5 Ways to Travel Back in Time Without Actually Travelling Back in Time
I’ve had a passion for history for as long as I can remember and, as a history lover, I’ve imagined what it would be like to live in my favourite time period, the nineteenth century, many times. While I am very interested in this period, I do believe that the 21st century is absolutely a better time to live in, even if the world today is far from flawless. If I were in fact to live in the 1800s, as a woman I wouldn’t be able to attend university nor be able to vote or really have a say in anything. The position of women at the time is reflected in John Ruskin’s Of Queen’s Gardens, where he states “her intellect is not for invention or creation, but for sweet ordering [and] arrangement.” I don’t think Ruskin and I would have got along very well. So, really, I wouldn’t want to live in the 1800s. Still, I adore the fashions, literature, etiquette and architecture of the period and would love to experience a day in, say, the 1830s. In this post I’ll share some things that make me feel more connected to the past and help me imagine I’m living in the Regency or Victorian era, even if it’s just for a little bit.
1. Wearing vintage (inspired) clothes
A great way to ‘travel back in time’ is by wearing vintage (looking) clothes. My favourite vintage-inspired clothes are blazers, blouses, long skirts and plaid skirts, or really just anything plaid. For shoes, I like Oxfords and loafers. You can find some great vintage-y pieces in Etsy shops Little Women Atelier. This shop sells the most beautiful, handmade dresses and frocks inspired by the characters in Little Women (by Louisa May Alcott). My LWA dress has 1830s-style sleeves that can only be described as ‘exquisite’ and is made from a lovely dark green linen. Wearing the dress makes me feel like the heroine in a Brontë novel, it transports you to the nineteenth century. Clothes really do have the power to make you feel like a different person or like someone from a different time.
2. Writing letters and wax sealing them
As a child, I used to write letters to my friends quite often, but nowadays I can just send them a text. As convenient as that is, though, I do miss writing letters a little bit. So, whenever I’m writing a letter to someone now, it makes me feel like I’m travelling back in time. Even better is writing a letter and sealing the envelope with a wax seal. Melting the wax over a candle, carefully pouring it over the paper and using a stamp to seal the letter… it’s quite a beautiful process and really does make you feel like you’re living in a different time for a moment.
3. Reading classics or historical fiction books
Reading makes you forget the world around you, as you almost become part of the story. When you’re reading classics or historical fiction, you’re transported to the past. Really, books are a cheap way of time travelling. When I read Brontë or Austen, I imagine myself living in the world they describe, it’s like I’m Elizabeth Bennet’s friend or a visitor at Thornfield Hall, desperate to tell Jane Eyre she’s making a mistake trusting Rochester. Books are quite magical and a great way to escape the present for a bit.
4. Visiting historic places
Another way to feel like you’re travelling back in time, is by visiting castles and historic houses. Exploring such places is one of my favourite things to do, you can feel the history of the place all around you. In January my best friend and I will be going to Haworth for a few days, where we’ll be staying in a lovely cottage. The last time I was in Haworth, in 2015, I was only there for a couple of hours, so I had time to visit the Brontë Parsonage Museum, but I didn’t get the chance to explore the village; visit the church, browse the shops or take a walk across the moors. I’m really looking forward to finally doing all those things in January! When you visit places like Haworth (and the Brontë Parsonage Museum), it’s as if you travel to a different time.
5. Watching period dramas
Like books, films have the power to transport you to a different world and watching period dramas is a great way to feel like you’re living in the past for a bit. When I saw Downton Abbey at the cinema this year, it was like I had travelled back in time to the 1920s. If you don’t have time to watch an entire film, you can also listen to a period drama soundtrack while you study, travel to university or work or do whatever else you have to do. This way you can escape the present for a moment, while still getting stuff done. If you’re looking for some lovely period dramas to watch, check out my top 5 period dramas.
I’d love to live in the 1800s for a day, but sadly no one has invented a working time machine yet, so feeling connected to the past is really the next best thing. Wearing vintage-y clothes, writing letters, reading books set in the 1800s, exploring historic places and watching period dramas are just some ways to create this connection. I hope this post has given you some new ideas about how to travel back in time without actually having to travel back in time. Happy holidays, everyone!