Victorian Retreat

Historic Creeds
Sermon Archive

Victorian Weekend Retreat

Too often our modern conveniences and daily routines can create the emotional and spiritual clamor and clutter that snuff out our peace and joy. Every once in a while, try spending one weekend--just two days--enjoying the simple pastimes of 19th century life! Unplug your television, turn off your telephone ringer, and even say goodbye to your computer for a few days! And get your family and friends involved; ask your best friend or dearest sister to try out our weekend schedule with you, and let your children in on the fun! So if you're up for a weekend that will rejuventate the soul and refresh the spirit, keep reading.

Here are the ground rules. First, no television, computer, stereo, Sony playstation, etc. Remember, there were no televisions or computers during the 19th century! Commit yourself for two days not to flip on the tube, check your email, or surf the Web. Hey, at least you can still use electricity. Second, limit your telephone use. Okay, so a few Victorian families had a telephone, but they certainly didn't have their cell phones glued to their ears as they walked through the cobbled streets or picked berries in the field. Of course, we wouldn't want you to miss out on truly important news. So turn off your ringer and the volume of your answering machine, and only check your messages and return crucial phone calls after 9 p.m. (see our schedule). Third, no processed, pre-packaged or microwaved foods. Part of the fun (and perhaps the challenge) this weekend is to try your hand and preparing fresh meals from scratch. Remember, a hundred years ago there were no fast food drive-ins, Chinese takeouts, microwaves, food processors, and the like!

So if you're still game to try our weekend challenge, find a free weekend in the next few weeks (and keep it free). Browse our schedule beforehand, and collect all the items (if any) you will need. At a minimum, find a novel written by your favorite Victorian author; stock up on tea, fresh fruits and vegetables; and find materials for your Victorian craft project. We invite you to make modifications of our schedule and to add your own special touches. For example, if you can find a few couples to join in on the fun, consider spending Saturday evening recreating a Victorian ball or getting together for a 19th century game of cards. Then make sure that you take care of any pressing business on Friday night. If you have bills to pay, or a major project at the office that needs to be finished, do your best to get it done before your weekend starts so you won't have the unnecessary stress.


7:00 a.m. Rise and Shine. Learn to simplify your morning routine by not using the curling iron, hairdryer or electric toothbrush. You may be surprised how much extra time this leaves for yourself in the morning. Go easy on the makeup regiment for a day, and instead take a quiet morning stroll outside or get a fragrant pot of tea started early.

8:00 a.m. Breakfast. Keep it simple, but consider serving freshly baked scones, muffins or bread (prepare the dough the night before to save time). When was the last time you had breakfast right out of the oven?

9:00 a.m. Morning Devotional. Living a gracious and elegant life starts with finding spiritual peace. Start your day off right by finding strength and comfort in reading Scripture, rejoicing by singing your favorite hymns, or pouring out your soul in prayer. Our favorite classic devotionals written by saints from the Victorian era include My Utmost for His Highest by Oswald Chambers (1874-1917) and Morning and Evening by Charles Spurgeon (1834-1892).

10:00 a.m. Victorian Craft Project. Try your hand at a 19th century art or craft form. Silk ribbon embroidery is an elegant craft, and can be used to adorn pillows, clothing, hats, and much more. Or try making Spiced Pomander Balls or Tussie Mussies to make your home especially fragrant this weekend. (See our Arts and Crafts section for project ideas.)

11:30 a.m. Prepare Lunch. We recommend preparing a simple, one-dish meal such as Shepherd's Pie that can serve everyone. Or simply make a few sandwiches and a pitcher of Victorian Lavender Lemonade.

12:00 p.m. Lunch. Enjoy a leisurely lunch.

1:30 p.m. Afternoon Excursion. Find a local Victorian house museum or other historical attraction to spend the afternoon. (When choosing your weekend, you may want to find out if there are any special events in your area such as Renaissance fairs, afternoon Baroque music festivals, or Antiques shows to attend!)

3:30 p.m. High Tea. Brew a fragrant pot of tea, and serve finger sandwiches, fresh fruit, or cookies. Tea can be enjoyed in solitude as a special treat for yourself, or with your entire family as a festive affair.

5:00 p.m. Prepare Dinner. Try your hand at creating a historical dinner using our period menus. Or simply recreate your family's favorite meal... but remember to use fresh foods. If your recipe uses ready-made sauces or canned soup, consider finding a fresh alternative and creating your own!

6:30 p.m. Dinner. During the Victorian era, dinnertime was an occasion in its own right, often lasting for several hours. Nowadays, too often our dinners are taken hurriedly on the road or in front of the television set. Take the opportunity to dress up for dinner in your own home, spread out your finest table linens and silverware, and sit down for a proper meal. Light your meal by candlelight, and consider spending the entire evening without turning on the lights. Remember your table manners; the meal can also be a lovely way to gently instruct your children in dining etiquette.

8:00 p.m. Family Time. The idea of families spending the after-dinner hour simply conversing together is sadly lost in our modern lives. Take the opportunity to tell funny stories, share your thoughts about the future, or join in a family devotional.

9:00 p.m. Back to the Future. Okay, now you can check your phone messages and make a few necessary callbacks. And of course, take care of your evening routine.

10:00 p.m. Bedtime. For most of us, 10:00 p.m. may be a little early to turn in for the night, but enjoy the extra rest! Before electricity allowed families to light their homes at all hours, people usually went to bed shortly after nightfall. Just think, our modern schedules have made us more productive, but have also resulted in our bodies getting less sleep than we actually need.


7:00 a.m. Rise and Shine. You should feel noticeably more rested!

8:00 a.m. Breakfast. Serve a hot breakfast and try squeezing your own orange juice (you may want to make juice the evening before to save time).

9:00 a.m. Morning Devotional. Continue along in your passage of Scripture or devotional book.

10:00 a.m. Visit a Nearby Church. Take time out from your ordinary routine and visit a new church this Sunday. Preferably, find one within walking distance, and then do as the Victorians did... walk to Sunday service! The journey gave families the opportunity to prepare their hearts for worship beforehand, and also to share thoughts about the sermon afterwards.

12:30 p.m. Picnic Lunch and Afternoon Excursion. Enjoy a real picnic lunch at a nearby botanical garden or park, complete with picnic blanket (old sheets will do!) and plenty of goodies. Spend the afternoon taking a leisurely stroll, picking wildflowers, marveling at the beauty of creation and staring up at the clouds.

3:30 p.m. Read and Write. Whether indoors or outdoors, spend an hour reading a 19th century novel by Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Thomas Hardy, or Elizabeth Gaskell! Then, change gears by taking the next hour to write a letter or journal your thoughts. (If you need a mid-afternoon pickup, snack on a piece of fresh fruit and a cup of tea.) Letter writing is sadly a lost art today, but there is something uniquely intimate and personal about sending and receiving a hand-written letter in the mail. So choose a friend or relative that you haven't corresponded with for some time, and renew your letter-writing skills (and your relationship)! Consider designing or making or your stationery; even a few intentional doodles can go a long way in showing your friends an extra-amount of care. Or make your own greeting cards instead of buying them from the local Hallmark. They don't have to look professional (that's the point!)... Use colored paper, paste some pretty cut-outs, and copy a line of Scripture or poetry. Journaling is another wonderful way to spend leisure time. Writing your thoughts out on paper is an invaluable tool to understand oneself and life.

5:30 p.m. Prepare Dinner. Center the Sunday evening meal around a special theme! For example, decorate your table in the style of a first-class Titanic Captain's table, and then prepare dishes from the actual ship in 1912, as featured in our First-Class Titanic dinner menu.

6:30 p.m. Dinner. Consider having your guests come dressed according to your dinner theme. For example, ask your Titanic dinner guests to don turn of the century ball gowns!

8:00 p.m. Family Time. Choose one of our Victorian Party Games to try tonight!

9:00 p.m. Back to the Future. Check your phone messages and take care of business.

10:00 p.m. Bedtime. Reflect on the last two days and consider how you can incorporate some of our ideas into your "regular" schedule.