Book number two in the Castonbury Park series, The Housemaid’s Scandalous Secret by Helen Dickson, is out in September! Helen visits us today to share the duties of a Regency-era maid–do you think you could carry them out?? Comment for a chance to win a copy…
DUTIES OF A LADY’S MAID
Her education should be superior to that of the ordinary class of females. She must be neat and clean in her person and dress, have strict regard to religious and moral obligations, be of a cheerful disposition and courteous in demeanour. Her character must be remarkable for industry and moderation and her deportment for modesty and humility. She must never betray her lady’s confidence, and must devote herself to those she is engaged to serve.
It is her duty to put in readiness everything her mistress may require to wear during the day and for dinner. She must dress and undress her mistress, and in this she should be knowledgeable, quick, and to manifest good taste by suiting the jewellery and decoration of her dress to the complexion, age and general appearance of her lady’s person. She must be an excellent hairdresser and have a good knowledge of remedies for beauty treatments – from getting rid of pimples, freckles, thickening and strengthening hair, to bad breath and toothache.
She is responsible for repairing and removing stains, to wash the lace and fine linen. When not in attendance she retires to her workroom where she employs herself at needle-work and to be available at all times if needed.
She must wait up for her mistress to return from evening engagements, and when she has retired she has to carefully examine her clothes and do all that is necessary to be done to them before she folds them away and puts away her jewels. Only then can she seek her own bed.
If her mistress is elderly or infirm, she will be required to bring her work and sit with her, to sometimes read to her and administer her medicines.
She is allowed to walk out in the afternoons (depending on her lady’s indulgence) and to attend church on Sundays.
The wages of a lady’s-maid vary depending on the income and expenditure of the family that employs her – between eighteen and twenty-five guineas per anum.