Object of the week- Temperance banner
These days it’s among the most popular tipples in bars and restaurants around Leeds.
But the consumption of gin was once viewed as a dangerous scourge on society that needed to be curtailed.
Temperance banners like this one from the Leeds Museums and Galleries collection, which warns of the “snare” of gin, illustrate the depth of feeling from campaigners determined to protect the British way of life from the impact the drink might have.
This particular banner dates from around 1880, when luxurious Victorian gin palaces were all the range.
In the Georgian period, the issue had been even more prominent and, in 1743, records show that England was drinking 10 litres of gin per person per year.
Campaigners began to push for more legislation to control gin consumption, led by the Bishop of Sodor and Man, Thomas Wilson. In 1736, the Bishop had complained that gin produced a "drunken ungovernable set of people".
Concerns about gin eventually found their way to Parliament, and in the first half of the 18th Century, politicians passed five major Acts designed to control it.
Visitors to Leeds City Museum next month will have the chance to find out more about life in Georgian in Georgian Britain, including the rise of London gin shops.
Led by historian and broadcaster Dr Annie Gray, of BBC Radio 4’s The Kitchen Cabinet, a talk entitled Jellies and Gin Shops: How to Live Like a Georgian takes place on Saturday May 12 from 11.15am until 1.45pm.
Tickets are priced at £15 including refreshments. Booking is required and can be done by calling 0113 378 4485, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or searching on Eventbrite.
The talk will coincide with the museum’s current, hugely popular exhibition featuring a spectacular collection of renowned Leeds-born craftsman Thomas Chippendale’s furniture drawn from private collections and stately homes across the country.
Ruth Martin, Leeds City Museum’s curator of exhibitions, said: “The Georgian period was a time of huge social change for Britain as a whole, when class divisions became more and more pronounced and a very distinctive style of design emerged.”