What are Sleeping-Rooms and Children’s Rooms?

Houses of the eighteenth and nineteenth century had a variety of different rooms that functioned in different ways. Two categories of rooms were sleeping -ooms and children rooms. Sleeping-Rooms were used by families for sleeping, dressing, and for privacy. Children’s Rooms were preserved for children and were usually located in a house so as to relieve “the main part of the house … from the more immediate occupation of the Children.”

 

Sleeping-rooms - "In Bed"

“In Bed,” by artist Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. Courtesy of Wikipedia.

Rooms designated as sleeping-rooms included family bedchamber suites, guests’ suites, ordinary bedrooms, ordinary dressing-rooms, and other special bedrooms.

  • Family Bedchamber Suite: Superior homes, such as the Daylesford House owned by Eliza de Feuillide‘s godfather, Warren Hastings, usually had what would be termed Family Bedchamber Suites. Such suites were usually positioned in one wing of the house, with privacy being the key as the suites served as private lodgings for the master and mistress of the house. In large residences, the perfect Family Bedchamber Suite might include a Gentleman’s-room or Business-room, a Lady’s Sitting-room (Boudoir), the Bedrooms (Sleeping-rooms), Dressing-rooms, and perhaps a Waiting-room. There was also usually some sort of lady’s maid‘s access next to the mistress’s rooms. Such suites also often had some sort of private corridor and private entrance, such as a Garden Entrance. There was also usually some sort of access (sometimes by staircase) to the Nursery or Bedchambers of other family members.
  • Ordinary Bedroom: These bedrooms were used by staff, such as tutors, governesses, secretaries, companions, etc. Furnishings were usually meager and included only the necessities, such as the bed, a dressing table, and a wardrobe. Sometimes there was also a small, private Sitting-room attached. Additionally, Ordinary Bedrooms were occasionally converted into sick rooms.
  • Ordinary Dressing-room: An Ordinary Dressing-room was a small private room usually attached to a Bedroom and used for the purposes of people’s daily toilet. Such rooms almost always had a fireplace, and furnishings usually consisted of such things as a dressing table, washstand, wardrobe, drawers, a small side-table and chairs. Sometimes it might also contain a small bedstead.
  • Other Special Bedrooms: There were several types of special bedrooms. Guest suites were one type of special bedroom and were available for married guests, such as the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire, Monsieur and Madame Récamier, or the Earl and Lady Derby. These rooms were usually situated near the Family Bedchamber Suites, often had a private Lobby, and sometimes had a Lady’s Dressing-room. Bachelor Bedrooms were another type of special bedroom. They were small single rooms, placed together with some sort of separate access that enabled occupants to pass to and from without accessing the Principal Staircase or the main thoroughfares. Another special set of bedrooms were the Young Ladies’ Rooms. These were two or three contiguous ordinary Bedrooms with perhaps a private lobby or passageway. They frequently had a private Bath-room or Wardrobe Lobby. The Governesses room was usually located close to the Young Ladies’ Rooms. Special bedrooms also served double duty because they could be used if someone was ill or temporarily incapacitated. Sometimes they also functioned (although infrequently) as a set of apartments for a married couple, if a married son or married daughter was residing with their parents.

These were also several room designated specifically as sleeping-rooms for children, which included the Nursery. Nurseries were used when children were under the charge of a nurse. Once a child left the Nursery, they were put under the charge of a Governess, and a few years after that they were sent to school with the School-rooms or Suites often times being available inside a large home. A child remained there until they were considered a young person and placed with adults.

  • Nurseries and Suites: Nurseries were usually placed so that a mother could immediately supervise the children if required. One of the prime places for Nurseries was between the Family Sleeping-rooms and the Servant’s quarter. In the smallest of houses two rooms were usually designated for the child. One room was usually the Day-room that functioned as a cheerful Sitting-room and was used to accommodate children at play and provide them with an area for visitors. A small apartment, known as a Nursery Scullery, was sometimes attached to the Day-room. It was used by nurses as needed and contained “a fireplace, a sink, closets, and shelving.” The Sleeping-room, sometimes called the Night-Nursery, was usually large enough to accommodate three children and a nurse. It was similar to other bedrooms but also might have a closet, bath, wash-basin, and cupboards. In the 1800s, bathrooms with Water-closets were also attached to Children’s Sleeping-rooms.
  • School-rooms and Suites: This was essentially an apartment and was the name given to a set of rooms where two or three children were under the care of a governess. Among the rooms was a Day-room/Sitting-room used by pupils and the governess. A complete School-room Suite often consisted of the School-room where the children were taught, a Governess’s-Room, a washing closet, and perhaps a book-closet. Young Ladies’ Rooms were often placed close to their Governess’s-Room, and boys likewise had a similar arrangement for their tutors, but they might also have the addition of a Gentlemen’s Odd-room.

References:

  • Kerr, Robert, The Gentleman’s House, 1865.

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