Oxted & District History Society - Talk
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Oxted & District History Society

Judy Hill, a lecturer at Surrey University, gave an illustrated lecture to the Oxted & District History Society on ‘Life Below Stairs’.

During Victorian times there was a massive increase in domestic servants, particularly female servants.  This was because of an expansion in newly monied industrialists, bankers and other entrepreneurs.  They built country and town houses and social status was reflected in the numbers of servants employed.

The butler was in charge of the housekeeper and footman, valets, coachmen and grooms. The female housekeeper organised the cook, lady’s maid and housemaids.  The kitchen and scullery maids worked to the cook.  The lady’s maid provided personal services, dressmaking and coiffure to the mistress.  The housemaids cleaned while the family were in other parts of the house.  They carried coal and hot water and often worked 16 hours a day.  The servants’ quarters were usually in the basement, although most of them slept in the attic.  Many servants came from rural areas, starting as housemaids and working their way up.  Many households did not employ married servants and there were very strict rules and regulations, with only ½ or one day off a week.

Life below stairs a talk by Judy Hill.