‘All that is sacred is profaned’
Balloons, fairs, ballads and the Great Exhibition
in Novelty fair
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The final three chapters of this book consider 1851. Firstly I consider the relationship between the Great Exhibition and fairs as highlighted in the texts of broadside ballads, and draw attention to the entertainments on offer beyond Hyde Park at Batty’s Hippodrome and the Great National Fair at Nottinghill. These sources show how, from its very conception, the Great Exhibition contained fair-like elements, and that the fair was therefore a central point of reference in defining that event. Revealing how the fair, and, by extension, the market place was of central concern highlights how cash and commerce haunted the Great Exhibition, which was supposedly an expression of bonds of unity and common interest between bourgeois and worker, Britain and foreign powers. This chapter also considers the way in which working people were actively excluded from both the exhibition and Hyde Park in 1851, resulting in class tensions that official rhetoric around the event successfully submerged, but which is clear in many broadside ballads that take the exhibition as their subject matter.

Novelty fair

British visual culture between Chartism and the Great Exhibition

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