The Nouveaux Riche of Victorian England
Relation of The New Banking/Industrial Class to High Society
As the middle class began to further divide, those who grew in wealth became known as a banking/industrial class. Along with their sudden economic prosperity there came a desire for social transformation- an aspiration for new aristocracy. They carried their traditional middle class values into prominence with their accumulation of wealth. They sought to achieve a merit oriented Society rather than social climbing, for their children's sake, into the existing one based solely on birth. This hindered the new class from ever attaining Aristocratic Social acceptance for their new wealth and deemed them the nouveaux riche. Despite obvious disapproval from the Aristocracy the nouveaux riche continued their economic ascent through "personal contact [which] was a crucial element in filling posts" (Loftus 5). This dependence upon others for mounting economic standing was contrary to the middle class value of independence. This industrial class was forced to rely upon the connections, potentially aristocratic, in order to succeed. Loftus explains that middle-class values were carved out in these attempts to define a society based on merit rather than aristocratic privilege. However, the importance of cultural capital and social networks to success in the period implies that the rise of the middle-classes in the Victorian period saw the replacement of one set of privileges with another (Loftus 4). However the Nouveaux Riche failed to fully assimilate into aristocratic society due to lack of pedigree.
Spending Habits of the Nouveaux Riche
Along with new money comes the ability to spend it. The Industrial class did exactly that, using their newly acquired
money to purchase large amounts of land and houses august enough for the property. This land ownership propelled some nouveaux
riche into riches surpassing those of the highest aristocracy. Their houses of course had to be decorated outdoing the splendor
of the structure itself. This class "took immense pride in their homes which they saw as a reflection of status" ("BBC Homes"). The styles were excessively ornamental and took their influence from Gothic styles, rococo, styles, the Orient, and developments from their own industrialization. With owning such ornately decorated residences they had to show them off; this was done so through dinner parties and balls. People of course could not be outmatched by the rich styles of their houses and therefore doled out large amounts of money for clothes and transportation.