Request for info on Edwardian servants clothing

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Request for info on Edwardian servants clothing

Postby Lady Wolfshead » Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:04 pm

I'm looking for advice/information on clothing for Edwardian servants in 1910 (preferably in Scotland). In particular, I'd be interested in any sources for underwear and corsetry for a cook, a housekeeper and maids (who work in the kitchen and the rest of the house). Does anyone know any good books, links, etc?
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Postby Shadowcat » Mon Apr 30, 2007 2:15 pm

"Occupational Costume" and another book I can't remember the name of, both by Phillis Cunnington (that is the correct spelling) would be helpful, although probably not in the detail you need.

All those servants would wear modified versions of ordinary clothing - including corsets, petticoats etc. Depending on the rank of the person who employs them, the clothes would have varied according to the time of day. Think "Upstairs, Downstairs" a great TV series of about that period.

Traditionally a housekeeper would have worn black, navy, or possibly maroon or dark brown - rarely green. She would have a cap of some kind, and a bunch of the household keys on her belt.

The cook is next down in the hierarchy, and thus would have worn a less "posh" version of the housekeeper's clothes. And so on down the ranks of the staff to the tweeny who did the dirty chores!!

Hope that helps.

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Postby Tuppence » Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:33 pm

it's her history of household servants.

both books out of print, but paul meekins had copies at the last market
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Postby Shadowcat » Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:46 pm

Thanks Tuppence

I was blowed if I could remember it!

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Postby Lady Wolfshead » Mon Apr 30, 2007 3:52 pm

Thanks, why is it that all the good books are always out of print!

For further info, the family who owned the house were middle-class and had a furniture business. They used to travel to Italy a lot and bring back items that were, at the time, unfashionable but excellent pieces of craftsmanship. There was one housekeeper and an assistant-cook, a laundry maid and some general maids that we know of. All the servants in residence were female. The gardeners and chauffeur were local men who lived in the village.
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Postby m300572 » Mon Apr 30, 2007 4:57 pm

Thanks, why is it that all the good books are always out of print!


I think its because in the past the only costume geeks who bought them were museum staff - nowadays print runs are much bigger because of the costume geekery of re-enactors :lol: :lol: (I admit it, I do buy costume books but mainly as prezzies for my other half!!)
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Postby Shadowcat » Mon Apr 30, 2007 5:28 pm

Hierarchy would have gone Housekeeper, cook, then general maids and assistant cook all pretty much of a muchness, and the laundry maid, slightly lower still. The general maids would have had an order too! Talk about class system. Who did the main cooking? Was that the Housekeeper? In "big" houses, the housekeeper had no cooking duties, merely supervising the female staff, as the butler would supervise the male staff. All these are indoor servants of sourse. Outdoor servants were another matter.

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Postby Nigel » Mon Apr 30, 2007 5:38 pm

Tuppence wrote:it's her history of household servants.

both books out of print, but paul meekins had copies at the last market


I know I bought them for you remember

Possibly two of the msot expensive books I ahve ever bought :D
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Postby Alice the Huswyf » Tue May 01, 2007 12:11 pm

Competitive book buying eh Nicie? The Husbynd once bought the Company of St George glossy pictorial and it has cost him £££££££ since.......
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Postby Tuppence » Tue May 01, 2007 12:41 pm

he got me the household servants one and the recreational costume one

all I need now are the handbooks of costume in the [insert number here] century, and I have the full set.

and the 14th / 15th century costume in pictures....

only problem - the bookcase is full.

and have about half as many books again..... :oops:
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Postby Alice the Huswyf » Tue May 01, 2007 1:00 pm

BOOKSALE!

OR I have a large guinea pig run - I could make you an offer on Nicie....
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Postby Lady Wolfshead » Tue May 01, 2007 4:19 pm

Got to love Amazon! Found several books by Phillis Cunnington and have ordered two - sadly not the Occupational Costume one yet as that was a wee bit pricey for now and they didn't seem to have the History of Household Servants. So thanks for the advice. :)

Shadowcat - from what we can tell the housekeeper did the cooking with help from the assistant cook. Sadly the last owners of the house destroyed all their records before giving the property over to the State so we are eagerly awaiting 2011 when the 1911 census will be available to the public to find out more. However 4 years is a long time to wait so I'm trying to do my best in the meantime to get things as accurate as we can, as far as we can.
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Postby frances » Tue May 01, 2007 10:42 pm

Then there is the palourmaid - different style of pinny and cap from the other servants, but the same corset and dark dress. Was there a Butler? He would have had oversleeves that he put on to polish the silver and do similar dirty jobs but had very different clothes from the boot boy and the gardener's under-gardener.
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Postby guthrie » Tue May 01, 2007 10:57 pm

Tuppence wrote:only problem - the bookcase is full.

and have about half as many books again..... :oops:

Get another bookcase. That's what I do. I seem to have 10 just now.
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Postby Shadowcat » Tue May 01, 2007 11:01 pm

That's "Costume of Household Servants" but it stops at 1900.

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Costume-Househo ... 780&sr=1-7

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Postby Nigel » Wed May 02, 2007 11:33 am

guthrie we ahve c 12 including 1 dedicated to ospreys (c500 titles in there)

my insurance company now sends around a dedicaed book specilst every couple of years

Alice no
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Postby Alice the Huswyf » Wed May 02, 2007 12:22 pm

But Death wants to introduce you to her favourite game - earnipping.
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Postby Lady Wolfshead » Wed May 02, 2007 2:52 pm

Frances - no, there was no Butler to our knowledge. There was a Head Gardener and 2 ordinary gardeners though.
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Postby frances » Thu May 03, 2007 8:57 pm

The Illustrated London News of the time had photographs and adverts of all classes of people from all over the Empire. You should find what you are looking for there. Also try your local history library - they might have photographs of similar houses and their occupants.
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Postby ViscontesseD'Asbeau » Thu May 03, 2007 10:52 pm

Dunno anything about Edwardian servants, but there's a fascinating bit in the diaries of Anne Lister (1820s-30s) where her uncle dies and she has to buy mourning not just for herself but the servants.

She buys black material to be made up into dresses for the female servants and is livid because the cook is so fat she needs x yards more to make a dress than the other servants!
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