Life of a Kitchen Maid

This advert pricked my interest as it is in Kingston Upon Thames where I was born.

A magazine advert from 1887

Bearfield Road is still there as is the house.

What kind of life did a kitchen maid have though.

Domestic servants are a class in society no less essential to its welfare and convenience than the equivalent in subsistence and money which, for service done, that class receives, is essential to the well-being of each individual belonging to it. An encyclopæaedia of domestic economy by Thomas Webster 1845

Well better than a scullery maid but not by much. A Kitchen maids salary was slightly more than that of the scullery maid. She got a whopping salary of  £15.00 per year and would have worked from 6.30am but until 9.30pm with one afternoon off per week.

Duties of Cook, Kitchen-maid, and Scullion.

The routine duties of cook, kitchen-maid, and scullion being intermingled, can scarcely admit of separate descriptions. The cook directs the whole business of the kitchen; the others assist in its performance; she is responsible for the mode in which it is conducted and performed, and must possess, therefore, adequate skill; they, on their part, have only to be active, cleanly, and obedient. To these domestics, early rising is of the utmost importance, and, as their hours of retiring to rest are less uncertain, and not dependent, as those of the servants in other departments, on the movements of the family, there can be neither hardship nor difficulty in their rising betimes, not later than 6 in the summer and 7 in the winter. If they fail in this, they will find that an hour lost in the morning may be run after, but never overtaken the rest of the day.” The inconvenience of late rising in these three domestics will not only affect their own, but the business also of many of the other servants.  An encyclopæaedia of domestic economy by Thomas Webster 1845

In the bigger households the head kitchen maid is an under-cook, that is she assumes many of the ordinary everyday cooking duties.

She will also be sweeping and cleaning the kitchen, larder, and other offices belonging to the kitchen together with the halls, stone steps at the house entrance, office passages, kitchen stairs, dec.

As well as this daily sweeping and dusting, she has to scour and wash all these places twice a week, and to scrub tables, shelves, and cupboards.

In smaller households will prepares vegetables, game and poultry, does the dairy-work, and bakes the bread.

If there is no stillroom maid, she makes the cakes for luncheon, tea and dessert and the rolls for breakfast. She keeps the kitchen clean and keeps things in order. So a busy  day indeed!

The Kitchen maid would only be allowed upstairs once a day, for morning prayers. Otherwise she spends all her time between her bedroom in the attic and the Kitchen.

Generally speaking she would dine in the kitchen with the scullery maid or in larger houses with the general staff.


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