Victorian Aristo Tattoo Crew

I’m reading an amazing book at the moment which I shall be writing about in more detail in the forthcoming ISSUE 13 of PAMFLET! That’s right, we are making a return to print this spring and we can’t wait.

But in the meantime, here’s a rather intriguing nugget of information that I came across in Fortune’s Daughters; The Extravagant Lives of the Jerome Sisters: Jennie Churchill, Clara Frewen and Leonie Leslie by Elisabeth Kehoe.

Jennie Jerome, or Lady Randolph Churchill – whatababe

Jennie Churchill aka Lady Randolph Churchill aka Winston’s mum was part of the Prince of Wales’ decadent, glamorous social circle. I was surprised to discover that the Prince and his crew were all deeply into tattooing! Kehoe explains:

“[Jennie’s] was a snake, coiled around her left wrist. Tattooing had gained royal approval in 1862 when the Prince of Wales had visited the Holy Land and had the Jerusalem Cross tattooed on his arm. Later on, as King Edward VII, he acquired more and when his sons, the Duke of Clarence andthe Duke of York (who later became King George V), visited Japan in 1882, he told their tutor to take them to the famous master Hori Chiyo, who tattooed dragons on their arms. By 1890 tattooing had become extremely fashionable among both sexes in Edward’s aristocratic set.”

Hints of garconnes style in Lady R’s riding ensemble

Wikipedia has this to add:

“It was estimated in Harmsworth Magazine in 1898 that as many as one in five members of the gentry were tattooed. There, it was not uncommon for members of the social elite to gather in the drawing rooms and libraries of the great country estate homes after dinner and partially disrobe in order to show off their tattoos. Aside from her consort Prince Albert, there are persistent rumours that Queen Victoria had a small tattoo in an undisclosed ‘intimate’ location… Lady Randolph Churchill, had a tattoo of a snake around her wrist, which she covered when the need arose with a specially crafted diamond bracelet. Carrying on the family tradition, Winston Churchill had an anchor tattooed on his forearm.”

I’ve always been far too cowardly to get a tattoo, worrying that I’ll regret my choice of design and location in later life, but then again, I’m also a crashing snob and so now find myself pondering, if it’s good enough for royalty…

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Co-founder and co-editor of Pamflet. Bookworm, bluestocking, Brown Owl. Loves Garconnes style, reading, writing, ranting and raving. Gin snob.
About phoebe:

Co-founder and co-editor of Pamflet. Bookworm, bluestocking, Brown Owl. Loves Garconnes style, reading, writing, ranting and raving. Gin snob.

Find all posts by phoebe


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