We’ve all seen the jolly life that people lead in programs like Upstairs, Downstairs and more recently Downton Abbey. Have you ever stopped to wonder what life was like for the servants such as the scullery maid working in the Downstairs part? At the lowest level they were little more than drudges treated with about as much respect as a slave, if they were even noticed at all. The role was open to a huge amount of abuse not only by their aristocrat masters who considered but also by those slightly higher up the food chain such as the head cook or the Head butler. Most of them had been where the Scullery maid was at some point and had had to pay their dues. What was the duties and life like for them?
Most Victorian and Edwardian grand houses had a huge kitchen range made of wrought iron. It was the Scullery maid’s job to keep it clean. At least you don’t have to worry about that if your oven needs a clean as the good people at Oven cleaning Yeovil business, https://www.baytreeovencleaning.com/ could help. There was no such help for the Scullery Maid. They were very young girls, some as old as 9 and this was to be their life, in service unless they could rise to the levels of the Cook or House keeper. They were the first up at 5 and the last to bed at 11pm not allowed to eat their meals with the main staff as they had to maintain the cooking food. They did not get breaks, there was little if any employment rights for them and if they complained they were dismissed. As this represented an income to their household this was unthinkable. So they had to put up with the back breaking work and the abuse.
They had to clean the kitchen steps and make the work side’s gleam. They prepared the vegetables and generally fetched and carried as the harridan cook screamed instructions and insults at them in equal measure. They would prepare the dough and light the fires for baking, woe betide them if they did not.
Why did they put up with it for a pittance of a wage? As we’ve said before it was a wage and it was inside. The alternatives were back breaking farm work, the poor house, a factory or mill. There was a chance that if they paid their dues they might be able to be promoted to Kitchen Maid and then Cook but this was a long hard road. This was a bleak time for these women regardless of what nostalgic TV shows tell you.