Saturday, May 11, 2019

How well were servants paid? How did they live? And why can't they fall in love with their employers?

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 The Regency period imparted very strict social rules on the different classes. Mixing was not done. Social ostracism for those who reached down...or those who reached too far up, was the result. But in many cases, the relationships survived. In the case, for example of one of Victoria's uncles who married a Catholic lady. beneath his station, he survived. And with Victoria's help, the lady was finally received at court. Such reception also helped Prince Albert be received as the superior he was.

The greater problems for servants were a general lack of education and lack of training in the finite terms of etiquette and polite discourse. As Winston Churchill once said, and I paraphrase, the art of conversation is what he cultivated when he had tea with his mother. (She, by the way, was American heiress Jenny, Lady Randolph Churchill.)

Servants led very regimented lives, dictated by the hard work they did. Maids slept in cubby holes in the kitchen or upstairs in the cold rafters. Footmen could find themselves having to bed down on the hard cold kitchen tiles. Baths were sponge baths. The privy was in the central yard and often, none to private!

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Wages were particularly poor. Why? Because general guidelines published for heads of households declared that wages and number of servants should be deterimined by general income. That does not seem out of line with our current thinking about cost control. But when you learn that they recommended a certain number of servants for a special income, you see that the rule of thumb was to hire many servants and pay as little as possible. See my list here!
I hope you will enjoy all 3 of my DELIGHTFUL DOINGS IN DUDLEY CRESCENT and learn how a few servants managed to fall in love with aristocrats...and their love survived the social rules!