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The Great Exhibition of 1851

By Pauline Weston Thomas for


The Great Exhibition of 1851


Crystal Palace Home of the Great ExhibitionThe Great Exhibition Transept.

The Great Exhibition of 1851 was the first International Exhibition ever held. Promoted by Prince Albert it was intended to help understanding and brotherhood between nations and so aid peace. Set in Hyde Park it was a huge three-tiered glass building and enclosed full-grown elm trees.

Exhibition Statistics

The Exhibition lasted 141 days and in that time six million people visited the Crystal Palace. The centrally placed exhibition situated in a far more accessible venue than the British Millennium Dome of 2000, attracted everyone from schoolboy to Queen to the well behaved. 

Right - The Transept - The Great Exhibition.

Entrance Costs to the Great ExhibitionPicture of the interior of the Crystal palace showing the tree. Costume History, fashion history.

The Prince was thrilled that people of all types, all classes and all ages came from Britain and abroad. Whole parish parties visited and a Cornish woman walked the two hundred and fifty miles to see the Exhibition's wonders.

Admission prices varied according to the date. There was a day and a ticket price to suit everyone. It varied from 3 guineas a day, 1 a day, five shillings a day, down to one shilling a day. The one shilling ticket was a huge success with the industrial classes, and four and a half million shillings were taken.

Left - The Enclosed Tree - The Crystal Palace.

A Foreign Experience

Visitors were genuinely interested in the exhibits as many gave an opportunity to see exhibits that were only ever likely to be seen on an expensive foreign tour. Everything was for the entertainment of curious eyes and minds. A touch of the exotic was introduced and for the first time many people tasted set jelly and ice cream.

Inspiration for the Victoria and Albert Museum

The Great Exhibition closed after six months and was declared a huge success by everyone. Its success led to the site development of the South Kensington Museums.

You have been reading an original Great Exhibition article by Pauline Weston Thomas at ©



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About looks at women's costume and fashion history and analyses the mood of an era.  Changes in technology, leisure, work, cultural and moral values. Homelife and politics also contribute to lifestyle trends, which in turn influence the clothes we wear.  These are the changes that make any era of society special in relation to the study of the costume of a period.Fashion History can take no responsibility for any information on the site which may cause you error, loss or costs incurred from use of the information and links either directly or indirectly.  This site is owned, designed, written and developed by author: Pauline Thomas and Guy Thomas. This site is designed to be viewed in 1024 X 768 or higher.

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