Review: Mistress of Charlecote – The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy

Several years ago, I was browsing through a research book – the title now escapes me – when I followed a tiny bibliographic note to a memoir titled Mistress of Charlecote – The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy. Intrigued, I ordered a copy; and it has since become the favorite of all my research books. I admit, I haven’t read it from start to finish but willy-nilly, a few pages here and there. Yet wherever I begin reading, Mrs. Lucy’s voice immediately grabs me. It is intimate and unadorned, appealing to the modern reader. If you are a fan of Jane Austen or the late Regency and Victorian Eras, I highly recommend that you purchase this book.

One of the passages in her memoirs that really struck me was the description of her marriage to George Lucy in 1823. When her father informed her that she was to marry Mr. Lucy, she knelt and pleaded with him to refuse. But her father wouldn’t relent. She writes, “I had been brought up to obey my parents in everything and, though I dearly loved Papa, I had always rather feared him.” Mary Elizabeth runs to her mother in the nursery and weeps. Her mother assures the distraught young woman that she will learn to love her husband — an assumption that later proves correct. On her twentieth birthday, Mr. Lucy visited Elizabeth Lucy at her home, Boddlewyddan, in Wales (I’ve been there!), bringing her a Brussels lace wedding veil and jewelry made of diamonds and rubies. They were married on December 2nd by special license at St. Asaph. With tears in her eyes, Mary Elizabeth’s old nurse dressed her in a white silk bridal robe. Her new lady’s maid arranged her hair in a “wreath of orange blossoms.” Four bridesmaids wore “simple white cashmere, their bonnets lines with pink, my favorite color.” Lucy writes, “The solemnisation of the matrimony over, as I rose from my knees I fainted away.” Her nurse sprinkled water on the bride’s face to help her recover. Once the marriage was attested, the new Mrs. Lucy was dressed in a swan’s down tippet and muff that was “large enough for a harlequin to jump through (the fashion of the time)”. The bridesmaids threw old satin shoes for “good luck” and she rode away in her husband’s new carriage that was drawn by four horses with postilions, all decorated in “white favours.”

The book has lovely, realistic stories of society balls, dinner parties, Queen Victoria, and the Great Exhibition. Mrs. Lucy, widowed at forty-two, lived into her eighties. She had many children, several of whom died in infancy or youth and there are accounts of their illnesses and her anguish in the book. In all, the volume is a gracious description of a gentlewoman’s life in Victorian England.

Find out more about Charlecote and Mary Elizabeth Lucy at Charlecote Uncovered.

Another review of Mistress of Charlecote – The Memoirs of Mary Elizabeth Lucy on the Jane Austen Centre website

Colonel Rudderbuff Furnishes His Victorian Home

Writing is all about the details. But often I’m at a loss when trying to describe a room and furniture. Thank heavens for Colonel Rudderbuff. Now I, too, can furnish my fictional Victorian home and on a budget!

The following is excerpted from Cassell’s Family Magazine published in 1890:

Colonel Rudderbuff’s Possessions:  A Paper on Furniture

I hope that all my readers will understand that it is from no desire of boasting of my goods and chattels, but with a genuine wish to help others that I take up my pen to write a brief description of my house. I took to furnishing somewhat late in life, for I only married and settled down a year ago. My wife, dear creature, was just out of the school-room, a sweet child who knew nothing of the comparative merits of tables and chairs; so as I naturally wished our house to do us credit, I brought to the work the experience of my sixty years, and managed things myself. The result has been a grand success. I hear everywhere now that my house is the best furnished in the county; my neighbours admire it immensely; and I am beset with requests to tell them where and how I got my things, and, above all, what I paid for them.

So bored have I been by repeated reiterations of “Dear Colonel, would you mind telling me in confidence where you obtained that delightful easy-chair, or that softest of soft carpets?”  That, worn out by my own furniture, the idea of writing this paper came into my head, and I determined that once for all I would publish a description of some of my home treasures.

I am not going to bore my readers by lengthily describing my house, or even the individual rooms. It would not benefit them to hear of my old Chippendale furniture, my inlaid harpsichord, and Bartolozzi panels; even the price of my old oak would be no guide to them; tor these things range in price from the value that the sellers put upon them, and absolutely depend upon the fashion of the day.

Many of my curios are priceless in value—I try to forget what I paid for them—while others I picked up in Germany and France for next to nothing. But these have all their own individuality, while the things I want to tell you about are those that can be bought by all who want them.

My drawing-room is very large, and is almost entirely furnished in Chippendale. A casual observer would think that it was all of the same period, but I will tell you that the settee and chairs are modern, though if you could examine them you would find that they are quite as well made as the old. 1 am giving an illustration, in which you will notice that as the chairs are for a drawing-room they have straight cushioned backs, instead of having them cut as the dining-room Chippendale always are. This is much more comfortable. I paid twenty-seven guineas for this set. The chintz with which they are covered is well worth illustrating; it is one of the most beautiful of modern chintzes, for modern it is, though it looks as if made fifty years ago—faded yellow roses on a cream ground with dull olive-green foliage. It could not be more artistic nor more moderate in price, for it only cost one and eleven pence a yard. The summer curtains are made of this chintz lined with washing Italian cloth in cream-colour. In the winter I hang up curtains of olive-green velvet, and I hardly know which set looks best with my wall-paper, which is one of the now fashionable large patterns in one colour pale buff, on a lighter shade of the same.

My mantelshelf is of mahogany. Nothing else looks so suitable with Chippendale furniture. I have no overmantel, only a little real Chippendale mirror, costing about two pounds, mahogany with cut edges and a gilded cock. No Chippendale room should ever have an overmantel; it is the greatest mistake, as they do not belong to that period.

The beautiful standing cabinet with the glass doors and drawers, and the china cupboard (shown in the illustration), are both modern, though an exact copy of old Chippendale. They are wonderfully inexpensive for furniture of such good design and workmanship. I only paid £7 15s. 6d. for the cabinet and £4 17s.6d. for the cupboard. Look well at the carved tops; they give lightness and beauty to the whole. Give a glance also at my little corner stand in bamboo, with its bright-coloured palms and pots. These pots are joined to each other with a patent fastener, and can be taken apart and used for other purposes, while the stand will do for holding work-baskets, tea-cups, or books; it cost just half a guinea.

By rights the floor should be French-polished, and beyond a few rugs no carpet should be laid down. I tried this for a month, but the legs of sixty are not so nimble as those of twenty-five, and after I had entered my drawing-room head-foremost some half-dozen times I resolved to try a change. “Better be a slave to comfort than to fashion,” said I; so tight over the floor is now drawn an olive-green kalmuk at 1s. 11d. the yard. This colour does well with our covers and wall-paper, and makes a good ground for our beautiful antique Persian rugs.

And now I must introduce you to my library bookcases, but I should like to take you first into the dining room, and show you upon the dinner-table two new inventions which I find most useful. The first is my white china dinner set, with my crest in gold upon each article. You see nothing wonderful in it till the hot dishes are brought in, each fitted with a china cover bearing the crest. By hot dishes I mean the vegetable-dishes, soup-tureens, and sauce-bowls. The whole of the dish and cover is made of china. There is no metal fitting, but when the cover is tilted back it interlocks with the dish and supports itself in an upright position, thus obviating the usual difficulty of drips falling on the table-cloth or on the carpet when covers are removed. There is nothing unusual either in the appearance of my plated spoons and forks; you did not see them when half made as I did, and therefore have not the satisfaction of knowing that extra quantities of silver are deposited on the parts most liable to wear. Thus, on the back of the prongs of a fork, and also on the handle (where the principal friction comes), is an extra thickness of silver, making it about four times the ordinary durability. Both these are patent, and can be procured only from one firm.

My library bookcases are of black oak, and are fitted with curtains, which I like better than glass doors. Below the woodwork of the bookcase, just at the top of the first shelf, runs a little brass rod, and at the bottom of the last shelf you see another like it. Both these are fitted with rings, to which the curtains are attached. Two curtains are used, and they should be wide enough to fall in ample folds when drawn.

I think that my friends perhaps admire my library curtains more than anything in my house. They are of woven Bengalese silk, so fine that they could be almost drawn through a wedding-ring. They are made in many patterns in colours of straw and gold, with tints of pale green and strawberry intermixed. They are fringed and cost 45s. a pair. I hang my windows with them; but as for my bookcase I required width and not length, I bought a bed-quilt of the same material at 25s. 9d. This I cut in two, using the fringed side for the edge where the curtains join. I ought to add that my bookcase does not come down to the ground; it stands upon carved oak clipboards, and therefore the curtains and dark oak line one side of the wall.

My walls are covered with Morris blue willow-leaf paper, and to go with this I have a most beautiful Wilton carpet, electric-blue upon indigo; it cost me 5s. 6d. a yard, and is wearing splendidly. I have a high mantelshelf made in the Adams style and painted white ; it is not enamelled, but is “flatted,” which means that the paint is unvarnished, dull white. The little Adams mirror over the mantelpiece is flatted too ; it is a true copy from a very ancient one, and cost 26s. I hang no screens nor grasses above it, for such articles would be quite out of keeping with the style of my room; but on each side of the mirror hang little sketches painted in red on white opal, and framed in black wood. My clock is in a wrought-iron case, and wrought-iron gas-brackets project on each side of the fireplace. I do not pretend to call this library an Adams room, for the oak furniture would prevent that being possible. It is full of chairs of all periods, bought only for comfort, and has artistic treasures from many foreign lands scattered on the shelves and hanging on the walls.

My little carved oak corner table cost me only 30s.; it fits into the corner, and has a flap which can be let up or down at pleasure. Among my latest acquired curiosities is a Venetian painting, framed in a new way. The foundation of the framework is of deal, but it has been covered with a bright terra-cotta Roman satin, upon which a conventional pattern of dragons and cupids has been painted in steel-colour and gold in lustre. The effect is most excellent, and well repays any trouble taken in making it. My wife has copied it since very easily by simply ironing on an ordinary crewel transfer pattern, and then filling it up with the paint. She finds that the rather coarse Roman satin at 3s. 6d. the yard and 52 inches wide is the best for this purpose.

And now, as 1 begin to feel somewhat overpowered for want of my after-dinner nap, I think that I will finish. I have striven to satisfy my friends by describing some few of my possessions, but I have not touched on my greatest treasure, nor mentioned my latest purchase—it was a black oak cradle. And quite between ourselves, because it is a little early and my friends might smile, I will tell you that I have planned the next time I am in town to procure at a certain well-known shop in Regent Street a large spotted rocking-horse for the sole use of Baby Rudderbuff.

Domestic Offices in Victorian English Homes – Butler’s Pantry, Housekeeper’s Room, Servants’ Hall, Wash House and more.

Today I am excerpting again from Robert Kerr’s The Gentleman’s House: Or, How to Plan English Residences, from the Parsonage to the Palace; with Tables of Accomodation and Cost, and a Series of Selected Plans published in 1864/65.  In the last post from this book, I grabbed every usable house layout I could find in the text (many of the images weren’t scanned properly) Now, I’m going to post pictures from my family’s trip to Erddig Hall. Unfortunately, the trip took place so long ago that I no longer remember what images are what. So I will leave it for you to guess. Aren’t I sweet?

From The Gentleman’s House: 

The Butler’s-Pantry

The ancient Buttery or Butlery was the place of the Butler or Bottler, the dispenser of drink. The place of the Server or Sewer was the Sewery, the depository of napery, plate, and the like. The modern butler is both butler and chief sewer; and his Pantry, so called, accommodates both the service of wine and the service and stowage of plate,—chiefly the latter nowadays when drinking is in decadence and wealth increasing daily.

A position ought to be chosen for the Butler’s-Pantry which shall answer several purposes. It must be as near as possible to the Dining-room for convenience of service. It ought to be removed from general traffic (and especially from the Back door), for the safety of the plate. The communication with the Wine and Beer Cellars must be ready. When there is a Housekeeper’s-room, the butler (if there be no Steward) ought to be within easy reach of it, although apart; if there be a Steward, the butler must have ready access to his office; in both cases the transaction of hourly business being in question. With the Kitchen the butler may be said to have no intercourse whatever.

A proper Butler’s-Pantry will be of fair size, say from 12 or 14 feet square up to twice that size. A fireplace is essential. The fittings consist of a small dresser containing a pair of lead sinks with folding covers (for hot and cold water respectively, that is to say, for washing and rinsing), a washbasin (for dressing), large closets for glass, &c., a moveable table, perhaps a napkin-press, drawers for table-linen, shelving, and hat-pegs, and a closet for plate with sliding trays lined with baize. When the plate is of much value, it is usual to attach to the Pantry a fire-proof Plate-Safe with brick enclosure and iron door. Hot and cold water is to be laid on to the sinks; and if necessary the Plate-Safe may be warmed to expel damp.

A separate room for cleaning the plate, called the Plate Scullery, is useful where there is much of such work to do. It will open of course from the Pantry alone, and will contain the usual pair of sinks and a dresser.

The Butler’s-Bedroom is best placed in immediate connection with the Pantry, whereby the plate is under guard at night. Frequently, however, a closet-bedstead is provided for a subordinate in the Pantry itself; but this is obviously a makeshift. It is not unusual to place the door of the PlateSafe within the Butler’s Bedroom. In fact, one of the most essential points in respect of the Butler’s-rooms is to provide against the theft of the articles under his charge; and this idea must govern every question of plan.

In a very large establishment the charge of the plate will devolve upon the under butler, and a separate Butler’s-room will have to be provided for the superior servant (who may be valet also), but still close at hand for business.

Serving or Sideboard-room

It is extremely important in a house of any pretension that an apartment should be provided in communication with the Dining-room for the service of dinner. This appendage will be of such a size as to accord with the style of living, from 10 to 20 feet square; and will be simply furnished with a plain dresser whereon to place the dishes. It will of course be situated in the direction towards the Kitchen (by way of the Butler’s-Pantry), and will form in fact a species of Anteroom to the Dining-room for the serving of dinner, wine, and dessert. In small houses, rather than dispense with it altogether, a Lobby attached to the general Corridor of the Offices will suffice; but to make use of the Family-Staircase, or any Vestibule attached to the Family-Thoroughfares, is always a mistake. There is no great objection, however, to the Serving-room being made available as a sort of Vestibule, connecting the Dining-room with perhaps an outer door to the grounds or the like; but such a thing requires skilful management. The service-door beside the sideboard (see Dining-room) will open into this room either directly or by means of a small intervening Lobby, but no Corridor ought to be allowed to intervene to break the connection. A fireplace is not actually necessary, although not objectionable. A hot-table may perhaps be fitted up as part of the dresser in some cases. A lead sink and washbasin will often be found useful.

There is sometimes a separate appendage called the Butler’s-Service-room, directly attached to the Butler’s Pantry and communicating with the Dining-room through the general Sideboard-room. The fittings will be a dresser as before, for plate, wine, and dessert. It is an equivalent arrangement to place the Butler’s-Pantry in intercommunication with the Serving-room.

If the Offices should be situated in the Basement, the communication there from to the Sideboard-room (still to be attached to the Dining-room), must be specially contrived. For the passage of the servants there will be a Dinner-Stair, so situated as to be convenient for both Kitchen and Butler’sPantry. For the dishes there may be a lift. The position of the lift then becomes matter for careful adjustment. The size of a proper double lift is about 5 by 3 feet; and it must be absolutely vertical throughout.

Housekeeper’s Room

This is primarily the Business-room and Parlour of the housekeeper. The fittings, besides the ordinary furniture of a plain Sitting-room, will consist of spacious presses, from 18 to 24 inches deep, filled with drawers and shelving, for the accommodation of preserves, pickles, fancy groceries of all kinds, cakes, china, glass, linen, and so forth. It may be worthwhile to note that sugar is kept in drawers or canisters; tea in canisters; spiceries and light groceries in small drawers; cakes and biscuits in canisters; glass and china in drawers or on shelves; and linen in drawers; at least this arrangement is one that may be called the standard, although on the other hand certain of these articles will obviously be transferred to the Store-room if there be a complete one.

The chief considerations with regard to the position of the room are such as refer to convenience of supervision on the part of the housekeeper. For this purpose she ought to be near the Kitchen-Offices, and also near the Servants’-Hall in most instances. “It is, moreover, desirable that there may be sufficiently ready communication with the ordinary apartment of the lady of the house, whether Drawing-room or Boudoir. In many good houses below a certain standard the housekeeper is cook also: in such circumstances the Housekeeper’s-room and the Kitchen ought to be especially kept within easy reach of each other, although of course not connected.”

The upper servants take breakfast and tea, and perhaps pass the evening, with the housekeeper in this room, and it must be situated conveniently therefore for this purpose. The same persons dine here also if there be no Steward’s room.

In a large house where a special separation is effected between the men and women servants the housekeeper’s position is to be such as to overlook the women’s department, leaving that of the men to the butler or steward.

For the corresponding room in a small house see Storeroom.


This room in the best cases is provided for the use of the housekeeper and her special assistant the Still-room maid, in making preserves, cakes, and biscuits, preparing tea and coffee, and so on. In establishments of less magnitude it still relieves the Kitchen of all but luncheon and dinner cooking; and occasionally, as when the family are not at home, serves for Kitchen altogether. The pastry-work may also be done in it, and various odds and ends, to the further relief of the Kitchen. Sometimes it is connected with the Housekeeper’s-room by a door of intercommunication; but “this is not always convenient. It is also common to have a door between the Stillroom and the Store-room, so that the stores may be unpacked in the former apartment as matter of convenience; but this also is not always desirable. The Housekeeper’s-room, Stillroom, and Store-room, however, in any case will be well placed in conjunction.

The Still-room will be fitted up with a small range and boiler, a confectioner’s (iron) oven perhaps, sometimes a small hot-plate in connection, a covered lead sink (or a pair) with water supply, dresser, table, closets, and shelving.

Sometimes the Still-room is used as a Women-servants’ Hall, but not in very superior houses. In other instances an Outer-Kitchen (see Kitchen) is made to serve as a substitute for the Still-room, and then the purposes of a Women-servants’ Hall are more readily answered. In the latter case also the men-servants will be accommodated at tea in this apartment rather than in their own Hall.

Store-Room, etc.

This apartment accommodates groceries and other similar stores under charge of the housekeeper. It must be dry, cool, and well ventilated, or it will become offensive. It ought also to be warmed in winter. Its precise size will be according to the scale of the establishment, and in position it must always adjoin the Housekeeper’s-room or Still-room. The fittings will be a dresser with drawers, and closets underneath, broad shelving in two or three rows on the walls generally, and pin-rails in several quarters for different descriptions of goods to be hung up; brass hooks also on part of the shelving. One side of the floor may be left unoccupied for goods in boxes.

In a small establishment, where the stores are not large, the Store-room is sometimes made to serve certain of the purposes of a Housekeeper’s-room for the mistress. In such a case there will be required a better dresser, with a covered sink and water supply—larger space, indeed,—and a fireplace if possible. It may then serve also for the china, glass, and napery, and, if there be no Butler’s-Pantry, for the plate. It is, however, generally best to preserve a Store-room for its proper purposes; and in the case just described, if the room be divided into two, the inner part for the stores under lock and key, and the outer for the purposes of Housekeeping room and China-closet,—the arrangement will probably in most families be found superior. In cases of this kind the Store-room, which must necessarily be near the Kitchen, ought also to be conveniently placed for the lady’s access.

A small Closet here and there may be very usefully appropriated as a supplementary Store-closet for the miscellaneous purposes of the housekeeper. Such Closets may be in almost any quarter of the house, but more especially, of course, within what may be called the particular domain of the housekeeper rather than without its bounds. They must open from Corridors, of course, not from rooms. The fittings will be simply shelves; and in every case ventilation, and if possible light, should be secured. ”

China-Closet And Scullery

The China-closet is a small apartment near the Housekeeper’sroom, or otherwise conveniently situated if the lady be her own housekeeper, for stowing china and stoneware, &c., not in everyday use. It requires a table and dresser, and shelving around the walls. This Closet ought not to be dark, as it sometimes is. It may contain locked cupboards, if desired.

In superior cases there is sometimes attached to the Housekeeper’s-room a small special Scullery for china. Its fittings will be the usual dresser and a sink or washer. In the case of a China-closet of sufficient size this accommodation may be included in itself.

In a small house the China-closet, Butler’s-Pantry, and Housekeeper’s-room are combined, as alluded to in the last chapter.

The House-Steward’s office

This apartment belongs only to first-class establishments. It is a Business-room, which will also be the Sitting-room of the Steward; and it has his Bedroom generally in immediate connection, and a Strong-room or Safe for papers. There is nothing with regard to it which requires special notice, except that it ought to be near the Gentleman’s-room for the master’s convenience; besides that the access to it from without by the Business-room-Entrance should be easy for the convenience of the tradesmen. It may also be observed that it must be placed conveniently within reach of the housekeeper and butler. It ought also to be so situated as to command the entire department of the men-servants, for whose government the steward is responsible.

Steward’s-Room, Or Second-Table Room.

This in a superior house is the Dining-room of the upper servants, and incidentally a sort of common Business-room for them during the day and common Sitting-room in the evening. The house-steward claims the chief interest in the apartment, in his character of chief of the men-servants; but those who enjoy the right of dining here with him are the valet, the butler, the head cook, the housekeeper, the head lady’s-maid, and the head nurse, with strangers’ servants of equal rank, and some others occasionally or by invitation, not including however any persons of the lower grade, which is thus very clearly marked. It is accordingly the Upper-servants’ Hall.

The position of this room on plan is therefore not difficult to be understood. It ought obviously to be placed in most ready communication with the Kitchen for service, and at the same time so as to be convenient generally as regards its incidental uses. The furniture embraces dining-table and sideboard, a bookcase probably, and one or two closets or presses, and the like. A small Scullery is sometimes attached for washing and putting away dishes, &c.

Another purpose of the Steward’s-room is to receive visitors of the rank of the upper servants, and superior tradespeople and others coming on business; for whom it serves as a Waiting-room, and when occasion requires as a Refreshment room. It must therefore be so situated as to be readily accessible from the Back-Entrance; and the nearer it is also to the Steward’s-office and Gentleman’s Business-room the better.


This term is used to indicate an apartment which is indispensable in a Country-house of any pretensions, as the depository of sporting implements. A room from twelve to fifteen feet square, or sometimes larger, is fitted up round the walls with presses or glass cases and occasional drawers, according to the species and extent of the sporting to be provided for, in which to place the guns, fishing-rods, pouches, bags, baskets, flasks, canisters, nets, and all other appliances in proper order, upon pretty much the same general principles which may be ‘discerned in the arrangement of the same articles in the shops of their manufacturers. A table and two or three chairs will complete the furnishing of the room.

The Gun-room ought to be situated either in connexion with the Entrance-Hall, or, in a large house, near a secondary Entrance, as may be most convenient; not, of course, at a Garden-Porch, but perhaps at the Entrance pertaining to the Business-room, or the Luggage-Entrance. The apartment ought to have a good window; and a fireplace is important. It is also essential that precautions should be taken otherwise to secure dryness. The cases must be so made (as described for Library bookcases) as to have a free circulation of air all around and at the back, and the wood used must be thoroughly seasoned.

In small establishments we sometimes find the substitute for the Gun-room to be a suitable locked closet in the Servants’ Hall or even in the Butler’s-Pantry. In cases of the other extreme, the Gun-room will be in a separate building comprising the keeper’s dwelling also. There are likewise some instances where a family of the highest rank and of great ancestral dignity will still be found to keep up an Armoury, in a room or series of rooms designated accordingly, accommodating a stock of various arms for the defence of the peace if occasion should require, as well as a collection of warlike relics.

Servant’s Hall

In a small house the Kitchen serves for the Servants’-Hall; but in a larger establishment the provision of a separate apartment becomes necessary, and in a first-class Mansion there must be two such apartments,—one for the men-servants and one for the women, the upper-servants being accommodated separately besides in the Steward’s-room and Housekeeper’s-room.

The relative position for the Servants’-Hall is first near to the Kitchen, for convenience in serving meals; secondly between Kitchen and Butler’s-Pantry; and thirdly, if there be no separate room for the women, near the Housekeeper’s room for supervision. Fourthly, if there be a Women’s-room (sometimes called the Housemaids’-room), this will be near the Housekeeper’s-room on one side of the house, leaving the Servants’-Hall (still so called) near the Butler’s-Pantry or Steward’s-room on the other side for the men, quite apart; but as near as ever to the Kitchen, seeing that it is still the Dining-room of the lower servants as a whole; the Women’s room accommodating the maidservants as a sitting-room and workroom only. Fifthly, the Servants’-Hall ought to be near the Back-door, for readiness of access from without; as it is the Waiting-room for all persons of the rank of the under servants. It ought to have a comfortable fireside, and a prospect which shall be at least not disagreeable. The outlook, however, ought not to be towards the walks of the family; neither need it be towards the Approach. A small Scullery may be conveniently attached sometimes. One more consideration in the highest class of residences is reasonable access to the Beer-cellar; the usher (or the cellarer of old time) having it amongst his duties to receive strangers of his class and bring them refreshment.

The fittings are the centre table for meals, generally also a side table, or otherwise a dresser, one or more closets or dwarf closets, pin-rails for hats and cloaks, a jack-towel roller, perhaps a small bookcase, sometimes a closet subdivided into private lockers for certain of the servants.

In smaller houses the Servants’-Hall is often made to serve almost any incidental purpose; as for brushing clothes; or for ironing at times; or for dishing and serving dinner, with a hot-plate accordingly amongst its fittings; or for washing up, when a pair of butler’s sinks will be provided ; and so on. There are also a few instances where it is the Gun-room of the house, having a locked closet containing the sporting apparatus of the family under charge of the butler. There may sometimes be a Dressing-closet in connexion with the Servants’-Hall, fitted up with basins, pin-rails, towel-roller, &c., for the men. In smaller houses the Cleaning-room and the Butler’s-Pantry will serve this purpose.

There is one more apartment of the character of a Servants’ Hall which is required in an establishment of high standing, namely, a Ladies’-maids’-room ; and this is probably best situated on the Bedroom-Story, in connexion, of course with the Servants’ Corridor, at some convenient point for access for communication to the Main House. It will be an ordinary Sitting-room of its kind for the accommodation of the two ladies’-maids or more belonging to the family, together with those belonging to visitors. A good side-table ought to be provided for clear-starching.

Housemaid’s Closet

This is generally a small apartment, with proper light and ventilation, in which the housemaid keeps pails, dusters, candlesticks, a coalbox, &c., for the service of the Bedrooms. It ought to be provided in every house of even medium pretensions. It must contain a sink with water laid on, and proper waste to the drain. The water ought to be soft; if this can possibly be had. Hot water will also be laid on where there is a supply. Other fittings, if any, will be a small dresser with drawers, shelving, pin-rail, and perhaps a cupboard.


In a good Mansion there ought to be these Closets in several situations, for the convenience of the servants, and the prevention of their carrying pails about in all directions. It is to be observed, however, that the place selected for any such apartment ought to be not amongst the Bedrooms themselves, or on a chief Staircase or Corridor, but rather in a Servants’ Passage and at some point of junction with the Main House or at the end of a Corridor.

It is generally well to provide a Housemaid’s Closet also on the Ground-floor or Basement; this being not for the Bedroom work, but for that pertaining to the Principal Rooms. In large houses more especially this accommodation is desirable. A very small closet is sufficient, to hold brooms, cloths, stove-brushes, and the like. It ought of course to be situated amongst those offices which are on the women’s side, and not too far off from the chief Thoroughfares.

Cleaning—Rooms, Etc.

In a house of moderate size the brushing of clothes will be done in the Servants’-Hall; but it is desirable in a larger establishment to have a separate and special place for this purpose. It need only be said that it will be a small room adjoining the Butler’s-Pantry or Servants’-Hall, containing a large table and little else. If there be a fireplace all the better; in a large Country-house, indeed, the fireplace ought to be a good one, so that the wet garments, whether of the family or the servants, may be dried there, rather than in the Servants’-Hall or Kitchen. Sometimes where the Bedrooms are very numerous there may be an advantage in making in two or three places a spacious landing on the Back-Stairs to receive a brushing-table.

There are other small apartments of the same class, still on the men’s side of the house (where there is such a distinction), where knives and boots are cleaned, called the Knife-room and Shoe-room. They may be in the Kitchen-court rather than indoors, if so preferred.

In Country-houses where oil-lamps have to be used, it becomes necessary to provide, near the Kitchen, Servants’ Hall, or Butler’s-Pantry, according to the scale of the house, a small room for trimming these, and indeed for depositing them during the day. It must contain a table, shelves around the walls, and perhaps a locked cupboard (or an inner closet) to receive the oil-cans and some of the valuable lamps. Candlesticks properly pertain to the Housemaid’s Closet; but it is not uncommon to combine that apartment with the Lamproom, or to make the latter an inner closet to the former. All silver of this department goes to the Butler’s-Pantry for safety.

The Laundry offices

It is sometimes considered desirable to constitute this department a separate building at a distance,—at the Stables perhaps, or the Farm-yard; and this chiefly on account of the difficulty of attaching a Drying or Bleaching-ground to the House itself. On the other hand, if the lady of the house or the housekeeper desires to supervise the operations of the Laundry, the provision of a Hot-closet will enable the Drying-ground to be dispensed with; while, as regards bleaching, a portion of the linen may obviously be carried in baskets to a green at a distance with less labour than would be required to convey the whole to a Wash-house equally removed. It may be therefore laid d0wn as the best advice, that, for those establishments, chiefly on a smaller scale, in which the supervision of this department of the work is of importance, its Offices ought to be in connexion with the House, and that in cases where the amount of labour is larger, and the habits of the family less homely, distinct Laundry Offices at a distance may be very much preferable.


A wash-house on the ordinary scale for a good Country house will be an apartment of about 20 or 25 feet by 15 or 20. It must be well lighted, and lofty. The escape of steam must be provided for by numerous air-flues or other openings at the ceiling, or a large louvred ventilator, as circumstances may dictate; and fresh air may be admitted, whether at the floor or ceiling, by regulated openings. In position it ought obviously to be well removed from the Family-rooms and also from the Lawn, as the smell of washing sometimes travels far. The apparatus comprises a largecopper or boiling-pan; a sort of dresser containing four, six, or more wash-trays, having hot and cold water laid on, and a waste from each, with grated washer, plug, and chain; separate boiler apparatus may be needed for the supply of hot water; a place may be required also for a wringing-machine, perhaps for a washing-machine or the like; and a good-sized table will be desirable in any convenient position. The wash-trays ought to be under the light; their dimensions are generally about 2% or 3 feet by 18 or 24 inches and 18 inches deep, the width at bottom being 6 inches less. The floor must be of stone, with a drain for cleansing; and there ought to be loose standing boards provided at the front of the trays.


The question of fuel must not be forgotten: either the Coal-cellar must be at hand or a special Store provided.

The Laundry to correspond will be in size rather larger than the Wash-house. It must be well lighted and ventilated; and the floor ought to be of wood. For apparatus there will be one or more ironing-tables under the light; an ironing stove (which is a close stove or hot-plate on which the irons are placed to heat); a spare table; and a mangle or its equivalent. An average ironing-table will be 6 or 8 feet by 3 or 4; or one of any greater length may be provided for more than one laundress at work. An old-fashioned mangle is about 8 feet by 4, and requires a space of 4 feet at each end for the box to pull out; newer inventions however take up very little room. The mangle may be put in that part of the room where the light happens to be deficient.

The Wash-house and Laundry; are generally placed together, with intercommunication. Sometimes the Laundry is placed over the Wash-house, with a small stair for access; but this is not always convenient. It is also frequently the case in small houses that the work of the Laundry is done in the Kitchen, and a Wash-house only provided in addition; whilst in the smallest class, for still greater economy of space, the Wash-house and the Scullery are often one. Under these latter arrangements it is well to allow a little additional size for the apartments in question.

In cases where the Laundry department is placed at a distance, there may often be required a small Wash-house within the House to be used by the ladies’-maids and others, and for ironing a table may be fixed in the same place, or in the Women’s-room. In larger houses, however, where the ladies’-maids have much clear-starching to do, they will expect to be accommodated rather in what they consider to be their own department; and so it is not uncommon to find some unoccupied Bedroom thus appropriated, or one of the Nursery rooms. The Housekeeper’s-room also is sometimes made to do duty in this way; or the Front or Outer-Kitchen if any; and the Servants’-Hall is occasionally turned to account, although in houses of superior class this cannot be done.

Drying-Room, Hot-Closet

An old-fashioned Drying-room is a loft or the like of large size, with or without windows in the walls, but almost invariably with a louvred ventilator or lantern at the ceiling. The linen is hung on horses, which are run up to the ceiling by weights or otherwise ; and by means of hot-water coils at the floor, or one or more stoves, the temperature is so kept up as to evaporate the moisture with great rapidity. Such an apartment ought to be near the Wash-house and Laundry, and may be very conveniently placed over either or both.

A recent improvement upon this is the Hot-closet, which is a walled chamber immediately attached to the Laundry, about 6 or 8 feet square for ordinary cases. It contains a number of horses or upright frames sliding side by side, which have to be drawn out to their full length to be loaded with the wet linen, and then pushed back into the closet; and there is a series of interposed coils of hot-water pipes within, by which the temperature is kept at the requisite point for rapid evaporation. The steam escapes by a proper flue; and air is chiefly admitted, or even wholly, by the crevices of the shutters or flanges attached to the horses to close up the front. The hot-water circulation generally requires a special furnace underneath or at one side; to which there ought of course to be attached a small receptacle for fuel.

In small establishments where there is no Hot-closet, the operation of drying indoors is sometimes provided for by constituting the Laundry a Drying-room of the kind first described; but this is not a good plan. There are also Drying-rooms which depend upon thorough draught only, without heat, an obviously simple plan at the least.

Soiled-Linen Closet

This is a necessary item in every house, of a size proportioned to the requirements.

It is probably best placed adjoining the Washhouse, or near it, but not in any position where pilfering is to be feared in case the door be left unlocked. In small houses a place on the Bedroom floor is frequently preferred on this account. Let such a closet be ventilated if not lighted. A very useful arrangement is to have it of good size, and lighted, and to fit it up with a number of bins for the classification of the articles. A bin or box should also be provided in the Wash-house itself for the work in hand.

Linen-Room, etc.

This is a small apartment placed near the Bedrooms, where the bed and table-linen of the establishment is kept in stock; personal linen being carried directly to the Bedrooms and Dressing-rooms, and the table-linen actually in use being placed in charge of the butler or other equivalent servant. Its fittings consist of a dresser under the light for folding, with drawers and presses according to the size of the establishment, containing sliding trays and shelves; and chests of drawers underneath.

A Linen-room ought to be so situated that the access of the servants shall be ready on all sides, but without its being too prominently placed. It ought to be very dry and well ventilated; if there be heating apparatus in the house, it may be heated thereby; if not, there may be a fireplace.

A Closet for spare bedding and upholstery is sometimes provided; requiring no description, except that it may be fitted up with either presses or broad shelves according to its size. It ought to be well ventilated.

Additional Images:

Victorian Kitchens, Sculleries, Larders and Pastry Rooms

I found a reference to The Gentleman’s House: Or, How to Plan English Residences, from the Parsonage to the Palace; with Tables of Accomodation and Cost, and a Series of Selected Plans  by Robert Kerr and published in 1865 when I was preparing an excerpt from Scribner’s Magazine on floor plans from old houses in NYC.  I located Kerr’s work on Google Books, did a quick scan of images and saw a layout of a scullery. Wait! Hold everything on NYC!  Let’s take a look at English kitchens instead.

Excerpted from The Gentleman’s House: 


The rise and progress of this important item of plan has been traced in general terms in our opening treatise; first coming into view as the occasional appendage of a noble Residence in early times, with its centre fire and roof above open to the sky, its “Cellar” attached, and little else; and attaining at last in our own day the character of a complicated laboratory, surrounded by numerous accessories specially contrived, in respect of disposition, arrangement, and fittings for the administration of the culinary art in all its professional details.

Dealing with it, however, as we see it in the present day, we may begin by pointing out that it demands a position which may be called primary on the plan; having proper relation, first, to the Larders and the Back-Entrance for supplies; secondly to the Scullery for cleansing; thirdly to the Dining-room (or its Sideboard-room) for service; fourthly to the Servants’-Hall and Steward’s-room if any; and fifthly to the Housekeeper’s-room and Still-room if any.

Its purpose is essentially cooking; and what it has invariably to accommodate is the cooking-apparatus on whatever scale may be suitable, one or more dressers, a centre table, and some minor matters, all of which will be described in turn.

Light in abundance is most important; and this with equal reference to the cooking-apparatus, the dressers, the centre table, and whatever else; in a word, it ought to be well lighted everywhere. For this reason a ceiling-light is preferred in Kitchens of magnitude; although at the same time wall-lights ought probably never to be altogether dispensed with. When there is no ceiling-light, perhaps it is in all cases most advisable to form a single window of large size, rather than several small ones, unless the room be very spacious indeed. Such side-light ought, lastly, to flank the range rather than to be in front of it, and this on the cook’s left side rather than the right, when working over the fire.

Coolness is exceedingly necessary, for two reasons; first that the unpleasantness of the fire heat may not be needlessly augmented, and secondly that the air may not be tainted. The Aspect of wall-windows ought therefore to be Northward or Eastward, never Southward or Westward. Any ceiling-light ought to be so placed as to avoid hot sunshine. To make a Kitchen especially lofty (two stories in one in important instances) becomes also a means to the same end. The roofing, it need scarcely be said, ought not to admit the heat of sunshine.

Dryness must not be neglected. If there be any damp in the floor or walls, the air will so far lose its freshness, and the cook will justly complain. It is to be borne in mind too that the heat within does not always dry such damp, but in some cases is supposed rather to promote its ingress.

Particular attention must be directed to ventilation; and this not altogether, or even chiefly, on account of temperature, but rather for the avoidance of that well-known nuisance the generation and transmission of kitchen-odours. It ought even to be made matter of special contrivance in particular cases that the vapours of cooking shall be hurried off as they arise, carried in a direction away from the Main House, and if possible discharged into the outer air at such a point and at such a height as to be altogether lost. This may be effected, for example, by having a considerable vacancy of roof above the ceiling, with a discharge there from by an air-shaft amongst the chimney-flues. Steam has also to be carried off, for which the same means will suffice. A canopy or hood over the cooking-apparatus a little above the height of a man will be sometimes useful, having an air-flue for outlet. The shaft in all cases will be useless, however, unless it be large.

The floor of a Kitchen of good size ought to be of stone. A central space of wood under and around the table is generally provided; but if the stone floor be perfectly dry this may be dispensed with ; otherwise a piece of matting or carpet under the table will suffice; or, as is not unusual, a standing-board, about 2 feet wide and ledged, laid loose around a table or along the front of a dresser. In small houses, however, when the Kitchen serves also as the Servants’-Hall, a wood floor for the whole is sometimes preferred.

In all cases where extensive operations are to be carried on, the wall-covering, or at least the lower part of it, ought to be not common plaster-work, but some material which shall resist damage and admit of frequent cleaning,—boarding, perhaps, or hard cement, or even stone, tiles, glazed bricks, or the like.

The doors of a Kitchen generally are these:—one for entrance from the Corridor, which is to be well removed from the fireplace; one to enter the Scullery, which is best close to the fireplace, for convenience of constant passage to and fro while cooking; and usually one to lead to the Larders. An outer door to the Kitchen-yard is probably never advisable, although appearing in some examples. In addition to these doors there may be a hatch, that is to say a lifting window or shutter, for the delivery of dinner.

Amongst the plans which constitute our illustrations the reader will find many varieties of the Kitchen and its appurtenances, which will amply illustrate almost all points of inquiry.

The Cooking-apparatus in a good standard example will be as follows. The fireplace, for a roasting-range with boiler at the back (and perhaps oven), will be placed centrally in the side wall, from 5 to 7 or 8 feet wide, with a depth of from 27 to 36 inches. A roasting-screen in front will project about 3 1/2 feet. The standard size for the chimney-flue of the range is 14 by 14 inches; for a large range, and to include any other flue, 18 by 14. This accommodates the smoke-jack. There may also be minor flues, 14 by 9 inches, as required for other apparatus; if possible, every separate fire ought to have its own flue; that is to say, the practice of carrying these into the main flue is always to be disapproved. If it do not form part of the range, the oven will be placed next the range, separately, occupying about 31/2 or 4 feet by 21/2 on plan, with its fire-grate and flue. Stewing stoves, two, three, or four in number, will be from 3 to 5 feet by 2 1/2  feet on plan; with grates about 10 inches square for charcoal: they will stand in conjunction with the other cooking-apparatus, and in the best light, probably at one extremity of the series. The hot-plate, including the broiling-stove, will probably adjoin the range, or otherwise be close at hand, and will occupy on an average 6 feet by 30 inches. A hot-closet, wherein to place the viands to be kept warm and the plates and dishes to be warmed for use, may occupy almost any position in conjunction with the rest. It will be about 4 feet by 27 inches on plan, and will be heated probably from the range-boiler. A hot-table is a useful addition in good Kitchens, set in almost any position for keeping warm the dishes during the operation of service. It will occupy about 4 feet, less or more, by from 2 to 3 feet, and will be heated probably by steam from the range-boiler. A pair ofcoppers are occasionally placed in the Kitchen (when the Scullery is less perfect than the rule), for boiling vegetables, fish, joints, &c.: they occupy about 4 feet by 3 on plan. Otherwise, as preferable for ordinary cases, there will be a set of perhaps three steam-kettles placed on a dresser and heated from the range, and occupying about 4 feet by 2. A bain-marie is a supplementary article for purposes similar to those of the hot-plate; it is about 2 1/2 feet by 2 feet, and is heated by steam or water from the range-boiler. A hot-water cistern, if required, will be placed in some corner (either of Kitchen or Scullery) conveniently, as a reservoir of supply from the range. Lastly, a coal-box ought to be provided in connection, perhaps under the hot-plate or in some other such place. In the absence of other instructions, the architect is expected to provide accommodation for all these appliances in proper order; but if the proprietor or his cook should happen to be in any way fastidious about the matter, there are so many ingenious contrivances competing for public favour that the architect will do well not to interfere further than by promoting a timely selection, and taking care that there shall be no deficiency of smoke-flues and ventilation.

The further Fittings for a case the same as before will be these. The ordinary kitchen dresser is 10 or 12 feet long by 30 or 36 inches wide; and it has one tier of large drawers about 10 inches deep. It stands against the wall, and the space under the drawers is sometimes open and sometimes enclosed with doors; in either case accommodating the cooking utensils, which are placed on a bottom shelf or pot-board raised about 6 or 9 inches from the floor. The wall-space is covered to the height of about 7 feet by the dresser-back, consisting of a surface of boarding which supports several tiers of narrow shelves for the ordinary dinner stoneware, or for the copper articles, the edges being studded with small brass hooks for jugs, &c. In a large kitchen there will be one or more side-dressers to occupy the wall-space elsewhere, but probably without back or pot-board. A coffee-mill, pepper-mill, and a spice-mill, may be fixed in convenient positions on the sides of the dresser-back, or close at hand. An ordinary kitchentable is from 8 to 10 feet long and about 4 feet wide or a little more, and is set in the midst of the floor, so as to be in ready communication with the whole of the cooking-apparatus, the hot-closet and hot-table, if any, the dressers, and the Scullery door, equally. It has one tier of drawers about 24 inches wide, and is open underneath. It may have a marble slab, or perhaps two, let into the top for the advantage of certain processes of preparation. A mortar is generally fixed in any vacant place near the dresser. A chopping-block also is sometimes accommodated similarly. Shelving for the copper things in any convenient place, if not on a dresser-back, will be required; and also smaller shelves and pins beside the cooking-apparatus at a convenient height for depositing forks, spoons, and other articles there in use. A spit-rack may occupy any spare corner. Pin-rails for metal dish-covers will be put near the dresser. A common cupboard is always convenient. Towel-rollers are required. A Fuel-closet ought also to be thought of, sufficiently near the Kitchen, for a considerable supply.

In the largest Kitchens there is generally nothing further contained except in the way of amplification of the apparatus and fittings above described. In some instances, however, where the operations of mere cooking are more extensive, those of preparing, dishing, and garnishing are excluded from the apartment, and with them the accommodation for utensils and dishes, and also tho common dresser, hot-table, hot-closet, &c, except in forms more peculiarly applicable to cooking alone. A Dishing-Kitchen, in contradistinction to the Cooking-Kitchen, is then provided. Its fittings are a range for supplementary purposes, dressers with backs, centre table, hot-plates, and hot-closets, probably a service-hatch, cupboards perhaps, and shelving, drawers, pin-rails, &C., as before. The dishing being thus disposed of, the preparing is to a large extent accommodated in the Scullery and Larders, amplified accordingly.

In small Kitchens, on the other hand, the complexity of the arrangements is much diminished. A range,containing oven and boiler, occupies the fireplace, and constitutes perhaps the entire cooking-apparatus; the smoke-jack is most probably dispensed with ; in the case of a close range (that is, one with doors and cover to enclose the fire at pleasure) there will probably be all that is required for hot-plate on the cover itself, and a substitute for hot-closet and hot-table in the open space of the fireplace above; the roasting-screen also will serve similar purposes to these; an adjoining hot-plate of small size may be added for a somewhat superior case, but nothing more; and the usual dresser and back, table, shelves and pintails, cupboard, coal-box, mortar, coffee-mill, and towel-roller, will make all complete.

In the smallest Kitchens, few if any of these items will be omitted, but the diminished scale of the whole meets the case. Let this, however, be a rule, that in no circumstances ought a Kitchen to include the fittings proper to a Scullery,—for instance, the usual sink and plate-rack. Neither ought there to be any compromise of the independence of the Larder,—as when, for example, a Cook’s Pantry for cold meats and pastry takes the form of a close closet in the kitchen corner.

The size of a Kitchen for a small house may be from 15 to 18 feet square: it should never be too small. For a Mansion it will increase to as much as 18 or 20 feet by 25 or 30; sometimes going even beyond these dimensions, although present custom leans rather towards a reduction of size and an increase of compactness. It should never be less than 10 feet high in the smallest house; 20 feet will not be too much in the largest.

The use of a Kitchen as a Servants’ Hall can only be admissible in small houses, where, for instance, there is no manservant, and where the cooking is on a modest scale, and the apparatus consequently less prominent; but the standard two maid-servants, or even three and a page, can very well make the Kitchen their Hall. Here, however, there must not be forgotten some little regard to Sitting-room conveniences; culinary smells must be got rid of; a boarded floor generally will be expected; and a little extra size will probably be required.

To place the Kitchen in proper relation to the Dining-room, so as to facilitate the process of serving dinner hot, is of the greatest importance in all cases; and it is in the best class of houses that the difficulties of this question are greatest, owing to the extension of distances on the plan, the augmented amount of obnoxious kitchen odours, the increased interference of other traffic, and of course the considerations pertaining to more delicate eatables and more fastidious eaters. The means of communication, or Dinner-route, ought to be primarily as direct, as straight, and as easy as can be contrived, and as free as possible from interfering traffic. At the same time it is even more essential still that the transmission of kitchen smells to the Family Apartments shall be guarded against; not merely by the unavailing interposition of a Passage-door, but by such expedients as an elongated and perhaps circuitous route, an interposed current of outer air, and so on,—expedients obviously depending for their success upon those very qualities which obstruct the service and cool the dishes. In respect of this we can only say that every case has its own peculiarities; and that there are few if any general rules to be relied upon. A delivery-hatch, or lifting sash or shutter (like the “buttery hatch” of the medieval time), opening from the Kitchen to a Corridor or Lobby, or Service-closet, or sometimes to the Servants’-Hall, with a dresser within and without, is a very convenient arrangement for delivering the dishes to the servants without their entering to encumber the Kitchen. When by this means the Kitchen door is rendered capable of being removed still farther from the Main House, for the avoidance of smells, so much the better. Another excellent measure for preventing smells, but at the expense of facilities of service, is to place the Kitchen door in an external position, communicating with the House only under a porch, pent-roof, or covered-way.

In some instances, the purpose of ventilation might be equally well served by forming in the Corridor a window to open sufficiently near the kitchen door, or two such windows opposite one another. The passage-way from the Kitchen to the Main House ought of course to be wide throughout, and thoroughly ventilated; and no Staircase ought to open out of it to carry the odours upwards.

When there is a Basement-Kitchen the difficulties of route are overcome by having a special Dinner-Stair (or by adapting the Men-servants’ Stair to the purpose), or by using a Lift; the transmission of smells, however, may possibly be increased by such means, and the plan of the external Kitchen door is still well worthy of consideration. Again, with a Basement-Kitchen we have to avoid the placing of its windows under those of any room where the smells will be unwelcome,— as also the placing of the kitchen itself under any room where its heat will be unwelcome; the hood over the cooking-apparatus is especially necessary.

As the position of the Kitchen governs the arrangement of its accessories,—Scullery, Larders, &C., —it need only be remarked here that all these must be kept in view in determining such position. The relations which they bear to the Kitchen will be treated of in dealing with them in their order. The relations of other Offices to the Kitchen will be taken up in the same way in the chapters on the Servants’-Hall, Housekeeper’s-room, Steward’s-room, Still-room, &C., and in the chapter on Thoroughfares and General Plan.

In some of the largest houses there is provided, as separate from the Cooking-Kitchen, an apartment under the name of Outer-Kitchen. There is no Still-room (which see) in such a case; this apartment being made to serve all its purposes, and others of like character, the making of the pastry for example. Here also the lady of the house may come to confer with the cook or to give directions in respect of the kitchen department. The fixtures and furniture will be very nearly such as are usual in the Housekeeper’s-room (which see), with a dresser and centre table, and perhaps rails for dish covers, the copper vessels being left in the Cooking-Kitchen.

The Cook’s-Room (see this under the section of Servants’ DayRooms) becomes a necessary adjunct of the Kitchen when a mancook is kept: it is in fact his official retreat where alone he can reflect upon the mysteries of his art and consult his authorities.


The Scullery is so intimately connected with the Kitchen that there must on no account be any intervening space between them, even it be the smallest Passage or Lobby. On the contrary, the door of intercommunication and the internal arrangements of both rooms ought to be so contrived that the passing of the servants to and fro between the cooking-apparatus, dressers, and table in the one, and the sinks, plate-racks, dresser, and copper or boilers in the other, may be in every possible way most convenient and ready. This door, therefore, in ordinary cases may be placed as near to the Kitchen fireplace as can be managed, leaving sufficient space for the operations of the cook to be carried on there without disturbance, but not being a single step out of the way of those operations.  The opening of the door ought to be outwards from the Kitchen into the Scullery.

Good light and ventilation, coolness, and dryness, as in the Kitchen, are still important here; because the Scullery is to be used, not merely for washing dishes and vessels, but for preparing vegetables, fish, game, and so forth, for the Kitchen.

It is often desirable that there should be some ready means of passing from the Scullery into the open air. Sometimes there will be an outer door in the room itself; but it is preferable in most cases to place this door rather in a Passage, so as to serve the kitchen and adjoining Offices also. The purpose of the door is to lead to the Coal-Cellar perhaps, the Wood-house, and the Ash-bin, as well as to bring into connection with the Scullery the Kitchen Court for various incidental matters of out-door cleansing. It is not desirable, however, that this should be constituted the Back Entrance of the house, except in very small examples. Moreover, in perhaps the majority of the best plans the principle of communication in question is altogether ignored; the Kitchen Entrance giving access to Kitchen and Larders, but the Scullery being a mere cleansing-room behind the kitchen.

No direct communication from the Scullery is proper to any Larder, Dairy, Pantry, or other such Store-room; because the air of a Scullery, what with steam, heat, and vapours, can never be what one would wish for these Offices. If there be a special Closet for the Kitchen utensils, this may open out of the Scullery very suitably; as also the Closet for fuel.

First amongst the Fixtures there may be a boiling-copper for kitchen cloths, and for supplying hot water for cleansing, if such be not otherwise provided. There may also be a pair of coppers for vegetables, &c, if not in the Kitchen; these to be conveniently near the Kitchen range. A second cooking-range on a small scale is usually provided in the Scullery in occasional aid of the Kitchen apparatus. Next may be mentioned the sinks or washers:let these be placed if possible directly under the light. Cold water must be laid on to each, and hot water also from the Kitchen boiler probably. Let the waste-pipe be so contrived that it shall be neither liable to become choked by the congelation of fat, nor capable of being opened by the servants in their eagerness to promote the passage of substances which are better kept back. A single stone sink, 18 inches wide and from 3 to 4 feet long, will suffice for a small house; a complete set of washers for a large establishment will comprehend two of slate and as many as four of wood, the size of each being about 3 or 3 ½ feet by 2 1/2, and 21 inches deep. Next among the fixtures we may refer to the dresser, to be placed in full light,—merely a strong plain table. Sometimes there will be more than one of such dressers, and these will have backs and shelving to accommodate the stoneware of the servants. There may also be a central table as in the Kitchen, but smaller. A plate-rack has also to be provided, placed above the sink or washers, to drain there into by means of a drip-board, slightly inclined and grooved; in large Sculleries there will be two of these. Beside a sink in any case there may be formed, as a rule, a small piece of dresser of this kind by way of continuation, whereon to place articles in hand.

In smaller houses the Scullery will sometimes be made a spacious place-of-all-work, washing especially included; in other cases it will be used as a Bakehouse; if so it must be made sufficiently large, and there must be provided in the latter case a proper position for a brick Oven. The dresser must also be increased in size for handling the bread.

The Scullery floor ought always to be of paving, with a draintrap placed in a suitable corner to carry off the water with which it requires to be frequently cleansed.

The drainage is important, for the vapours from a Scullery drain are notably unpleasant.

Cook’s Pantry Or Dry-larder (and Larder Generally)

The modern Cook’s Pantry or Dry Larder is a small apartment close to the Kitchen, in which are kept cold meats and whatever may accord therewith. In ordinary cases it serves for bread, pastry, milk, butter, and so on; but the rule is to exclude all uncooked meats, including poultry, game, and fish.

It is plain that this is a modification of the ancient Pantry, the name of Dry-Larder being a modern phrase which really confuses the idea. The old Larder accommodated larded or preserved meat raw, and the old Pantry was the bread-store: the modern Larder still takes the meat raw, but the Pantry is less identified with bread than with meat cooked; so we call the raw meat store a Wet-larder and the cooked meat store a Dry-larder. The more homely phraseology however still prevails to a very considerable extent, in respect of smaller houses, speaking of Larder and Pantry simply. In large establishments the Pantry is relieved by the pastry going to a Pastry-Larder, and sometimes the bread to a Bread-Store; whilst the milk and butter may be transferred to a Dairy. In like manner the Larder becomes relieved by a Game-Larder, and perhaps a Fish Larder. 

The primary considerations in a Larder of whatever kind are coolness of temperature, freshness of ventilation, and dryness. The aspect of windows must therefore favour the North and East; the transmission of heat through the roof must be prevented; floor and walls must be perfectly free from damp; a constant current of air must be promoted; and that air must not come from any tainted, damp, dusty, or heated source, from .ash-bin or drain-trap, window of Beer-cellar, Scullery, Washhouse, Laundry, Stable, or anything of the sort. There ought also to be no fireplace or hot smoke-flue in its walls.

A plan which is theoretically very good is to form a detached Larder on the North side of the house, so as to be entirely sheltered from sunshine South and West, with windows all around, a ventilator at the top, floor of stone if dry—otherwise of wood, and overhanging roof. But in most instances the requirements may be sufficiently met without going beyond the limits of the house, and without even departing from the ordinary arrangement of contiguous square apartments, provided the principles of proper situation, aspect, and construction be duly regarded as above laid down.

Another idea which is of considerable value is that of forming a series of outbuilt Larders, with a Covered-way along the front, leading directly from the Kitchen or Scullery.

When a Larder has roof light and ventilation, great difficulty will be experienced in consequence, a sufficient circulation of air becoming almost impossible. Much may be done no doubt by artificial ventilation; but it is far better to rely upon the simple plan of a thorough draught by wall windows. Mere coolness, it must be remembered, is not sufficient without freshness.

The windows of a Larder are to be filled with wire gauze instead of glass, to admit light and air and exclude flies and dust. Any ventilator will of course be similar. A Dry-Larder, however, ought to have glazed casement’s inside, to be shut in severe weather. There may also be on a centre table a safe of wire gauze, 3 or 4 feet square, or more, for additional security from insects; or covers of that material may be used for the separate dishes.

The Fittings of a Dry-Larder consist of a broad dresser (without drawers) round three sides, and shelves in two or perhaps three tiers above it. These may be of slate or marble to promote coolness; the dresser, 2 1/2 or 3 feet wide, and the shelves 18 inches or 2 feet. In a large example there will be also a small centre table of similar material, leaving sufficient space to pass round it.

A Refrigerator may be placed here, probably as a moveable box, in one angle of the apartment. It will occupy on plan about 4 feet by 2 1/2 feet, or less. There will be deposited in it such small dishes as have to be cooled in ice before being served. In superior cases it will be an enclosure of larger size and 6 feet, high.

For use in winter there may be in the Larder a hat-water circulation from the Kitchen boiler, that the temperature may be kept above the freezing point.

If the ground be not damp, let the floor be of stone, with a drain for carrying off the water of cleansing. Vermin of every kind must be carefully excluded.

The size of a Dry-Larder may be from 8, 10, or 12 feet by 6, up to 15 feet square.


This, which is also called the Wet-larder, is the separate apartment provided for uncooked meats and other similar provisions. As respects size, arrangement, and general requirements, its principles have been laid down in the last chapter, while treating of the Larder generally. In small examples it is sometimes planned as an inner compartment accessible from the Kitchen through this Pantry; but such an arrangement, although convenient, is not advisable in superior cases.

In some better examples a Meat-Larder especially, for the sake of more complete ventilation, has been preferred in the detached form described in the last chapter; but in general this is not deemed necessary, an ordinary apartment within the walls being quite capable, if well placed, of being made in every way efficient.

In this Larder, if not in the kitchen, there will probably be fixed the balance for weighing. In Country-houses there may be a bacon-rack suspended from the ceiling; unless there be a separate Bacon-Store. More generally, bearers only will be required at the ceiling, with hooks sliding thereon for hanging joints, game, &c. Under this, if space admits, there will be a table.

A chopping-block is a proper fixture here; and there may possibly be a special place for salting-pans. A marble fish-slab may also be required. A small refrigerator or ice-box also may be placed here. A box-sink in a window-sill or dresser will likewise be convenient.

The dressers and shelving will be as described for the DryLarder; except that their being made of some such material as slate or marble becomes still more desirable.

Vegetables and fruit may sometimes be accommodated here; in a special compartment; although, generally speaking, the daily delivery of vegetables, whether by the gardener or the dealer, renders special accommodation unnecessary. Sometimes there may be two compartments to the Larder itself independently of this consideration,—an outer and an inner one,— the outer part accommodating what is most in request, and the inner being more particularly under lock and key.

For greater coolness the walls of this Larder (and indeed of others) may be lined, if thought fit, with glazed tiles; or any hard non-absorbent cement will answer the same purpose. The floor should certainly be paved.

Game And Fish Larders

The two chief Larders already described afford sufficient accommodation for moderate wants; but in some establishments these are not enough.

A Game Larder, in cases where game and poultry are largely used, becomes desirable for the same reason that the poulterer’s shop and the butcher’s are better two than one. The fixtures will consist of bearers and hooks overhead, in such number as may be required, and a slate or marble dresser at one end under a window or in the centre of the apartment. The general principles of the Meat-Larder, as already laid down, will of course still govern.

A Fish-larder is sometimes provided where the locality demands it, fitted up with a broad slate or marble table all round, and a few hooks above, with little else. In Town houses it is to be borne in mind that these Larders would be superfluous, because of the facilities of daily supply: indeed, the Larder accommodation as a whole becomes then of much less moment.


A Pastry-larder, Pastry-room, or Pastry, is especially useful in any considerable establishment. It will open out of either the Kitchen or Still-room, or be conveniently at hand; so as to be used for making the pastry and storing it, the baking being done in the Kitchen oven, or in that of the Still-room preferably if there be one. A dresser about 27 inches wide, of marble, or with at least 3 feet long of marble in the middle, is to be fixed under the light; and shelves all around the walls. The dresser being used for making the pastry, it may be filled underneath with deep drawers,for flour, sugar, and other materials. Sometimes a flour-box is formed at the one corner of the dresser (if long enough), with a hinged cover; and similarly a sink at the other. Particular dryness is essential here, and less cold is desirable than in other Larders; the floor therefore may be of wood, and also the wall-covering. The thorough draught by means of gauze in the windows is not needed if ventilation of the ordinary kind be complete. The oven ought to be readily accessible; sometimes there kis one (an iron one being always preferred for pastry) provided in special connexion, either in the apartment itself or in the Still-room.

In many cases where there is no separate Pastry-room, its purposes are very well served by means of a pastry-dresser in the Still-room, with the Pantry for storing. On the other hand, in very superior houses there may sometimes be required an amplified Pastry-room called the Confectionery, where the pastrycook conducts his part of the work. The principles are the same as before.

Salting-room, Smoking-house, And Bacon-larder

In a large Country House it may be that the salting of meat is occasionally done on so considerable a scale as to be decidedly objectionable in a proper Larder. A Salting-room may then be provided, either on the Ground-floor or in the Basement of the House, or better still amongst the Outbuildings. It ought to be as regards coolness and ventilation all that has been described for a Larder. The Fittings are chiefly a strong dresser for cutting up the meat, and the requisite number of trays of stone placed along the walls for placing it in pickle, some of these of sufficient size for a side of bacon, and others for various smaller pieces. Otherwise, part of this accommodation may be afforded by a shelf only, whereon to set moveable trays of earthenware. It is usual to attach waste-pipes to the fixed trays to carry the brine to a vessel beneath, at such place as may be convenient within the room, to be kept there for further use. A supply of water is essential, and a stone floor with a drain.

If a Smoking-house be added, it may be from 8 to 10 feet square, with several iron bearers across overhead on which to hang the meat. The fireplace, probably outside the chamber, has to be constructed for burning wood, sawdust, or peat; the smoke is led into the chamber itself, and allowed to escape only by small regulated luffer-frames in the roof.

It may be necessary also to provide a special depository by way of a Bacon-larder, which will be fitted up with a rack or shelves for bacon, and bearers with hooks for hams. Otherwise the Salting-room may serve this purpose also.

These Offices, by the bye, are amongst those which it is well, if possible, to remove altogether from the house,—to the Farm Buildings for example.

Dairy and Dairy-scullery

Under this head we need only describe such special accommodation as is required for properly domestic purposes, and not any sort of Farming Dairy, or even that pleasant plaything, a Fancy Dairy. It will be a small apartment not far from the Kitchen, similar generally to a Larder, perfectly cool and well ventilated for summer, and supplied with glass inner windows for cold weather. Heating-pipes may perhaps also be introduced; the object being to keep the temperature equable at all seasons, from 50 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. All vapours or odours of whatever kind ought to be most carefully excluded, except those of milk itself and fresh butter. The floor may be of stone or other like material, with drainage for copious cleansings; and there ought to be a cold-water tap for this purpose. The walls may be lined with tiles or non-absorbent plaster. The shelves, one tier all round, will be about 2 feet wide, of slate or stone, for portable milk-dishes. Otherwise there may be milk-trays formed as fixtures, with taps to draw off the contents; some are made occasionally with a hollow compartment around for containing water to keep them cool.

A Dairy-scullery may be placed adjoining, and will contain a copper or boiler, a dresser, and benches. The vessels are scalded here, and set up to dry; the operation of churning the butter is also here performed. The making of cheese need not be taken into account. If there be no Scullery of this kind, the cleansing ought to be done in the Kitchen-Scullery, and the churning in the Dairy.  It is always best, by the bye, that the Dairy itself should not have any door of intercommunication whatever,—even to its own Scullery, for instance, on account of the steam.

When the Dairy is on an extensive scale, it is much preferable to build it apart, either in connexion with the Farm Offices or as a little establishment by itself; the arrangements may be then considerably amplified, although the principles remain the same.

It has been already pointed out that the Cook’s Pantry is made to serve as Dairy in all ordinary cases.


Is Your Victorian Gentleman Sponge-Worthy? Contraception in the Years 1826 – 1891. Part II

This post is a continuation of Is Your Victorian Gentleman Sponge-Worthy? Contraception in the Years 1826 – 1891. If you haven’t already, you may want to read that post before continuing.

This week I received a copy of What is Love? Richard Carlile’s Philosophy of Sex by M.L. Bush.  In this book is the original text of Carlile’s small volume Every Woman’s Book published in 1826.

Carlile was a radical for his age, arguing that women should enjoy intercourse without the dread of pregnancy.  His book recommended the sponge method as described in my previous post. However, I did find a few interesting tidbits that I wanted to include as closure to the original post.  I am not interested in Carlile’s ideology; I merely examine his work as a writer trying to understand the everyday details of life in the nineteenth century.

Carlile stated that one tenth of the women in London were involved in prostitution. He didn’t substantiate that number.  This is interesting to me because I’ve found more statistical information on prostitution in the Victorian era than the late Regency.

Carlile writes, “The practice [the sponge] is common with the females of the more refined parts of the continent of Europe, and with those of the aristocracy of England. An English Duchess was lately instanced to the writer, who never goes out to a dinner without being prepared with a sponge. The French and Italian women wear them fastened to their waists, and always have them at hand.” Carlile claimed to know a gentleman who carried a sponge with him in the event that he needed it. Men could also obtain a condom called baudruche or the glove in brothels, from tavern waiters, or from women in places of “public resort, such as Westminster Hall, etc.”

In his essay “What is Love,” Carlile described the sponge as the size of a “green walnut” or “small apple.” It was tied to a string for easy removal. He advised wetting the sponge with water before inserting and then rinsing it out before the next use.

Carlile claimed that every English village annually had cases of women harming or killing themselves when they tried to destroy conceptions with such means as knitting needles and poisons such as “Ergot of Rye, Savine and violent purgatives.”  In her book, The Covent Garden Ladies:  Pimp General Jack & the Extraordinary Story of Harris’s List, Hallie Rubenhold states that eighteenth century prostitutes in London knew what herbs and powders to purchase from an apothecary to make douches or induce miscarriage. If those measures didn’t work, the city was teeming with surgeons and midwives willing to terminate a pregnancy.  One of the Harris’s List women is described as “pretty much affected” by the “rough medicines” she had ingested.

Carlile also thought that by advocating contraception he could reduce “the debauchery constantly going on among men and maid-servants, between servant-girls and their young masters, and even their old masters.” These lines remind me of a letter written by Lord Byron concerning his female servants that is published in A Country House Companion by Mark Girouard.  Byron writes, “I am plucking up my spirits and have begun to gather my little sensual comforts together. Lucy is extracted from Warwickshire; some very bad faces have been warned off the premises, and more promising substituted in their stead.” Lucy was a servant whom Byron impregnated.  He continues,  “As I am a great disciplinarian, I have just issued as edict for the abolition of caps; no hair to be cut on any pretext; stays permitted, but not too low before; full uniform always in the evening.  Lucinda will be commander…of all the maker and unmakers of beds in the household.”