Victorian London - Professions and Trades - Service Industry - Servants - Accommodation

    As regards the servant's bed, have an iron bedstead, with cross-bands, or laths of iron, a bolster, and two mattrasses, both of wool, and inexpensive; but allow a feather pillow, three white blankets, and a coloured on for counterpane. The sheets should be of unbleached cotton, not thick, but tolerably wide, and two yards and a-half long and as these should be changed every fortnight, it will be necessary to have six sheets. At the time of changing the sheets, the mattrasses should be taken out of doors, placed on a cloth or old sheet on the ground, and be well beaten and aired in the sun. The bedstead should be brushed and dusted, and the floor be washed with salt and water Unless a mistress sees that this is done, and that the blankets are well shaken, no directions will avail. The salt and water, as you know, is to prevent or kill insects of all kinds. You should have no bed-hangings in a servant's room, but the bed must be placed out of all draught from window, door, or chimney. Remember to be careful of a servant's health and comfort; but indulgence is not apt to improve her health, temper, or manners. It is a wicked maxim that "anything will do for servants", and equally unwise to pamper foibles, or give too much liberty or licence of speech.

The Ladies Treasury, 1867


The ceilings of all servants' room should be whitewashed once a year and the walls colour-washed, unless they are papered with washable sanitary paper. The floor should simply have dhurries laid down by each bed and by the washing-stands, etc.
   Each servant should have a separate bed if possible, and that bed should be as comfortable as can be, without being unduly luxurious.
    I should like myself to give each maid a really pretty room, but at present they are a little hopeless on the subject. No sooner is the room put nice than something happens to destroy the beauty, and I really believe servants are only happy if their rooms are allowed in some measure to resemble the homes of their youth, and to be merely places where they lie down to sleep as heavily as they can.
    The simpler, therefore, a servant's room is furnished, the better. A cupboard of some kind should be provided where they can hang up their dresses. But if this is impossible, a few hooks must supplement the chest of drawers, washing-stand, bedchair, and toilet-table with glass, which is all that is required in the room of a maid-servant. 
    The sheets should be changed once in three weeks, also the pillow-cases, while three towels to each maid a week are none too much to allow them to use, if you wish them to be clean.

Mrs. J.E.Panton, From Kitchen to Garret (7th ed.), 1890 pp.151-2