A poor Victorian family would have lived in a very small house with only a couple of rooms on each floor. The very poorest families had to make do with even less - some houses were home to two, three or even four families. The houses would share toilets and water, which they could get from a pump or a well. Open sewers ran along the streets in poor areas making them very smelly and unhealthy.

Poor Victorian wasn’t very exciting, unless working 18 hours a day in order to house your entire family in one room of a cheap lodging house that you rented by the week is the sort of thing that gets you going.

The average weekly food budget for a poor Victorian family might have been around 12 shillings, and a loaf of bread cost about 3 pennies. So bread was the staple food for breakfast lunch and dinner, supplemented with tea, sugar, and maybe butter or cheese, frequently bought “on tick”, by opening a tab at the local shop. Getting into debt this way was common.

Food wise, you could actually do slightly better in the workhouse.

If you had no money for lodgings, which wasn’t uncommon, you and your children could have a bed in the workhouse for free in exchange for half a day’s labour starting early the following morning. Before that, you would be given a breakfast of bread and gruel, a sort of porridge made by boiling oats with water until it formed a paste, served tepid. It wasn’t great, but it provided some much needed sustenance ahead of a morning’s manual labour.