The People's Palace of Late Victorian Scotland: The Making and Meaning of the Scottish Pub



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For many centuries, Scots heralded the pub as the center of commercial, political, and social life. The emergence of the modern city in the mid-nineteenth century had significant impacts on how culture was defined and accessed, and as the communities which patronized and regulated the pub changed, so too did the institution and the role it assumed as a space for shaping Scottish culture. This thesis explores three identifiers of Victorian Scotland that determined what form the pub assumed: the social geography of an urban city, the burgeoning middle-class and its subsequent ideas of respectability and moral space, and the material culture and spatial practices of the pub itself. What resulted was a period of mass pub remodels during the years 1880-1910 in which pub decoration and ornamentation became increasingly elaborate. The new pub, called the “People’s Palace” by Rudolph Kenna and Anthony Mooney (People's Palaces: Victorian and Edwardian Pubs of Scotland. Edinburgh: P. Harris, 1983), featured elaborate woodwork, etched and stained glass, colored tiles, and literary and historical decorative themes. The publican crafted a cultural environment for the working class, and situated the pub as a critical actor in informing the cultural identity of late nineteenth-century Scotland.



Scotland, Nineteenth Century, Pub, Material Culture