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Servants in the Home

March 2, 2012

Servants door at left leading downstairs

Another post from my previous blog

Our house was built with servants in mind, evident from the butler’s pantry and kitchen layout and also from the once present servants’ stairs.  I wouldn’t mind if these stairs were still in place, in keeping the house as it was originally built.  However, the stairs paralleled the family set and their removal opened the hallway to access the basement more easily.

Upstairs, it appears as though one bedroom was for the servant(s) as it is considerably smaller than the others and it has no heat.  We believe there was the kitchen chimney that went up through this room which would have kept it toasty, but that entire fireplace/stove had been removed long ago.

Knowing about the presence of servants in our house has peaked my interest in understanding more about how Victorian families kept their homes, considering our home is a Queen Ann Victorian built in 1894.

I’ve read some about the middle class Victorian ladies in London, to learn that it was customary to have one servant, and sometimes two if it could be afforded.  Just the daily tasks of keeping a home the size of mine would have required full time help.  There were chamber pots to be emptied and cleaned, laundry to be done and ironing, cooking over wood stoves and cleaning without a vacuum or Pledge.  Shopping was done daily because of the lack of cooling.  Seasons brought different chores, like canning, gardening, soap making or spring cleaning.

So to look at what the cost would be to have a servant in this day and time comparably. . . well, if I eliminated all of the goods that make my life contemporary:  phone, car, cable, internet, garbage removal, sewer, pellet stove, washer & dryer, fridge, dishwasher, freezer, air conditioning, insurance, car maintenance, gas, movies, music, computers, cosmetics, salon visits, and all the costs that go with these that I haven’t mentioned,  I would save a good chunk of money a month and it might be enough to pay a live in “servant” or “help” as we call it.  Honestly, I’d rather not have the help and just keep my internet. 😉

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