The Modern Victorian Farm – Labourers’ Cottages

Daniel Ridgway Knight - Coffee in the garden

This is the last post (and my favorite) in my series on Victorian farms. This series is excerpted from The Farm Homesteads of England. Enjoy!

The cost of cottages necessarily depends on the amount of accommodation they afford, and the strength and substantiality of the structure itself.

The extent of accommodation which rural cottages should possess has recently been somewhat arbitrarily determined on sanitary grounds. The miserable hovels in which large families were crowded, and which still unfortunately exist, to the disgrace of our country, have called forth the indignation of all right-minded men, and we have been gradually led to conclude that no cottages are suitable unless they contain five rooms, of which three are bed-rooms, of prescribed dimensions, with minor offices. The principles upon which these dimensions of space have been determined are not very distinctly acknowledged, as will be seen by an examination of the views of different authorities and the regulations of different institutions. These show that the space considered necessary to maintain health in dwellings varies from 240 to 1500 cubic feet for each person.

Frederick Daniel Hardy - Baby's Birthday
Frederick Daniel Hardy – Baby’s Birthday

According to Dr. Arnott—perhaps the greatest authority on this subject as connected with ventilation—the actual quantity of air respired by an adult human being amounts to 300 cubic inches per minute—not quite one-sixth of a foot, or 240 cubic feet in the course of the day, while the total quantity of air, directly or indirectly vitiated during the same period, is 2880 cubic feet. Tredgold, however, states the amount of air respired by an individual to be as much as 800 cubic inches per minute, or nearly half a cubic foot, while the total quantity vitiated during 24 hours he considers to be at least 4320 cubic feet.

These figures are quoted to show the wide difference of opinion which has been expressed by high authorities on the vital point of respiration ; and if we examine the views practically carried out at our various national institutions in the space given to each person, we shall find parallel instances of diversity. For example, the space admitted to be sufficient by the police authorities under the Lodging-house Act is 240 cubic feet per person ; in the dormitories of the barracks of our army the quantity deemed sufficient has been 500 cubic feet, although the Commission on Warming and Ventilation to the General Board of Health urged that this space should be increased to 700 or 800 cubic feet per man. In hospitals, where obvious reasons exist for increased space, the amount varies from 1000 to 1500 cubic feet each person ; in the prisons 800 cubic feet seems to be the recognised space, and in the model lodging-houses about 550 cubic feet is given.

Charles Edouard Frère - Helping Hands
Charles Edouard Frère – Helping Hands

In spite of this prevailing diversity, experience clearly points to the adoption of the following dimensions of space for cottages :

The ventilation which will render these spaces sufficient is gained by having a fire-place and window in each room, with the door entering directly from the porch, passage, or stairs. Practically, all minute refinements in the art of ventilation are found inapplicable. In addition to these desiderata, each cottage should be provided with a pantry within the dwelling, commanding a free passage of air through it. The scullery, and not the living room, should have a copper and sink for washing, which should be a fixture; an oven is a desirable, but not an essential addition. The out-offices should consist of a small shed, for wood and coal ; a privy detached, with facility for emptying it; and an ash-pit, so connected with the privy that the ashes may be used to prevent effluvium. The whole premises should be perfectly drained. All the roof water should be preserved, and a supply of well-water should also be provided. The yard and walks (if any) should be paved or gravelled, so as to preserve cleanliness within the dwelling.


* According to the population returns of the Census of 1861, the number of individuals constituting families of the sizes mentioned below appears to be in the following proportion ; of course, as there are families of other sizes in the same district, these figures represent only those families specially selected to illustrate the point before us :

Population of the district

The late Duke of Bedford, in 1819, published, in the Journal of the Royal Agricultural Society of England, the designs and particulars of the several kinds of cottages he was erecting on his Bedfordshire and Devonshire estates. He had directed his surveyor to prepare plans of cottages, suitable for families of different sizes, singly and in blocks, and some most excellent designs will be found in the tenth volume of the Royal Agricultural Society’s Journal. The Editor has selected from them the plans on the [above] :-one showing a block of four cottages, in which two have two bed-rooms, and two three bed-rooms each ; the other showing a pair of cottages, in which each has a single bed-room.

James Collinson  - Answering the Emigrant's Letter
James Collinson – Answering the Emigrant’s Letter

On Sir Henry W. Dashwood’s estate, in Oxfordshire, may be seen some excellent cottages, which contain three bed-rooms, but one is placed on the groundfloor and two above; and scullery, pantry, &c., form a lean-to.

Captain Dashwood, under whose direction the cottages on the Kirtlington estate were erected, thus explains the advantages of the design : “ The downstair bedroom is adopted because it is found that a farm labourer, though requiring a third bed-room at one stage of his family’s growth, does not require it for any length of time, as his family are either very young, or as soon as able go out to service. The ground floor bed-room can, at such times, be used for a lodger ; or when the parents get old they can retire to this room and admit a married child, or even another couple, to help to pay the rent. The old woman, by looking after the children, enables the young wife to attend to work, and the old man can help to gain a living, by doing duties which frequently devolve on children, to the loss of their education.

The advantages of this plan are

First—That of enabling old and young people to reside under one roof, thereby securing nearly all the advantages of two cottages.

Second—It secures greater privacy from the position of the rooms, as the rooms are all distinct from each other, and the partition walls are constructed of brick, and not lath and plaster, as is the case with ordinary three-roomed cottages.

Third—It secures greater warmth and less draught ; and

Fourth—The third down-stairs room will be found available, if required, as a workshop, or as a bed-room, especially suitable for a crippled child or an aged parent.”

A modification of the same arrangement of sleeping rooms is shown by the following woodcut of a cottage designed by the Editor, in which the scullery forms a small covered yard, extending from the cottage to the outbuildings. The advantage of this arrangement is, that the yard and scullery being one, and under cover, the former is always dry, and the latter more spacious than under ordinary circumstances, whilst it is so constructed that it cannot be misappropriated as a living room.

Provision for married people without children, and for old couples whose children have left them, is a desideratum of importance; and the single bed-room cottage, erected by the Duke of Bedford, is a very good one for the purpose. But the plan suggested by Lady Caroline Kerrison is perhaps superior, inasmuch as the bed-rooms are all on the ground-floor, and are therefore more suitable for old people than bed-rooms upstairs.

Lady Kerrison’s plan is shown beneath.

Platt Powell Ryder - Fireside Companion
Platt Powell Ryder – Fireside Companion

With respect to the improvement and alteration of old cottages to meet the requirements of the present day, Lord Palmerston is of opinion that “it is not necessary to pull down old cottages to build new ones. A great deal can be done, at a moderate cost, in improving the old ones.” At Broadlands, his lordship has personally superintended the enlargement and alteration of his old cottages, so as to render them free from those objections which are so repugnant to good feeling. Sufficient bed-room accommodation, good drainage, and ventilation have been his primary objects, while the poor man’s comfort has been studied by the substitution of boarded for stone or brick floors, and by the provision of those little conveniences, such as cupboards and shelves, which we all know how to appreciate in our own houses. Without entering upon any details as to the cost of alterations and additions which may be made to existing cottages to render them conformable to present views, it is manifest that very much may be done with them at a less expense than by the erection of new cottages, an advantage which will enable landowners to adjust the rent in some measure to the circumstances of the labourers on their estates.

It is not here intended to discuss the question of wages. Theoretically it would be affirmed that the able-bodied man should be in receipt of such pay as will enable him to satisfy the just demands of his landlord : practically, however, it is not so ; and we must deal with the question as we find it. In the northern counties, the average weekly wages of able-bodied men, employed on farms, will be found to be 13s. 6d. ; in the midland counties they are 11s. ; and in the southern counties not quite 10s. Although there is a wide difference in the earnings of the labourers in different counties, in no instance is it possible for any labourer with a large family, by which the wife is disqualified from earning anything, to pay 3s6d. a week out of his wages for house rent.

George Hardy - The Leisure Hour
George Hardy – The Leisure Hour

The Modern Victorian Farm – Farmhouses

I’m continuing my series on Victorian farms. In this post, I’m excerpting sections from The Farm Homesteads of England containing farmhouse plans.

I had trouble finding illustrations or paintings for English farmhouses in the Victorian era (I’m sure I’ll stumble across a trove of Victorian farmhouse paintings just as soon as I press the Publish button), so I posted some works of home interiors by Mary Ellen Best (that’s her in the post’s featured image) and others.

Farm and farmhouse plan

The farmers of England have made a very rapid advance during the past thirty years, both in education and refinement; and the improvement might have been still more deep and extensive, had not the majority of landowners checked it by neglecting to raise the character of the farm houses. Education expands the desires and refines the taste; and if the landowner will have his estate well managed, he must obtain men of parts, who will not submit to occupy houses fit only for their labourers, but who require to be surrounded by those comforts of life to which their capital would introduce them were it employed either in commerce or trade. A superior tenantry implies superior house accommodation : intelligence and capital are ever found associated with a comfortable home. considerable number of the farmers of the present day have received a collegiate education ; it is no longer customary for the sons of the tenantry to herd with the children of their labourers at the village school, but they are sent from home, and return with the feelings and aspirations common to those who have received a respectable middle class training. This change in the habits of the tenantry certainly renders necessary some change in the home, rendering it suitable to their improved condition.

No Farm should be so small that it cannot support a house above the pretensions of a bailiff’s cottage. It is found better for both owners and tenants, as well as for the community at large, that where the tenure of land has been in small holdings, two or more should be thrown into one good farm; and one of the criteria is the test prescribed, namely, the capability of maintaining a farm house of the proper character.

Miss Crompton's Room.  Mary Ellen Best.
Miss Crompton’s Room. Mary Ellen Best.

I. For a Farm of 200 acres of dairy or mixed husbandry. The farm house should contain the following accommodation :

Ground Floor, Basement, and attached Outbuildings.—One or two sitting or ” living” rooms (in the latter case the second room will be used for an office); kitchen ; back kitchen or scullery ; pantry ; larder ; cellarage, and apple chamber ; dairy and dairy offices (see pages 174 to 177 inclusive) ; wood and coal houses, ash-pit, and privy :

And on the Upper or Chamber Floor, five bed-rooms.

Plan No 1, represents a farm house which may be taken as a specimen of this class. It was erected by the Editor for the Right Honourable the Viscount Palmerston, at Toothill Farm, near Romsey.

Plan No 1, represents a farm house which may be taken as a specimen of this class. It was erected by the Editor for the Right Honourable the Viscount Palmerston, at Toothill Farm, near Romsey.
General Norcliffe in his study at Langton Hall. Mary Ellen Best.
General Norcliffe in his study at Langton Hall. Mary Ellen Best.

II. For a Farm of 500 acres, of tillage or mixed husbandry, the following house accommodation would be required :

Ground Floor, Basement, and attached Outbuildings.—Parlour ; “living ” room; store-room ; kitchen ; back kitchen or scullery; pantry ; larder ; cellarage, and apple chamber ; dairy offices ; brewhouse ; wood and coal houses, ash-pit, and privy.

On the Upper or Chamber Floor.—Six bed-rooms of larger size, to include one spare room ; linen closet; and water-closet.

PLAN No. 2.—The specimen of this class of farm house was designed by Mr. John Hawkins, of Hitchin, for William Alexander Dashwood, Esq., at Little Almshoe. It was built in the year 1855, by Mr. J. Jeeves, and is attached to a farm of only 350 acres, though fitted for a farm of larger area.

of Hitchin, for William Alexander Dashwood, Esq., at Little Almshoe, near Hitchin, Herts. It was built in the year 1855, by Mr. J. Jeeves, and is attached to a farm of only 350 acres, though fitted for a farm of larger area.
Drawing Room, Guys Cliffe, Warwickshire.
Drawing Room, Guys Cliffe, Warwickshire.

III. For a Farm of 1000 acres, of tillage or mixed husbandry, the arrangements for the farm house should be as follow :-

Ground Floor, Basement, and attached Outbuildings.-Parlour, sitting-room, and office ; store-room ; china closet and water-closet ; kitchen ; back kitchen or scullery; pantry and larder ; cellarage, and apple chamber ; dairy offices ; brewhouse, bake­ house, wood and coal houses, ash-pit, and privy.

Upper or Chamber Floor.-Seven bed-rooms of superior character, including two spare rooms, one dressing room ; a linen closet, and water-closet.

Plan No. 3.—An example of this class of farm house is given in the following drawing, representing a house near Wisbeach, erected by Mr. John Beasley, of Chapel Brampton, Northampton, for the Right Honourable the Lord Overstone, in the year 1860.

Plan No. 3.—An example of this class of farm house is given in the following drawing, representing a house near Wisbeach, erected by Mr. John Beasley, of Chapel Brampton, Northampton, for the Right Honourable the Lord Overstone, in the year 1860.
A farm house for a mixed farm of 500 acres, erected by the Earl Spencer, at Boddington, Northamptonshire

PLATE 66.-A farm house for a mixed farm of 500 acres, erected by the Earl Spencer, at Boddington, Northamptonshire. It was designed by Mr. John Beasley, of Chapel Brampton, Northampton. It is built of stone, not highly dressed, and is roofed with Welsh slates, the work being executed by estate workmen, at a cost, exclusive of the carriage of materials, of 900l.

The farm house, erected by the Right Honourable the Earl Powis, at Styche, Shropshire, is for a dairy farm of 400 acres. The house was built by contract, in the year 1863, from designs furnished by Messrs. Burd of Shrewsbury. It is constructed of brick, and is roofed with Welsh slates, and was completed at a cost of 13801., including the carriage of materials.

A farm house, or bailiff's house, on a home farm of 227 acres, erected by Matthew Bell, Esq., at Lenhall Farm, near Canterbury, Kent, designed by the Editor.

PLATE 67.—A farm house, or bailiff’s house, on a home farm of 227 acres, erected by Matthew Bell, Esq., at Lenhall Farm, near Canterbury, Kent, designed by the Editor. It was built by contract, in 1861, of bricks and Welsh slate, at a total cost, including the carriage of materials, of 898l. 11s., the bricks being made by the proprietor, and supplied by him to the contractor at 20s. per thousand.

The farm house, erected by W. Hans Sloane Stanley, Esq., at Rollestone, near Southampton, Hampshire, and designed by Mr. F. Eggar, Romsey, is for a mixed farm of 294 acres. The house was built by contract, in 1862, of bricks and Welsh slates, at a total cost, including carriage of materials, of 1266l. 9s. 3d.

Drawing Room.
Drawing Room

To justify the conveniences above enumerated, it should be borne in mind that the capital employed by the tenants of the several sized farms specified should amount to 2500l. for 200 acres of land, 5250l. for 500 acres, and 10,000l. for 1000 acres ; sums which, if employed in trade or commerce, would afford even greater accommodation.

There is one rule that should be arbitrarily adhered to in the erection of farm houses ; this is, that the rooms generally occupied should look at once into the homestead. The kitchen and back offices, also, should be so arranged that the means of communication between them, the cow-house, piggery, and poultry-houses should be easy and convenient.

A very complete arrangement of farm house and connecting out-offices, which illustrates this remark, is shown in the drawing beneath. It was designed by Mr. W. H. Rice, architect, and was erected at Cartuther, Cornwall.

A very complete arrangement of farm house and connecting out-offices.

The treatment of this part of the subject is necessarily of a general nature. There is only one instance in which it assumes a special character, and this is where the farmer uses a certain portion of the house for conducting an important branch of his business, as in the dairy districts. The accommodation required for the manufacture of cheese and butter, &c., will be found specially set forth in the Digest.

Ford Farm
Ground Plan of Ford Farm
Bemerton Farm
Broxton Farm
An Interior. Mary Ellen Best.
An Interior. Mary Ellen Best.

The Modern Victorian Farm

Join me on my merry adventures in researching Victorian farms. For the next three posts, I’ve excerpted from The Farm Homesteads of England: A Collection of Plans of English Homesteads Existing in Different Parts of the Country, Carefully Selected from the Most Approved Specimens of Farm Architecture, to Illustrate the Accommodation Required Under Various Modes of Husbandry, with a Digest of the Leading Principles Recognised in the Construction and Arrangement of the Buildings. This book was published in 1865 and includes blueprints (pictures! pictures!) of farmyards, farmhouses, and laborer’s cottages. Great geeky historical fun.

The Woodhouse Farm

This Farm the property of the Ecclesiastical Commissioners of England and Wales is distant about two miles from the city of Ely. It is in the occupation of the executors of the late Mr. Allden. The rainfall of the district in inches is 21.95.

Description of the Homestead.—This Homestead was erected in the years 1861 and 1862, from designs by Mr. R. Wright, of Norwich, at a cost of about £2800, exclusive of the carriage of materials and the formation of roads and approaches. Mr. Freeman, of Ely, was the builder. It is occupied in conjunction with a set of outlying old Buildings. The Yards, Sheds, and Stalls of the new Buildings were designed for the accommodation of 100 head of cattle, of different ages; but the practice has been to feed only 50 large beasts in them, of which 20 are tied up and fatted with roots, chaff, and cake in the stalls, and the remaining 30 run loose in the yards. When the stalled beasts are considered fat they are sold, and their places are filled up by the best beasts from the yards.

From 50 to 70 head of growing stock are kept during the winter at the outlying Buildings. These are grazed during the summer upon about 60 acres of low meadow land, or “washes,” which do not belong to the Farm, but form a separate hiring, on which the beasts remain from May to Michaelmas, when they are removed to the highland pasture, and there fed with hay, early turnips, and sometimes with 2 or 3 lbs. of cake each. They are then put into the stalls or yards, and prepared for market as before stated.

Woodhouse Farm

There is Stabling for about 35 working horses and 8 saddle or harness horses; besides a Hospital.

 The Buildings were designed with a view of employing a fixed 10 horse power steam engine; but up to this time a portable engine has been adopted by the tenants to work their chaff and turnip cutter, corn and cake crushers, and other machinery.

The thrashing floor, in the central portion of the Barn, is paved with York flags and the two ends are boarded.

The Piggeries, and the cake and root stores, are paved with bricks but an alteration to asphalte is in contemplation as preferable.

The Granary occupies the upper story of the west end of the barn and is supported on iron columns. In it a crane is fixed by which the corn is raised in sacks from the floor beneath.

A Liquid manure tank is sunk in the pig yard, and the manure is pumped thence and distributed over the grass land by means of an iron cart.

The Water from the roofs is preserved in a tank to which a large force pump is attached to raise it into a cistern fixed on the tie beams of a shed, whence it is carried by means of pipes to the Buildings. The supply thus obtained is found sufficient.

Woodhouse Farm

Description of the Farm.—The Farm consists of 980 acres of which 170 are meadow and pasture land and the remaining 810 are arable. The arable land is of two sorts highland (so called in contradistinction to the fen land), of which there are 270 acres, and fen land amounting to 540 acres. The highland is a good arable loam, with a subsoil of boulder clay; and it is cultivated in a five-course rotation, which though somewhat varying with circumstance may be quoted as follows: 1st turnips and mangolds; 2nd oats, wheat ,and barley; 3rd, clover, peas and beans; 4th wheat; 5th, oats, beans, and barley. The fen land is a black vegetable soil, resting on a soft blue clay. This land is drained, and the water raised by a private steam-engine of 20 horse power, and a water wheel of a kind common in the Fens. Upon this description of soil the rotation generally adopted is as follows: 1st year, coleworts, mangolds, and kohl rabi; 2nd, oats, and barley; 3rd, wheat; 4th, clover, beans, and mustard; 5th, wheat.  Of the roots grown on the fallows, two thirds are consumed on the land, and the remaining one third is taken to the store beasts at the Buildings.

 About 300 half-bred ewes form the breeding flock the lambs are sold as soon as they are weaned. Up to Christmas the ewes are kept on the turnips, and subsequently on the kohl rabi in the day, and in the fold-yard on hay and straw chaff at night. In addition to an ewe flock, from 300 to 400 hoggets are bought in April, and fattened on the seeds, with cake. The latter are sold off as they become fat, and others are bought to fill their place until the clover hay is consumed; the whole are disposed of by the end of March.

Sanction Hill Farm

This Farm belongs to its present occupier, John Wells, Esq., of Booth Ferry House, Howden. It is situated on the sides of a deep and narrow valley in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The average annual rainfall of the district is in inches 23.12.

Sanction Hill Farm

Description of the Homestead.—These Buildings were erected from the designs of Mr. Wells, during the years 1860, 1861, and 1862. By lengthening the period of operation, the haulage of materials and the levelling of the site were performed at such seasons as did not interfere with the regular working of the farm. The Cost of the Buildings in their completed state, including the Farm-house and Labourers’ cottages, was nearly £3900. This outlay, inclusive of the levellings and of the cartage of materials, was increased by the difficulties of the site, which involved more than ordinary labour in excavating and raising the ground to secure a level base.

The Buildings are of brick, and are slated; the bricks being made upon the estate in “force fire kilns” at a cost of fourteen shillings per thousand.

The present Stables accommodate 12 draught and 2 riding horses ; and there are, besides, 6 Loose-Boxes.

Accommodation, independent of the large Fold-Yard on the West, is provided for 40 head of cattle of different ages, and for 20 pigs.

Four cows only are kept, which are fed at the head, from a passage communicating with the root-house.

The principal Barn is divided into two compartments or floors. On the lower one are fixed a thrashing-machine and circular saw, both being driven by the shaft which drives the pulper in the adjoining root-house. The upper compartment, 18 feet high, has its floor on a level with the stack-yard, which occupies the higher ground, at the north side of the Homestead. From thence the stacks are brought by means of a tramway to the thrashing-machine, the top of which is raised about 2 feet above the floor level. As the corn is thrashed the straw is delivered into the adjoining Straw-barn, and the grain to the respective wheat and horse-corn Granaries, situated on either side. In the latter, stones and mills are fixed for bruising corn and crushing cake.

Mr. Wells writes :—“The corn, when thrashed, is raised, dressed, and deposited in either of these granaries by means of spouts and screw propellers, so that whatever description of corn is thrashed, it finds its way into the proper place without manual labour.”

In the Chaff-cutting room is fixed the chaff-cutter, driven by a separate shaft; and as the straw and hay are cut, the chaff falls into a room below, where the food is mixed and taken to the cattle without passing through the fold-yards.

The Fold-Yards are sloped, the centre of each being 6 feet below the thresholds of the doors, and covered with a layer of chalk 1 foot thick, well rammed down.

The Floors of the Buildings which contain cattle are paved with Bradford stonesetts, laid in pitch ; those of the barn, straw-shed, mill and cutting-houses, and passages, are of asphalte blocks, 18 inches square by 2 ½ inches thick.

Jules Bastien-Lepage  (1848–1884)
Jules Bastien-Lepage 

The Rain-water from the House and Buildings, which are spouted, is conducted to iron tanks, containing about 6500 gallons. Overflow pipes are provided to convey the surplus water from these into two large underground cisterns, one containing 13,000 gallons to supply the engine which pumps its own water, the other containing 10,000 gallons, which supplies the house. There are also two circular ponds, 30 yards in diameter, which are supplied by rain-water from the hills. In the Wolds a sufficient supply of water is a great desideratum, and these arrangements have never failed as yet to secure all that has been needed. The Drainage of the Homestead is thorough; each stable is provided with an iron cess-pit, which, in connection with the drains of the yards, empties itself into one large tank in the carpenter’s yard.

Ventilation is procured by the ordinary “ventilators” in the ridges of the roof, and by several swivel-windows placed over the heads of the animals, 12 feet apart.

Such walls as are only 9 inches thick received two coats of plaster, and the whole of the inside of the Buildings is whitewashed.

No paint is used to the woodwork. It is all stained with umber, and fixed with cold boiled linseed oil and varnish.

Sanction Hill Farm

Description of the Farm.—This Farm contains about 350 acres. It was formerly in two holdings, the old homesteads attached to which, according to the custom of the Yorkshire Wolds district, were situated in the village.

The improvements in cultivation which have signalised this district, especially the growth of turnips, have rendered it essential to complete success that the Buildings should be placed as near the centre of the farm as possible, and Mr. Wells has adopted this principle in selecting the site of the present Homestead.

The land is of a light loamy character, the surface soil for the most part varying in depth from 6 to 18 inches. The whole overlies the chalk, and when the superstratum is of considerable depth, it is usual to bring up the chalk from below, and spread it about the land at the rate of from 100 to 150 loads per acre.

Mr. Wells is a land-agent of considerable experience and wide practice, and farms nearly 1000 acres of land in addition to his own, which is here described.

Tattenhall Hall Farm

Tattenhall Hall Farm in the county of Chester, is the property of Robert Barbour, Esq., and is occupied by Mr. George Jackson. The average annual rainfall of the district is about 33 inches

Description of the Farm.—The Buildings were erected in the year 1860. Exclusive of House and Piggeries, the haulage of materials, the formation of roads, and the making of the necessary approaches they cost 1600l. This sum does not include a small portion of old materials used in them. The arrangements were designed by the tenant; Mr. J. Harrison, of Chester, acting as architect.

Tattenhall Hall Farm

The dairy cows, 80 in number, occupy the principal building (the Cow-house), in close proximity with which are the Food-chambers, Machinery, and Barn. The cows are placed on each side a central feeding passage, along which the cut food is carried by a truck to the troughs ; while a constant stream of water passes along the two lines of stalls, and furnishes each with an ever fresh supply. The central portion of this large building is higher than the two ends, and contains a lay-loft, into which hay is brought direct from the field, and there stored. Ventilation is gained by an air-shaft, in the shape of a centre cupola, and by side openings.

There is accommodation for 14 calves, and 12 store stock, in addition to the dairy stock.

Stabling is provided for 9 working horses, besides which there is a Nag-stable with three stalls, a Loose-box, and a Hospital for cows.

The Piggeries, which are supplied with whey by means of a pipe-drain direct from the Dairy, are fitted up for about 50 breeding, store, and fatting pigs, and are very complete.

The Machinery consists of a portable steam-engine, with a thrashing apparatus; also a small 6-inch cylinder fixed steam-engine, which drives a chaff-cutter placed in the straw dépôt, and a root-cutter and cleaner in the room below. The latter is supplied by the engine-boy from the adjacent store, and the roots, when cut, are taken by elevators and mixed with the chaff; the whole being sprinkled with hot water, or oil-cake gruel, as it descends to a chamber, the floor of which is perforated, in order to allow the waste steam from the engine to ascend and sweeten the mass. The cows are kept on this steamed food throughout the winter; as spring approaches an addition of oil-cake, bean-meal, and a little chopped seeds and clover, is made to it.

Jules Bastien-Lepage  (1848–1884) 
Hay Making
Jules Bastien-Lepage 
Hay Making

The milk, when brought from the Cow-house, is collected into two cheese-tubs, or vats, placed on the kitchen floor, and capable of containing 240 gallons. Each tub is provided with a 3-inch plug, and a strainer guards the opening through which the whey, when separated from the curd, passes into one of four slate cisterns. When all the cream has been removed from the whey, a valve is raised, which allows of the escape of the refuse whey into any or all of the pig-troughs, a little meal from the corn-flour bin being added to it. The curd, when separated, is passed through the curd mill. It is then salted, vatted, pressed into the proper cheese shapes, and elevated into the cheese drying room, and after four months’ detention, the cheeses are lowered by the same contrivance, and sent to the London market.

The buildings are drained into two large Liquid-manure tanks, the contents of which serve to irrigate about 14 acres of meadow land.

The Rain-water and the wash of the house is conducted to suitable reservoirs, and is made to flow over a small meadow at pleasure.

The Buildings are supplied with water from a pond, which receives the drainage water from about 15 acres of land.

The corn crops are well housed in Skeleton Barns having clay floors, the crops being preserved from contact with the clay, by means of an intervening layer of brushwood.

In addition to this Homestead, which has the disadvantage of not being at the centre of the holding, 24 cow-stalls, a food house, and labourer’s cottage, have been erected at a distant part of the farm. At this Steading the barren cows are fatted and the calves are kept, the latter being supplied with roots and fodder. By this means much cartage is saved, and manure is made where it is wanted.

Description of the Farm.—The Farm consists of about 320 acres, of which about 100 are arable, the rest being pasture and mcadow. The land consists mostly of clay, resting on a substratum of New Red Sandstone.

The arable land is cultivated partly on a five-course, and partly on a four-course system.

All the land requiring drainage has been drained, partly by the landlord, partly by the tenant.

During the present tenancy many old fences have been levelled, and about six miles of new and straight quick hedges have been planted ; by which means, and by filling useless pits, the productive area of the farm has been increased by more than 12 acres. Eighteen or twenty acres of swedes or mangolds are annually grown, and carried from the fields-part to the home, and part to the outlying farmstead.

A flock of 200 sheep is usually kept.

Below are some plans from the book. Click on one to enlarge and scroll through the other images.

Jules Bastien-Lepage 
The Grape Harvest
Jules Bastien-Lepage 
The Grape Harvest

If domestic life in rural Victorian England is your passion, then I highly recommend the BBC series, The Victorian Farm. (But you’ve probably already seen it if you’re on my blog.) Much of the information in that series comes from Henry Stephens’ The Book of the Farm.

A Victorian Country Inn

One of my favorite activities as a writer is to visualize the space my characters move about in.  Naturally I was thrilled when I ran across An Encyclopedia of Cottage, Farm, and Villa Architecture and Furniture; containing numerous designs for dwelling from the cottage to the villa, including farm houses, farmeries, and other agricultural buildings; several designs for country inns, public houses, and parochial schools; with the requisite fittings-up, fixtures, and furniture; and appropriate offices, gardens, and garden scenery; each design accompanied by analytical and critical remarks, illustrative of the principles of architectural science and taste on which it is composed, by John Claudius Loudon.  The volume I’m excerpting was published in 1839 but earlier editions exist.

Let’s start with a country inn:

A complete Country Inn may be considered with reference to its accommodation, arrangement, or distribution, its situation and architectural style. The accommodation includes that of the house, of the stable offices, and of the gardens and grounds.

The Accommodation of the house, we have already said, is essentially that of a private house, with the housekeeper’s room, or bar, placed in a conspicuous situation, instead of in a private one; and with the store-room and larder also exposed to public view. The inn contains an entrance hall, in which there ought always to be a porter to announce the arrival of guests, by ringing one bell for the hostler, and another for the waiter; an ante-room or strangers’ room, into which the guests are first shown, and where they are waited on by the master, mistress, or some upper servant, to ascertain the kind of accommodation which they desire. A complete inn ought to have large rooms for parties to dine in on public occasions, or in which may be held public meetings, assemblies, balls, &C. : it ought also to have suites of apartments, consisting of one or two sitting-rooms, one or two bed-rooms, a maid-servant’s or nurse’s room, and a water-closet; such suites of apartments being frequently required in first-rate Inns, by wealthy families who travel with their own carriages and horses, and who wish to live at an inn as privately as if they were at home. There ought also to be suites of apartments for single persons, consisting of a bed-room and sitting-room each. There ought to be small dining-rooms for small parties to dine together; and numerous bed-rooms, some with dressing-rooms, and some without them. In a large inn, there ought to be also a billiard-room for exercise and amusement during bad weather and long evenings; and also one or more musical instruments; and in every inn, whether large or small, there ought to be a library of books; which may be put under the care of the bar-woman, and lent out to guests at a small sum per volume. Among the conveniences, there should be hot, cold, saline, vapour, and air baths.

The Bar or Office of an Inn being its characteristic feature, it is proper that it should be shortly described: its situation ought to be central in the interior of large buildings, commanding views of the front entrance hall and back entrance; and, as far as practicable, of the foot of the principal staircase, and along the principal passages. These objects can only be obtained by having the room of some size, almost insulated by broad passages, and with windows on all sides; or having the sides formed by glazed partitions. Considerable assistance might be afforded to the bar-woman, to enable her to see in every direction, by looking-glasses, judiciously disposed without and within the bar, as these would reflect places and persons which could not otherwise be seen. The situation of the bar, in a narrow building, may be at the end of the entrance-hall, with one side looking towards it, and the one opposite looking towards the yard. In size, the bar need never be large; because, though, in small public houses and inns, it is used as a shop or store-room, as well as an office, yet, in general, it is used in the latter capacity only. Here the books of the inn are kept, and orders given to the cook, the keeper of the cellar, the ostler, or the stable-yard keeper; and here also all monies are given in, which have been received by the different servants or waiters. Adjoining the bar there is usually the private room of the master and mistress of the house; and the larder and general store-room are commonly near, and within sight of it.

The Accommodation of the Stable-court ought to be proportionate to that of the house. In a conspicuous situation, at the entrance to the court, there ought to be the office of the superintendent of this department, which should command a view of the interior of the stable-yard; and also, if possible, be seen from, and look to, a window in the bar-room. In very extensive country inns, the stable-yard should be a distinct part of the establishment from the farm yard, for obvious reasons; but in small establishments they may often be combined, the cattle-courts being altogether separated from the courts for post horses, travellers’ horses, and carriages. The principal buildings in the stable yard of an inn are the stables, coach-houses, and houses for corn and fodder. There ought also to be an ample harness-room, a room for boiling or steaming food for sick horses, an hospital, a shoeing-house or smithy, and a wheelwright’s shop, or place for repairing carriages. There are other minor accommodations which will readily occur. In all large establishments there ought to be a riding-house; and the business of a riding master might be very well combined with that of innkeeper.

The Accommodations in the Grounds are first and principally a dairy, a poultry house, and an ice bouse; there ought also to be a complete farmery; a kitchen-garden, with forcing-houses; an orchard or a vineyard, according to the climate; and a large park for guests to take exercise in on horseback or in carriages, and for a herd of deer, as well as other animals for profit and pleasure, including what is called game. Near the house there ought to be lawns and pleasure-grounds for pedestrian exercise.

In Public Houses, or Inns of an inferior Description, all these accommodations must necessarily be very limited: the park may be dispensed with; the farmery included in the stable-court; and the pleasure-ground limited to a bowling-green, tea-gardens, and place for playing at skittles or other games.

The Situation of an Inn, or Public House, for ordinary purposes, should in general either be on or near a public road, or on the margin of a canal or river; but the particular points along roads or other lines for public conveyances on which inns should be placed are subjects which require some consideration, especially in new countries, where most people travel in stages or coaches, which stop for refreshment only at certain distances. The great object ought to be, so to arrange the stopping places, as that the inns may always be built in dry healthy situations, with extensive and agreeable prospects; we say extensive, because one object, with all travellers, is, to form some general idea of the country through which they pass. With respect to inns of recreation, it is obvious, that to place them on any other spot than one of great natural beauty can never be a voluntary act; since situation and accompaniments, much more than the plan of the dwelling, will naturally be the principal inducements to guests. Under inns of this sort, we of course include those of watering-places, baths, springs, fishing and shooting stations, and various others, which it would lead us beyond our proposed limits to describe.

A Country Inn in the Italian Style; having, besides public rooms, Thirty Bedrooms, and Stabling for Twenty Horses.



Accommodation. The general appearance is shown in fig. 1295; and the ground floor, fig. 1298, consists of an entrance porch, a; vestibule and staircase, b; two parlours, c; passage, d, to the garden, x; store-room, e; bar, f; family sitting-room, g; back parlour, h; back stairs, i; water-closet, k; tap-room, l ; kitchen, with oven and hot water boiler, m; back-kitchen and scullery, n; coal-house, o; larder and pantry, p ; dust-hole, q; boot-closet, r ; covered yard for gigs, chaises, &c., sstables, t t; coach house, u; privies for servants, v v; stable-yard, w; garden, x; veranda for skittles, y; and liquid manure tank, z. The chamber-floor, fig. 1296, has two sitting-rooms, a a; and a large room for balls, or public meetings, b; the ceiling of this last room is on a level with the ceilings of the rooms of the attic story, and is marked, in fig. 1297, by the same letters. All the other rooms in the chamber-floor and attic story, figs. 1296 and 1297 (thirty in number), are sleeping-apartments.

Construction. The walls are supposed to be of brick, and the roof covered with Peake’s Italian tiles, such as are shown in § 50 or in § 1368 ; the eaves being supported by wrought cantalivers. To render the bed-rooms fire-proof, the joists may be covered with plain tiles bedded in Roman cement, and having a coating over them of the same material; the tiles and cement being closely joined to the brickwork of the walls, and the skirting being formed of stucco or cement. The floors, after being made a year or more, may be washed over with oil, and painted either a plain colour or an imitation of any particular kind of wood, marble, or stone. The ceilings may be formed in the same manner. The staircases may be of cast-iron, the treads being covered with stone plates. The garden, x, is shown with a circular grass-plot in the centre, and a border of evergreen and deciduous shrubs and flowers next the walls. The kitchen-garden and farm are not seen in this plan.

General Estimate- The cubic contents of this building are 201,908 feet; which, at 5d. per foot, is £4203 : 8s.: Ad., the probable cost of an edifice in this style, plainly finished, in the neighbourhood of London.

Remarks. The ground plan of this Design was contributed by Mr. Taylor, and the elevation has been supplied by Mr. Robertson. The inn seems well adapted for country business; having large rooms for meetings, a spacious covered yard for the protection of carriages of every description, and abundance of stabling. A large kitchen garden will be required for such an establishment, unless there be a market-garden close at hand.


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.

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