mother Joyce, a school inspector on hiatus, and father Paul, a Royal Marine who takes his head-of-the-household role a bit too seriously, and you have an immensely likable family living under incredibly strained circumstances.

The first of four episodes focuses on the rebuilding of the house: the removal of the indoor plumbing and electricity, the installation of the coal-burning stove, the planting of the Victorian-era garden, and such. The subsequent three episodes follow the refreshingly fascinating daily life of the Bowler family as they navigate cooking, cleaning, entertaining themselves, and even personal hygiene (Paul learns to cope with a straight-edged razor, and Joyce and Kathryn get a lesson on womanly issues of 1900). Tight editing condenses the three months into four hours, keeping the series fast paced and humorous. Whether you're a reality-TV junkie or have an honest interest in a documentary on Victorian life, The 1900 House will certainly delight. --Jenny Brown

Customer Reviews:

  • 1900 House
    Shown on PBS and produced by the BBC. With much fanfare and publicity, a London radio station put out the call for an English family to volunteer for 3 months of turn of the century living in an authentic Victorian house. The 'winning' family didn't have an easy time of it. But one must wonder, why not, have we become so spoiled as to have trouble living as about half the world still does today? No electricity, wood stove heat, limited hot water, outdoor privy. Last summer I drove from Tuscon to Mazatlan, Mexico and for 1000 miles, every villa, every hacienda, everybody lived that way. No phone, electricity, TV, running water, cars, etc. Same way they live in Africa, India, China, Siberia and more countries than not. Still, an interesting film from a Sociological standpoint. Better is 'Frontier House' where they're sent to Montana to spend a summer as pioneer settlers. Difficult to find but a splendid study....more info
  • I would have signed up in a heartbeat!
    The biggest issue I had is the same that other reviews have stated. I think the Bowlers were the wrong choice for this project. As a reenactor, I enjoy using past techniques as learning tools on how things have changed in daily living. I heard from someone who had auditioned for Colonial House that the producers of the shows prefer people who would be "fish out of water" instead of people more inclined to adapt to the new environment. The belief is that it would make for interesting television with the learning curve involved. Of course, I still got tired of the whining from the oldest women here, if you didn't want to wear a corset then a viable option at the time was the new uncorseted new natural line but it didn't catch on. There are "working" corsets also without at much boning but with proper support and "modesty" as needed.
    I would have loved to see Mrs. Bowler try to make her own soap as my Grannie used to do with a big iron pot out in the back yard. I would love the chance to try this for a few months, especially with the safeguards of local health care/fire department within reach. No television or computer but I could manage with a telephone (they were around)....more info
  • Take a step back in time...
    The turn of the century, life moving at a simpler pace without the fears and stresses of our modern world, elegantly dressed ladies, dapper gentlemen, horse drawn carriages and luxerious steamships. Who hasn't wished they could find a way back to those times to escape the pressures of our own? Well, an English family called the Bowlers did just that as part of an experiment conducted by a television station to see just how far domestic life has changed in the past 100 years. A period house was retored to 1900 condition and the Bowlers lived there for three months as Victorians. Their experience proves an eye opener for them and us as we discover the "Good Old Days" were anything but. Mrs. Bowler discovers that doing laundry is an all day job, suffers a meltdown three days into the experiment when the coal fired stove malfuntions for the umpteenth time, she and 16 old daughter Kathryn get first hand experience with female sanitation of the Victorian era, and Kathryn discovers that being a teenaged girl in the year 1900 was quite a dull existance. Father Paul revels in the Victorian role of father as Lord and Master of the house. Elizabeth the girl Mrs Bowler hires breifly as a "Maid of all work" gives us insight of what life for a domestic servant of the era was really like. (Upstairs Downstairs this aint!) To really get an idea of what it was really like to live back in the early years of the 20th century, watch this video and hear it firsthand from people like you and me who actually did it, the Bowlers....more info
  • If you like history, you'll enjoy this show
    After watching 1900 House, I realized that life in Victorian times is very different than life in 2009, however this is mostly the case for women and not men.
    The show does a good job of indicating how the family lives their day-to-day lives and the kinds of technologies and gadgets they had in those days. But one draw back is that the show tends to degenerate into a 'call to action' for feminism which detracts from the entertainment value of the show.
    If you like history, you'll enjoy this show, but if you are annoyed at being preached at about the role of women in society, the last episode might annoy you....more info
  • Revealing look at both contemporary and Victorian mindsets
    I thought The 1900 House well done, overall; it revealed both the more elegant aspects of the era (home decor and clothing) and the more awkward aspects (everything painfully basic and time consuming).

    However, I was startled to see that an intelligent, well-educated family of the 21st century could not function well with mere books, board games, and conversation for entertainment.

    Perhaps this is because two absolutely central aspects of Victorian life were not included in their lives at all (and perhaps could not have been in this context): Church and social life, which often intersected, were vital to Victorians.

    Unless you were a very disfunctional Victorian family indeed, this important community connection not only lightened some of the more dreary aspects of life, it was also seen as a moral obligation. (This could be why the "reality" family found so little to converse about. Was life so boring because this was 1900 or because there was no social interaction at all for this family? That would be boring in any period.)

    Another point (which the program addressed briefly but perhaps not quite accurately) was domestic service: Many families in this economic catagory quite often seem to have had one live-in and one "daily" or to have sent their laundry out. Various memoirs and autobiographies from this period also indicate that some servants, at least, took pride in their profession and were treated with respect by their sometimes struggling employers (Agatha Christie's excellent autobiography would be a good example). Not all, but some.

    This program did show us the down side of "the good ol' days" and kept us from romanticizing the period; but it is perhaps also true that we, as modern individualistic people, are losing the ability to appreciate a more community-oriented and simplified life (but who could not immediately empathize with the joyful return to a modern washing machine?!).

    Thus, The 1900 House seems to have been quite as revealing about the pro's and con's of The 2000 House as it was about the very late Victorian era (when many modern conveniences were only ten or fifteen years away; had this been even The 1913 House, life perhaps would have been more bearable)....more info

  • Not so much history as it is "Anti-Nostalgia;" 3 1/2 stars
    If I am counting correctly, we have been treated to four houses now. "Frontier House" and "Manor House," while entertaining in their own right, do not contain many elements to which the modern-day viewer could relate. "1900 House" and "1940's House" by contrast, portray hapless modern-day families attempting to cope with situations & technologies that are quite familiar to us, even though the technology is much more primitive.

    The Victorian era, for some strange reason, is an era that romantics on both sides of the Atlantic seem to long for. We have all seen those dreadful "Victorian Christmas" and "Victorian Wedding" books. It is an era that just oozes nostalgia.

    "1900 House" should kill any feelings of nostalgia once and for all. Even though the technology looks familiar, it is clearly a struggle for this family to cope for any length of time. The family was equipped with what was close to cutting-edge technology, but found every-day life to be tough sledding. All this without showing the amazingly constricting moral constraints of the Victorian & Edwardian eras, which probably would have put the Bowler over the edge once and for all.

    As other reviewers have correctly observed, there is a conspicuous lack of context in this show, as the very crucial aspects of social life & religious life are simply absent. The Bowlers might as well have been living on a desert island, because there is precious little indication of life outside the house itself.

    What we are left with is not so much a lesson in history as an anti-nostalgic smack upside the head, as we are reminded regularly that we, as modern-day people, could not cope with life in 1900, no matter how familiar that life may appear.

    Just as nostalgia distorts history by emphasizing only the good stuff, this show similarly distorts history by presenting 1900's life as a non-stop struggle, but without putting it in its proper context. This is not to say that the program was not extremely entertaining, but it was not as instructive as it might have been....more info

  • Vicariously Living 100 Years Ago
    When a London television station ran a contest to choose a family to live as Victorians for 3 months, over 400 families responded. After viewing 50 videotaped final applicants, a psychologist chose a very special family, the Bowlers, as the most stable. Even the Museum director who furnished the old townhome said he never could do what they were going to do. They had to cope with so much work that we "feel their pain" as this special family cooks, cleans and entertains themselves (3 teenagers, too) The mother has a "melt-down" as she experiences a failure at rhubarb compote. The females struggle with laundry that we cannot begin to comprehend. My favorite parts are the Mom's surprise birthday present (vintage chickens), the spring cleaning episode and Mrs. Bowler's honest and confidential appraisal to the camera on the sixth day that "this experience has gotten to my core". I adored watching every minute of this and was constantly surprised at their experiences and the fascinating bits of information on how those Victorians lived. What a special and unforgettable program. If you like Antiques, England, History and adventurous people you'll love this. (Did you know Victorians feared germs and although they felt iron beds were more sanitary they thought that germs lived in the joints of the beds and thus had to disinfect those areas?}...more info
  • History Lesson
    What a wonderful way to time travel. I thought that it was very interesting and informative. When you see Victorian times portrayed in the movies, it is quite misleading. It's portrayed as a quiet and gentler time, where women had a lot of time to learn to play the piano, visit friends or do needlepoint. Maybe this was true of the wealthy, but for most women, the Victorian era was much more difficult. There was much illness and disease and death especially amongst the children and many Victorian women were obsessed with death because it permeated their daily lives. Housekeeping was time consuming and would start from sunrise to sunset. I truly enjoyed how the family really slipped into their roles as a Victorian family. It was interesting to see the growing resentment in Joyce because she had to bear the brunt of living in the 1900 House. I felt that many women of the era probably felt the same way, which is why women began to enter the workforce at that time. Paul seemed to easily slip into his role as Master of the House as he orders the maid around the house. This was a great history lesson to remind us that women and household appliances have come a long way since 1900. This show made me appreciate many of the modern conveniences that I usually take for granted. I will never look at the year 1900 the same again!...more info
  • More, More, More! Fascinating and fun viewing.
    You don't have to be completely obsessed with Victorian history and social life to love this documentary. Watching a modern day family cope with the hardships and joys of a completely alien existence is fascinating to anyone, history buff or not. The refreshing honesty of the Bowler family, and the realness of the project draws you in and you become attached to each "character" even more than you would in a book or movie. Unlike other reality shows, the presence of the family makes the atmosphere loving and supportive, not nasty and backstabbing. Everyone?s in it together, and that?s really nice to watch. But if you are, like myself, interested in history and specifically Victorian history, this movie is a rare gem. You get to see what we have glossed over in our interpretation of the period. I can say that I did over glamorize the lack of technology, and have never even pondered the constraints on diet and hygiene. The documentary truly opens your eyes to living history in a way no book or movie could. It is a little disappointing that all but one family member rejoined modern life for work and school, as I?m sure that somewhat lessened the full force of the experiment. But the experiment is still very forceful and, more importantly, fun to watch. I would recommend this to anyone, and I would especially recommend it to history buffs of any era because it opens your eyes to the difference in living history and the history time remembers....more info
  • Entertaining and Informative
    This program entertains and instructs. The principal lesson is that the wealth that ordinary people today enjoy in capitalist societies is gargantuan by historical standards. This fact is true even when those standards are set by history as recent as a century ago. A related lesson - one that points to the very reason that "The 1900 House" is an entertaining program - is that this gargantuan wealth is so widespread that we today take it for granted.

    Wealth is to modern Americans and western Europeans what water is to fish: it's noticed only on those very rare occasions when it's absent - or when we see demonstrated vividly, as in "The 1900 House," what life was like without much of the wealth that is widely available today.

    The middle-class British family featured in this documentary had no idea just how difficult, tedious, dangerous, and dull life was for middle-class families only 100 years ago. We see the family struggle with these hardships. What we don't see - what we today cannot see - is how middle-class families truly of 100 years ago perceived their lives. We look back on daily life of a century ago and marvel that our ancestors possessed the fortitude to deal with such hardships. But I suspect that those same ancestors in 1900 looked at their daily world as one of marvels and conveniences unimaginable to their own parents and grandparents.

    The audiences most appropriate for this documentary are those people today who self-righteously, but ignorantly, decry material wealth. One open-minded viewing of "The 1900 House" will persuade anyone that, while not producing heaven on earth, the continuing expansion of material wealth makes everyone's life safer and longer, easier, and much richer in experiences.

    "The 1900 House" is a splendid program!...more info

  • Wonderful and Interesting
    This is a wonderful and interesting documentary about a family who are in England and take a challenge to spend time in a house acting like they are living in 1900. They go through many emotional times and its very interesting to see how things were back then. Make sure u see this fun and interesting 3 part (i think) dvd. i just wish i knew if there were any extras or updates on this fun family!...more info
  • A Wonderful Reality-Check of the Victorian Era
    For those of you who are interested in the reality-based programs out there, this documentary is more educational than the regular programs out there today. With the romanticism of the Victorian Era, we expect that life during the turn of the century was more simple and more calm. The family that decides to live life this way for a few months end up with some surprising discoveries.

    The Bowlers are given an assignment to live life exactly like people did 100 years ago for approximately three months. Mrs. Bowler openly admits during their experiment that in the beginning they were simply "having fun dressing up" but after awhile they realized that they had to do much more than wear costumes.

    The Bowlers discover that life is a bit more difficult to handle while living in their alter-egos. For instance, Mrs. Bowler has difficulty keeping her vegetarian lifestyle as she is subjected to the staple diet of 1900 (let alone a very bland diet back then that her fussy son refuses to eat.) Also, cleaning alone can take ten times the effort as well as the laundry being a three-day job. They have to get used to using bedpans and an outhouse as well as the daily stringing of the corset (to which two of them suffer shortness of breath) and if they get sick, they have to use only medications provided back then -- nothing modern. Everything and anything they encounter has to be from 1900 and when it comes down to simple haircare, Mrs. Bowler gets literally fed up with the shampoo of that time and in a moment of weakness, grabs a bottle of modern conditioner at the store (which she gets in trouble for later.)

    The whole family is able to record their personal opinions in what I refer to as the "venting cabinet." It's basically a camera in a closet that they open up and talk to about their opinions, wishes and desires. We see Mrs. Bowler use it quite a bit as she is genuinely frustrated with her older lifestyle. Her husband, who has an easier time (being that he is the male bread-winner of the family and isn't expected to help clean) still helps out with housework and seems as if he's genuinely having a good time figuring out the stove and making the stove keep burning to keep the family warm for the night. Still, little things are taken for granted, such as swimming during menstral periods are very taboo and lack of fresh eggs in the morning are soon remedied by obtaining a small coop of chickens in the backyard.

    A very interesting portrayal of how it was back in the Victorian age and a must-see for those of you who are interested in that time period as well as anyone who loves those reality shows. Quite an eye-opener...more info

  • Vicariously Living 100 Years Ago
    When a London television station ran a contest to choose a family to live as Victorians for 3 months, over 400 families responded. After viewing 50 videotaped final applicants, a psychologist chose a very special family, the Bowlers, as the most stable. Even the Museum director who furnished the old townhome said he never could do what they were going to do. They had to cope with so much work that we "feel their pain" as this special family cooks, cleans and entertains themselves (3 teenagers, too) The mother has a "melt-down" as she experiences a failure at rhubarb compote. The females struggle with laundry that we cannot begin to comprehend. My favorite parts are the Mom's surprise birthday present (vintage chickens), the spring cleaning episode and Mrs. Bowler's honest and confidential appraisal to the camera on the sixth day that "this experience has gotten to my core". I adored watching every minute of this and was constantly surprised at their experiences and the fascinating bits of information on how those Victorians lived. What a special and unforgettable program. If you like Antiques, England, History and adventurous people you'll love this. (Did you know Victorians feared germs and although they felt iron beds were more sanitary they thought that germs lived in the joints of the beds and thus had to disinfect those areas?}...more info
  • A wonderful look back at a time I'd rather not revisit :)
    Take a modern London house. Remove all the modern appliances. Rip out the electricity. Take out the indoor bathroom. Any products that weren't around in 1900 has to go. Install gas lights, a range, old fashioned laundry facilities and furnishings from 1900. Now, have a family move in live there for three months. For those three months, they can only use appliances that were available in 1900, eat foods that were available in 1900 and engage in activities that were popular in 1900. That's the premise of the 1900 House.

    Just from watching this video set, you will be amazed at the conveniences that we take for granted. You won't beleive the amount of work that went into maintaining a house in 1900, from the laundry (a never ending task -- you can't just throw it in the machine), to the cooking (on a range that didn't always work right and with a limited selection of foods), to the cleaning (it's difficult keeping the place clean without an electric vacuum cleaner -- especially with all the rugs).

    On this tape you watch the Bowler family of London live in the 1900 house for three months. Mr. Bowler (a marine), must learn to shave with a cutthroat razor. Mrs. Bowler has to learn how to run the household. The twin girls must learn to work around the house. And the youngest boy has problems of his own when the family finds he doesn't like any of the foods available in 1900.

    Little things that we take for granted are sorely missed in the 1900 House.

    Sheets cannot be just thrown into the washing machine. There is none. They have to be boiled and pressed using an old fashioned hand presser.

    Of course, there being no refrigerator in the house, the shopping must be done daily. You can't keep perishables in the house very long.

    Needless to say, cooking was a major headache. No microwaves, not even a normal oven. Controlling the temperature on the range they had was an incredible task.

    While they did have a flush toilet out in the back, there was none in the house. That meant keeping a chamber pot by the bed (Ugh!)

    Boredom was even a factor. Many of the things you and I like to do for entertainment weren't available. You couldn't read a book printed after 1900, since they weren't available yet (that would really reduce Amazon's inventory!). No television, no radio, very few periodicals. The only form of contact with anyone outside was by the daily mail delivery.

    This series was a real eye-opener to me. It gave me a greater awareness of how far we have come technologically in the last hundred years, and gave me a better understanding of the life that my grandparents and great-grandparents lived.

    I can only hope that if PBS does a series a hundred years from now called "The 2000 House," we don't seem as technologically backward to the viewers then as the 1900 House seems to us....more info

  • What about Elizabeth?
    They (apparently) not only paid her lousy but they hung her out to dry! (Absolutely no pun...). Elizabeth must perform back-breaking domestic functions wearing a corset, putting herself at risk at all times: while serving a formal dinner to the Bowlers and company, she burns herself on the 1900 stove - oh, where is that 1900 ointment?!
    Elizabeth the Maid Of All Work is the only sympathetic adult participant in this whole muddle-headed affair. [There is one scene which is so *unintentionally* hilarious that "Monty Python" or "Saturday Night Live" could never even touch it - the stately Elizabeth realizes that this gig is not what it's cracked up to be and travels to the local library to research the Women's Movement - in an outfit from 1900!!].
    Joyce and Paul are the time-travelers willing to wait six days to call the plumber and apparently willing to put their children's physical and mental health at risk - but that's O.K., they can call a present-day Doctor if necessary!
    A period publication is found which details the dangers of wearing restrictive clothing, and the ladies still feel that they must wear that thing - well, the visitor from the Health Department said that three months probably will not *permanently* affect their anatomies. [She tests Mrs. Bowler's lung power and says that she is "sure" that the shortness of breath is probably due to the corset only. Are we to assume that the Health Rep. has provided a thorough exam to support that statement?] Yes, the Bowler ladies will only bend or break the rules when it comes to shampoo! - they lose control during an allowable shopping spree and buy 1999 shampoo.
    Mrs. Bowler is the heart of the story, in fact, an alternate title for "The 1900 House" could have been "The 1900 Woman", despite the fact that the 1900 man was considered the "King of his Castle". Ofcourse in 2000, commercial demographics dictate otherwise, so Mr. Bowler makes an occasional sheepish contribution. (Except during the above-mentioned party when he enters the kitchen and rather harshly scolds the Maid for sweeping the floor instead of attending to the tea. He actually appears to shove her aside in disgust. The viewer is left to assume that this was pre-planned "role playing").
    Actually, this is a remarkably fascinating tape, in a positive sense because of the highly engrossing first hour which details the actual retro-fitting of the place, and in a negative because of the obvious wrongheadedness of the idea (in fact, it appears that the original planners thought that these folks could basically move right in after the place was properly retroed. Yeah, maybe they *should* get some practice in a controlled environment so they don't have a near-fatal accident handling boiling water or stoves which stay on 24 hours a day, etc. There is a vague section on their practice sessions).
    The final insult is when the "Historian-Creator" of this "Experiment" shows up on the last evening, for the "Summer Party". He doesn't bring along a gold-plated trophy or scholarships for the children, he carries ingredients for 1900 "Punch" - strawberries and stuff. Before we get the sad chance to watch one daughter gorge herself on the goodies, only to vomit it up the following morning - I'm surprised the cameras didn't follow her in to the toilet for this - they are visited by a turn-of-the-century photographer with turn-of-the-century equipment, meaning he uses "highly explosive magnesium" which, we are told, removed eyes and limbs way back when. The viewer breathes a sigh of relief when the photo shoot is a success and no particpants are injured. (By the way, the son, strangely overlooked by the 1999 cameras, doesn't look too happy either in the aftermath of the strawberry concoction as he sits down at the final 1900 breakfast.)
    One daughter misses her present day comforts and interests so much she slips into what appears to be a mild depression. Mrs. Bowler's solution is to drag her to an authentic Music Hall not anticipating that the teenager might be exposed to risque material. The two dream up a G-rated presentation of "The 2000 Woman" which has no relevance to the venue and is rejected. An interesting remedy.
    I said the tape was fascinating because it shows that a family could not survive without teamwork at the time - with today's approach in which the family is comprised of determined egotistical independents, with the parents as "friends" of the children and not leaders, they wouldn't last three days, no less three months. At the conclusion, the Bowlers are asked to reflect on the experience. They all say that they have gained insight into the historic struggle of their countrymen/women but nobody really says that the experience made them appreciate the struggle of their own family members for three months! They have learned only "History". Or so they think. They all seem to agree, and the Historian/Creator concurs, that it hard to do things compared to today. No one here seems to realize that 1900 people used 1900 devices and probably thought they were progressive for their time. (It's all relative, isn't it?)
    One daughter says that sleeping in the same room with her sisters was actually a great burden. I guess we must assume that anything more sentimental was left on the cutting room floor. (Elizabeth probably would have had to pick up the splices). And one more thing - you'd think that on that ride back home they would have picked up the fired Elizabeth and brought her along to the Burger King for a "Whopper"....more info
  • "1900 House": Better than "Survivors"
    I enjoyed every minute of this program. It was delightful to see modern people trying to adapt to life 100 years ago. The program is quite complete, including the challenges of finding the right house, refitting and furnishing it appropriately, and the selection process for the family.

    For my money, this was far better than other "reality" shows like Survivor....more info

  • A truse story of Women's rights
    This started to be a story about how a modern family would cope in the 1900 to show how much life has changed. It ended up being a real leasson on Women's Lib during that time.
    In 1900 women were harshly restricted to the home not only cause of morality, but because there was so much work to do. Aplliances and new inventions like the washing mashine helped to liberate women all over the wold. They need to put THAT on a coin. ...more info
  • A Real Time Machine
    1900 House may be the closest thing to a time machine any of us will ever experience. This series follows the Bowler family as they agree to live their lives according to the reality of 1900 London. That means period clothes, gas lamps, etc. - all the seemingly romantic trappings of the period. It also means cold baths, dinners that take all day to prepare, clothes that are never quite clean, dreary and damp rooms that are always too cold. It's fascinating to watch how the family comes to grips with 1900s life. The mother's frustrations are especially palpable. I hope Britain's Channel 4 decides to do more series like this one - each one going back another 100 years....more info
    I see that some other reviewer had a difficult time with the complaining of the Bowler family, but to me that wasn't a problem (perhaps I'm so used to hearing people complain, it doesn't make much of an impression anymore). I'm currently watching "Manor House", and conclude that "complaining" is part of the appeal of this series. Deep down inside many people enjoy hearing complaints (perhaps a touch of schaudenfreude). It keeps an emotional attachment going to watch people become worn down from overwork and lack of physical comfort waiting to see how long they can endure.

    I enjoyed this show completely and would gladly see it again and again....more info
  • Reveals history . . . and some things about viewers
    I'm not sure how they could have made 1900 House better. When the participants break the rules they point out how things would have really been in 1900. It's ludicrous to suggest that the producers could have created more context for the show. To do so - to create lavish social conditions (more participants, social gatherings, etc.) - would have been well beyond the scope and budget of the project.

    Viewer response to this show versus Colonial House is also revealing. 1900 House participants broke the rules all the time - they bought shampoo, they treated the maid better than a Victorian family would have, etc. More importantly, the father and the children had lives outside the home in the modern era. Essentially, these people had it easy compared to Colonial House who were mandated to have zero contact with anything remotely modern.

    It seems that critics of Colonial House have a political agenda. Any and all criticisms about participants breaking the rules and this somehow ruining the show is mindless. Living as they did in the past, whether it be the US colonial era or 1900 Victorian London, would be misery for the vast majority of people living in the western world. People aren't robots. If you want a show where all the actors appear to follow the rules watch a fictional drama. But then, all you'll be watching are professional actors playing a part. You won't be seeing people live, suffer and even enjoy the lifestyles of the past - which is the whole point of making these programs in the first place.

    Last word: 1900 House, like Colonial House, is a great television for adults and children alike. It's our loss that more programs like this aren't produced....more info
    Do you remember the PBS series 1900 House, last summer and it was reshown early this year? It was about a 1999 Family, time traveling to 1900. It takes place in the Spring of 1999/1900 for the family who did this experiment (The Bowlers: Paul and Joyce and their 4 of the 5 children took part in it, the oldest was now living on her own and etc., (Constance), Kathryn, Hilary and Ruth (twins), and Joe). It takes place in the South East part of London, Greenwich section, the town was called Charlton. Anyway, they go back to the year 1900 and experience it first hand. They bring back so much more than you expect of it. I'm glad that I decided to buy the video finally because I think I can't get a enough of and you (didn't buy it yet). I really get something differnt everytime that watch it and after this still get something out of it. I also have book, I did a review that too, go to the book one and see it....more info
  • Wonderful
    In this marvelous PBS production, you follow a project of producing a true "living museum." Taking a London townhouse that existed in 1900, a host of experts are called in to return it to its original appearance, complete with gas lighting, coal burning stove, turn-of-the-century paintings, clothing, toys, soaps, etc. Then, a 1999 family (the Bowlers) is challenged to live in this house, wearing 1900 clothing using only 1900 technology, for three months. This show is presented on two VHS tapes, each containing two one-hour episodes.

    I really enjoyed this show. Learning about the house and what went into it in the first episode was interesting, but much more so was watching the family's reaction to the jobs they needed to perform around the house and the limited tools they had to perform the tasks. Emotions range from the joy of parties to the frustration of the mother, when the inability to perform some everyday tasks reduces her to tears. They hire a maid (who, in 1900, would have earned four pence a day for fifteen hours of work!), and then have to deal with the situation of having a domestic.

    This is a great show, being very educational and yet entertaining. There are many vignettes, where a great deal of information about life in 1900 is presented. This is a great show, and I recommend it 100%....more info

  • The 1900 House
    I found this video quite informative, yet I still enjoyed it. I witnessed many differences that took place in just one century, and I am pleased that such an interesting documentary was created...more info
  • Interesting look at times past
    This video makes an interesting look at times past, it's worth watching for the average viewer to see just how much things have changed in only 100 years. I found it interesting to watch the Bowler family adapt to the circa 1900 world, couldn't help thinking that they'd never have made it through a year of that life. I was actually more disappointed with the experts who set the house up for them, the guys who restored the house to period form do that for a living yet they had a terrible time getting the stove going and the others seemed to do their work largely by looking at picture books.
    Although you miss so much due to the need to edit 3 months of video down to about four hours it's still worth viewing. There's a companion book out that give some background information that will help flesh out the story, get it too....more info


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