Today, for a little while, I watched a street performance known as PuppetBike. A puppet stage is brought to any street corner via bicycle, set up quickly, and the performers put their antique Steiff-looking puppets to work. All the children and their parents were charmed and fascinated. Here is a great interview with the inventor of the Puppet Bike that aired on WTTW in Chicago.
Puppets have been a great form of street entertainment for children for ages. The most famous puppets in the Victorian era were, of course, Punch and Judy, who were much too violent, sexist and racist for today's crowds. I found this interesting site explaining the history of Punch.
I also found this link to what looks to be a fascinating book... "Inside the Victorian Home" by Judith Flanders. I think I'll buy it!