Pleasure and Pain
Not all ways of entertainment in eighteenth-century Britain were good for you. Gambling and fighting could lead to ruination. Human curiosities capitalised on the weak and catered to the darkest sides of human nature. Blood sports by their very nature profited out of animal cruelty and torture. Discover more about the seedier side of Georgian entertainment in these articles.
Bedlam: tourist attraction? For the price of a penny the curious onlooker could peer into the cells and view inmates in their pitiful misery.
Boxing matches, as one critic wrote in the York Chronicle described, were ‘the carnival of England’ where ‘the distinctions of rank are laid aside; the decencies of society forgotten’.
Whilst the pursuit of sexual pleasure for men in the Georgian period is well recorded and was often celebrated, the predilections of women at this time are more opaque.
The highs and lows of gambling were enjoyed across Georgian society. Fortunes could be made and lost with games of chance, cards and betting all played for extremely high stakes.
The visceral pleasures of the fight and the opportunities to bet, drew blood-thirsty crowds from across all ranks of eighteenth-century society to ‘enjoy’ the brutality of blood sports and animal baiting.