Victorian Durham
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The role of servants

 

Upper and middle-class households would have been run by servants.It has been estimated that over 1 million people were working as servants by the end of the 19th century. One third of these were young women under the age of 20. Children, sometimes as young as 10, were also employed as servants. Servants either worked close to the place where they lived or had a room in the house where they worked.

The working day was long starting at 5 or 6 o'clock in the morning. One of the first duties of the day was to light the fires so that the house was warm for when the family woke up. Other tasks included cleaning, preparing food and attending to the needs of the family. In smaller households, servants had a variety of jobs but in larger houses they might just have one specific job.

Both men and women worked as servants although the jobs they had to do were different. A man's job might include running the stables, working in the gardens or working as a footman or butler. Women were usually given the jobs of cooking, cleaning and other general housekeeping tasks.

Read on to find out more about what Victorians wore.

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Photographs of servants doing the laundry

Photograph showing servants doing the laundry. Image courtesy of Beamish Museum.