Well-managed Victorian households had a domestic staff of anywhere from up to forty or more, depending on the size of the house or estate and the needs of the family.
While wealthy families had the money to hire as many staff as they wanted, even the middle class managed to raise enough extra money to hire at least one domestic. Domestic help was so essential to the social image of the Victorian home that almost 13% of women in England and Wales were employed as servants in the nineteenth century.
Regardless of the way in which domestic servants could work, most families followed a logical hiring progress that aimed to ensure that as many domestic chores as possible had a corresponding person in charge of the job. execution or realization.
The lowest on the domestic hierarchy, and often the first to be endowed, was the daily girl or charwoman. This entry level position was usually held by a girl in her teens who was responsible for general housekeeping and heavy cleaning. Depending on the size of the domestic staff, she might also have laundry responsibilities and others. Think of Cinderella without the help of the fairy godmother.
The next to be hired would usually be either a housekeeper or a nurse depending on the age of the children at home. The maid helped to serve the meals and the guests, refresh the living room, lower the beds and help the lady of the house with her personal needs. Sometimes she can even provide domestic services to other higher ranking house employees.
The nanny provided all the services normally provided by the nanny of today. She dressed the children, washed and fed them, took them outside to play and acted like a mother in many ways. In some cases, it was actually possible for a "wet nurse" to feed infants in some Victorian homes.
The next line to rent would normally be the cook. The cook had absolute authority over the kitchen and, in the houses where there were no domestic staff beyond the housekeeper and a housekeeper was often responsible for supervision and hiring of domestic help.
This trio of omnipotent, nurse or housekeeper and cook was able to provide a wide range of services to smaller and less affluent Victorian families. But for larger households, hiring progress continued, with the next being usually a male worker. According to the house, his responsibilities generally extended from general maintenance to the provision of valet services to the lord of the manor. He could also double as a stable keeper and drive the cart as well.
For households with higher staffing needs, domestic staff were selected to occupy specialized positions that varied by family. The available positions included a maid, maid, maid, maid (who automatically became the supervisor of domestic staff without a butler), a waiter, a coachman, a chef and a variety of salons. maids, maids and more. The very rich seemed to have a servant for all the reasons.
For houses with properties (known as landed properties), there was always an assortment of land, men, gardeners, stable boys and gamekeepers.
The hours were long and the pay was lamentable, but there was a sense of pride in being a valued servant. In fact, many servants have spent their entire lives with the same employer and have often seen the children become the new Lords and Dames of the Manor.