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The Housemaid

The Under Housemaid

A tub, washboard, posser, dolly, sad iron and crimping iron,
Laundry Tools

In 1881, the under housemaid at Shibden Hall was Mary Elizabeth Heap, who was aged 17. She was born in South Wales.


Big wooden hand brush with a  packet of black lead
Black Lead and Brush

The under housemaid was usually a young girl, whose work was supervised by the senior maid. We know at Shibden that girls came to work in the household from the age of 12, and maybe younger. They had many of the dirtier jobs which were given to them by the senior maid.

white ceramic chamber pot with a handle
Chamber Pot


Piece of square stone bolted to a long wooden handle
Stone Scourer

Their duties might include:

  • Laying out the fires
  • Black-leading the grate
  • Sweeping the carpets
  • Emptying the slops
  • Making the beds
  • Completing the laundry

Demonstration of using a Victorian mangle