Roughs and Respectables: the pleasures and problems of leisure

The talk by Dr. Mike Winstanley began by examining the meaning of ‘leisure’ to reveal a highly complex and dynamic concept which was and is influenced by many factors such as age, social background, regional differences and gender. Old newspaper sources were used to illustrate the talk with many references to events in what is known as South Lakeland today. The two variables examined throughout the talk were how the ‘roughs’ or lower classes entertained themselves and how the elite or respectables either entertained themselves or were entertained. Leisure for the ‘roughs’ in particular seemed to attract the need to be codified, and regulated as it was deemed to be problematic. This was clearly shown with reference to the part animals and birds played in Victorian leisure. The creation of the NSPCA in 1824 and the Cruelty to Animals Acts of 1835 and 1849 soon meant cock fighting and the gambling that was associated with it became a source of concern for the authorities and it had to be carried on clandestinely. However the hunting of game and the shooting party became a major social event for the ‘respectables’ and much of the landscape in Scotland was changed as a consequence.

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