The initial entrance price of five shillings for the first three weeks attracted what the Times called 'the wealthy and the gently and nobly born', but at the end of May the price was dropped to a shilling and by the time the exhibition closed in October more than six million people had visited it; a number representing about a fifth of the population of Great Britain at the time. John Tallis, who wrote a guide to the exhibition, suggested that, 'All social distinctions were for the moment merged in the general feeling of pride and admiration at the wondrous result of science and labour exhibited in the Palace of Glass. Never before in England had there been so free and general a mixture of classes as under that roof.'
The classes and the masses. Punch (14 June 1851) This picture illustrates the insistence that all classes of society were equally intent on visiting the exhibition.
Nothing like the Crystal Palace had ever been built, and skeptics predicted that wind or vibration would cause the colossal structure to collapse.Prince Albert had detachments of soldiers march through the various galleries before the exhibit opened. No panes of glass broke loose as the soldiers marched about in lockstep, and the building was deemed safe for the public. As the royal family stood on a carpeted platform in the center hall of the Crystal Palace, surrounded by dignitaries and foreign ambassadors, Prince Albert read a formal statement about the purpose of the event. The Archbishop of Canterbury then called for God's blessing upon the exhibition, and a 600-voice choir sang Handel's "Hallelujah" chorus. Queen Victoria, in a pink formal gown suited to an official court occasion, declared the Great Exhibition to be open.
Her Majesty and the Princes passing through the Crystal Palace 1851 Print by H.Sharles. This lithograph shows Queen Victoria, Prince Albert and their children at the Great Exhibition of 1851. The venue was the Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London. Prince Albert had helped to set up the Great Exhibition. He appointed the Royal Commission to decide on the content, the building and its site. Queen Victoria opened the exhibition in the purpose-built Crystal Palace on 1 May 1851.
Tallis's History and Description of the Crystal Palace, and the Exhibition of the World's Industry in 1851, John Tallis & Co., 1852, from The Great Exhibition of 1851, Jeffrey A. Auerbach (1999)
Please feel free to leave comments,