As Maid Service Olney’s focus turns to spring cleaning, spare a thought for the maids of old.
Downton Abbey fans got a glimpse of below-stairs life, but what was it really like to clean a stately home in the days before vacuum cleaners, washing machines and modern-day cleaning chemicals?
The Complete Servant, by Samuel and Sarah Adams, was first published in 1825. It’s a fascinating source of social history, and a guide to what is was like to work in a large or modest house in late Georgian times.
Samuel and Sarah Adams were in service for 50 years, ending up as butler and housekeeper respectively. For many years, this book was the bible for how a house should be run.
Maid Service Olney: A Housemaid’s Work is Never Done
The housemaid’s day was a long one. She began by opening the shutters in the family’s living rooms, raking out and re-laying fires, and cleaning up any mess. Then, she would move on to the bedrooms. She would empty out slops from the chamber pots, light the fires and clean and dust the rooms, being careful not to wake the master or mistress.
After breakfast, there were more fires to be laid, beds to make, rooms to clean, food to serve, tables to be waited and cleared. Servants had to be discreet too. They had to carry out their work in a quiet, unnoticeable way.
Jobs included polishing furniture and the silver, beating carpets and rugs and endless dusting, thanks to all the fireplaces in large houses. The master and mistress would need their clothes washed and ironed, their shoes polished and their hair seen to. Most well-off women had a lady’s maid, whose main function was to attend to her mistress’s appearance.
Servants usually had to wait until their master or mistress went to bed too. It would be their job to help them undress, and ensure the bed was warm.
The highest placed servant was the butler, then the housekeeper – usually known by the title of Mrs, whether she was married or not.
In the 19th Century, stately homes had huge numbers of staff. At Welbeck Abbey, the home of the Duke of Portland, for example, there were more than 60 servants in the house, and a further 200 people working in the stables, gardens and farm.
It’s hard to imagine now – the modern-day equivalent would be a hotel – but remember your vacuum cleaner, your dishwasher and all, and be thankful!
Here at Budget-Maids, we offer a maid service Olney, a cleaning service in Potomac or house cleaning in Columbia and surrounds (i.e., VA and most of Maryland). Why not give us a call today and let us help you make your home stately house clean?