Servants in the Home

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. 😉


the Victorian Way

I’ve missed blogging about the house.  It makes sense that I haven’t written in a while due to the fact that we have slowed down production greatly in the past two months, but I still want to share our housey tidbits and journal everything we’ve come across as best I can.  So, I have decided to share more history about the house in some old posts that I wrote for my other blog (which I might be shutting down soon anyway).

It seems that our house has Victorian history as well as its own history about the family’s that lived here before us.  We know of several families due to the abstract that came with the house, and we’ve been told a few mighty fine stories along the way as well.  So, I’ll be adding those bits to the blog, too.  The photos might be lacking, however, but maybe I should dig around for some.  Wouldn’t it be cool to find photos of this house back in 1896, for instance? 

Anyway, I wrote about housekeeping in my previous blog ( and thought I’d repost here.

I have almost always enjoyed cleaning, or parts of cleaning, or at least the end result.  And now with a baby, I want my home cleaner than ever and it is harder to do.  I’ve heard, too, that it will stay hard, especially because I have a boy-child who will likely leave a room with muddy prints, pee stains or crumbs as soon as I de-clutter and cleanse.

A Victorian living room, circa 1890

Now that I’m so focused on cleaning, I’ve taken to a few very important tools that I cannot do without, and I’ve once again looked back in time to see how a true 1890s woman would dust her home.

She would have entered a room, covered all the upholstered furniture with cotton fabric and dusted with a large feather duster.  Then, the carpets would have been taken outside and hung to beat.  This imagery leaves me thinking that the house would have been filled with dusty air during a cleaning and likely long after instead of removing the dust entirely.  Although that might be appealing to some, to see the bits of dust flying around in a sunshine ray, I prefer to remove the dust entirely. . . . forever.

So, I’ve clung to my can of Pledge and my Swiffer dusters.  Ahh, the satisfaction.  They really aren’t paying me to talk about their products, but I can’t say enough how happy I am to dust with these.  I’m addicted.  Really, I believe in taking care of the environment and not using harsh chemicals or throwing away a lot of stuff to our overflowing landfills.  But, sometimes, I make the exception, and this is it. . . Pledge and Swiffers.

Any cleaning tools you can’t live without?