In 1881, the housemaid at Shibden Hall was Louisa Ann Kitchener who was 29. She was born in Berkshire, many miles from Halifax.
Louisa worked for the family for over 20 years, eventually becoming the Housekeeper to the family. A number of her relations also worked at Shibden.
The housemaid was responsible for keeping the house clean and in order. She was meant to do much of this out of view of the family and so had to rise very early in the morning to complete her work. It was also necessary to keep to a very strict routine to ensure that all the work was done. Each hour of the day and each day of the week had clearly defined tasks.
If, as at Shibden, there were other subordinate maids, the head housemaid would be responsible for supervising their work, and would do the cleaning in the ‘best’ rooms of the house, particularly cleaning the most important pieces of furniture and ornaments.
In smaller households where there was no lady’s maid, the housemaid was also responsible for helping to dress the mistress of the house and to care for her clothes.