Tuesday 11 April 2023

K is for Kitchen

Welcome to today's April A to Z Blog Challenge post. 

K is for Kitchen (a Victorian kitchen) 


Margaret, the main character in my current writing set in Victorian Scotland, is very lucky to have been recommended to the Duncan family by her childhood friend Jessie. Margaret is currently serving in a trial period, of one month, as a tutor for a bedridden daughter of the family. Her friend Jessie, employed at the same Edinburgh residence, is much less favoured. She is still considered to be a lowly scullery maid, having held that position for approximately four years.

Poor Jessie isn’t confined to only the scullery, though. In fact, through diligence and hard work, she’s actually a maid-of-all-sorts, attending to many of the needs of the family, though she isn’t paid much beyond a scullery maid’s wages.


When Jessie is in the scullery, her job there is to scrub the dishes, the pots and the many new-fangled kitchen gadgets that the cook, Mistress Abernethy, is still getting the hang of. Jessie isn’t a fan of standing on the slatted wooden mat in front of the big rectangular ceramic sink, but it’s a lot better than standing on the icy stone floor.


Jessie’s learned from the cook that because the house is only a couple of decades old, the water supply and drainage is much better than in other Edinburgh houses, and that she (Jessie) should be thankful that she can draw the cold water directly from inside the scullery. The drudgery of traipsing out to a nearby standpipe was something she was used to back at her granny’s house in Milnathort, so Jessie’s definitely grateful about that.

She likes less the time and effort she has to spend cleaning the multitude of pots used by Mistress Abernethy, and the fiddly wire utensils that are hard to clean, but like the huge array of brushes for cleaning the rooms of the house, there are also many different dish brushes. In her granny’s Milnathort cottage there would only be one pot to clean; a couple of knives and spoons; some wooden plates and bowls; and not much more than a wooden spurtle used to stir the porridge, or the stew.


The food Jessie is given as part of her ‘bed and board’ is a bit more varied than she used to get from her granny, but she rarely gets the variety Mistress Abernethy feeds the Duncan family.

Margaret doesn’t have to labour in the scullery or kitchen, but she is supposed to eat in the kitchen with Jessie and the rest of the servants. Sometimes, though, Jessie has to take a tray upstairs to Margaret if Rachel, the poor bedridden daughter that Margaret tutors, has needed more of Margaret’s time.

No wonder Jessie is exhausted when she flops into her bed at night!

Till next time...

SlĂ inte!



National Trust Book of Forgotten Household Crafts / John Seymour

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you for reading my blog. Please pop your thoughts about this post in the comment box. :-)