This article was written by David Prince who took part in Museums Worcestershire work experience programme in 2016. He discovered a fascinating collection of invitations to events known as “smoking concerts” across Worcester in the late 19th century.
Popular especially during the Victorian period, smoking concerts were a method of entertainment for gentlemen only. They started out as only available to the higher classes of society but gradually lower classes were allowed to attend. Often musical performances, the event was suitable for men to gather and have conversations and debates, usually about politics. They would also drink, dine and smoke, listening to the newest musical forms of the era as well as take part in the entertainment themselves.
Smoking concerts were regular occasions held across Worcester. Whilst many were held at local inns, hotels were also where the event could take place, such as the Lansdowne Hotel in Lowesmoor. Both the Prince of Wales and the Duke of Edinburgh favoured these events at the time.
There were numerous types of smoking concert too, mainly depending on social status. Private aristocratic societies as well as smoking concerts for the armed forces provided entertainment.