Kensington Gardens in the 1700 and 1800s

Map of Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park. Public domain.

Kensington Gardens sits west of Hyde Park, which it once adjoined. Kensington Gardens were created when they were cut off from Hyde Park by George II’s wife, Queen Caroline, in 1728. Henry Wise and Charles Bridgeman were tasked with the job of creating the gardens. Bridgeman created the recreational lake known as the Serpentine between 1726 and 1731 by damning Hyde Park’s River Westbourne on the eastern outflow. Queen Caroline enclosed Kensington Gardens by using the West Carriage Drive (The Ring) and the Serpentine Bridge to form a boundary between the two. Kensington Gardens consists of 270 acres, but at one time, Kensington Palace was surrounded by 30 acres of private gardens and shaded by fine old trees. Continue reading

Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks

Mrs. Salmon's Waxworks, Public Domain
Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks, Public Domain

Before the famous Madame Tussaud’s there was Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks that was owned and operated by Mr. and Mrs. Salmon. Mrs. Salmon made and sold toys — Dutch, English, and French — and was said to be highly eccentric, even sleeping in a burial shroud. Mrs. Salmon’s also had modelling skills and used them to create life-sized dolls that resembled living people. Her waxworks became an instant hit and were publicized in the Tatler of 1710 and mentioned several times in the Spectator.

Mrs. Salmon’s Waxworks’ were also distinguished by the sign of a salmon. Addison noted, “It would have been ridiculous for the ingenious Mrs. Salmon to have lived at the sign of the Trout, for which reason she erected before her house the figure of fish that is her namesake.” Mrs. Salmon, who later became Mrs. Steers, ran the business until she died in 1760, at which time a man named Clark purchased the business and when he died it went to his widow. Continue reading

What are Stables and Other Similar Associated Buildings?

Stables Built in 1802, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Stables Built in 1802, Courtesy of Wikipedia

By the 1800s, in the city, most houses were devoid of stables, whereas most country homes were equipped with one. Stables offered lodging for horses, protected them from the elements, and provided them with a ready food and water supply. Stables could also be detached or attached to a house depending on an owner’s preference, and they came in a variety of sizes, with the size of a Stable usually being commensurate with the size of the establishment. Continue reading

What are Servant Bedrooms?

painting1-JosephCaraudLadysMaid - servant bedrooms

Besides the upper and under servant offices used by domestic staff to accomplish their jobs, there were special sleeping quarters allotted to servants. Such sleeping quarters consisted of Under-servant and Upper-servant Bedrooms and Stranger-servant Bedrooms.

  • Under-servant Bedrooms: Male and female domestics had separate quarters for sleeping. Female domestics were usually provided with bedrooms either in the attic, uppermost story, or over servant offices, which were accessible by a back stairway. These rooms were usually small and not suitable for more than two domestics. They were also meagerly furnished with a single bed and, perhaps, a nightstand. It was also desirable that such quarters have a fireplace or some way to help keep occupants warm during cold nights. Under-servant Bedrooms for men were similar to the sleeping quarters used by women. Sometimes, however, men might be housed in a dormitory like atmosphere. In that case a high partition separated each bed. If there were enough male servants, their rooms might be accessed by a special staircase that ascended from servant offices. However, if there were just two or three male servants, their rooms might be placed on the ground floor for added protection against intrusion at night. Continue reading

What are Wash-houses and Laundry-Related Rooms?

A Laundry Maid Ironing, by Henry Robert Morland, Eighteenth Century, Public Domain

Because eighteenth and nineteenth century houses generated lots of laundry, laundry facilities were an important part of any home. Sometimes laundry facilities were completely separate from a house and located near the Stables, but it was a chore to move the entire laundry of household to an area far from the house. One reason laundry facilities might be located next to the Stables was because it was difficult to attach Drying or Bleaching grounds near a house. Part of the decision about laundry locations was often based on the number of inferior servants tasked with accomplishing the chore. Additionally, if the mistress of the house or the head laundress wanted to supervise laundry operations more closely, and if drying outdoors was dispensed with, indoor drying might be used it. Among the areas associated with laundry were the Wash-house, Laundry, Drying-room and Hot Closet, Linen-room, and Soiled-Linen Closet. Continue reading

What are Cellars, Storage, and Outbuildings?

Stocking an Ice House, Courtesy of Wikipedia
Stocking an Ice House, Courtesy of Wikipedia

Cellars were used for storage, and outbuildings were small buildings separated from the main house that also provided some sort of storage. There were a variety of cellars and outbuildings. These included such things as beer-cellars, bins, coal-cellars and wood-houses, fruit-stores, ice-houses, lumber-rooms, miscellaneous cellars, and wine-cellars.

  • Beer-cellar: Superior residences often had a Beer-cellar. Beer-cellars were not necessarily located next to Wine-cellars—despite the convenience it would have afforded—because unlike Wine-cellars, Beer-cellars required light and ventilation. Access to Beer-cellars also depended on whether or not the beer was brewed at home or delivered. Beer-cellars were usually also sparsely furnished and contained nothing more than beer casks and some stools. Sometimes there was a Receiving-cellar that accommodated both wine and beer and was used for unpacking beer or wine, washing bottles, stowing hampers, etc. In small residences the Beer-cellar was often placed in front of the Wine-cellar due to space restrictions. Continue reading

What are Under-Servant Offices?

Footman, Public Domain
Footman, Public Domain

Under-servants, sometimes called lower-servants, performed the duties under the direction of upper-servants. Under-servants included scullery maids, kitchen maids, cooks, footmen, housemaids, and grooms. Special rooms designated for use by under-servants  included such rooms as the Cleaning rooms, Housemaid’s Closets, and Servants’ Halls.

Cleaning-rooms: These rooms were used for specific types of cleaning. In large houses there might be a special Brushing-room to clean garments. Such a room usually contained nothing more than a large table and was placed near the Butler’s-Pantry or Servants’-Hall. In a country home there might also be a fireplace in the Brushing-room to help dry wet garments. Other specialty cleaning rooms included a Knife-room or Shoe-room. If lamps were kept, there was sometimes a special Lamp-room to trim wicks, clean lamps, and so forth. Such a room might also contain a table, shelves, a locked cupboard or locked closet to store candles, oil, or lamp accessories. In smaller homes, the Housemaid’s-Closet might contain the Lamp-room or lamp accessories. Continue reading

What are Kitchens, Sculleries, and Larders?

Kitchens, sculleries, and larders: Victorian Kitchen Maids
Victorian Kitchen Maids, Public Domain

Kitchens were used for cooking and usually connected to Larders, Entrances, Sculleries, Dining-rooms, Sideboard-rooms, Servant-Halls, Steward-rooms, Housekeeper’s room, and Still-rooms. The most important features of a good Kitchen was coolness, dryness, and good lighting. Ventilation was also of primary importance because people did not want odors or cooking smells permeating into a family’s living quarters or greeting guests at the front door. Continue reading

What are State-Rooms?

State-rooms of Blenheim Palace Marked "C" and "D", Courtesy of Wikipedia
State-rooms of Blenheim Palace Marked “C” and “D”, Courtesy of Wikipedia

In the 1700s, State-rooms were generally found in large European mansions or palaces. Admittance into these rooms was considered a privilege, and the further a person penetrated, the greater the honor. State-rooms also implied one of a suite of very grand rooms that were designed to impress guests, but at the same time State-rooms did not necessarily sacrifice family comfort, even if the mansion that contained them was to be maintained in palatial style. Moreover, State-rooms tended to be specialized rooms with specific purposes. State-rooms included such rooms as Ball-rooms, Domestic Chapels, Great Libraries or Museums, Music-rooms, State Dining-rooms, State Drawing-rooms, and State-Galleries. Continue reading

What are Upper-Servant Offices?

Upper-servant offices

Status was just as important among servants as it was within aristocratic ranks. Upper-servants supervised under-servants (sometimes called lower servants) and under-servants deferred to upper-servants. Upper-servants included the house steward, butler, valet, head housekeeper, head nurse, and lady’s maid. Upper-servants also enjoyed privileges that under-servants did not, and, in order for upper-servants to perform their jobs effectively, they were often allotted special offices or quarters for their use. Such offices or quarters included the Butler’s Pantry, China-closet and Scullery, Gun-rooms, House-Steward’s Office, Housekeeper’s-Room, Service or Sideboard-rooms, Still-rooms, Steward’s-Room or Upper-Servants’-Hall, and Store-rooms. Continue reading