Archive for June, 2019

A lady’s maid for a must for any lady who wished to appear well turned out. She was highly trained, and she answered to no one but her mistress (unless her mistress was a daughter of the house or a ward). Gowns were very hard, if impossible, to get in and out of if one didn’t have a maid. For those who could not afford one, a regular housemaid would suffice. The problem then would be care of garments. As did valets, a lady’s maid (or dresser) was responsible for keeping the gowns, shoes, and other garments clean and in good condition. A laundress pretty much just boiled linens. They did not clean silks etc. Speaking of linens, the lady’s maid was also responsible to replacing chemises and other intimate items. Although the lady would most likely select her own stocking. She would inform her mistress when new gloves, slippers, and shoes were needed. She’d take half-boots and riding boots to be repaired.

In addition to clothing, a lady’s maid also looked after a lady’s jewelry, supervised the cleaning of her room (she did not clean it herself nor did she lay the fire when needed) and she was available several times a day and into the early morning hours for clothing changes or for anything else the lady wanted her to attend to. In my opinion, any idea that a lady would be able to undress herself after a ball or other evening event is ludicrous. She trimmed the lady’s hair and styled it, manicured her nails, assisted with her bath and hair washing, and might even advise as to the style, jewels, gowns, etc. a lady wore.

When traveling, the lady’s maid would frequently go ahead and prepare her mistress’s chamber in an inn or wherever she was staying. Thus increasing her lady’s reputation or standing.

Considering all their tasks, I find it improbably that a lady’s maid would actually accompany her mistress on walks. I suspect that if a maid did accompany the lady it would likely have been a regular maid. Prudent parents would probably have a footman accompany a lady. That said, I could be wrong. If anyone has read any accounts of who exactly accompanied a lady on walks in Town, I’d love the sources.

Aside from being one of the highest paid servants, and having the status of senior staff, one of the benefits of being a lady’s maid was that she received her mistress’s cast off garments and was able to augment her income by selling them.

Lady's Maid

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A valet was essential to any gentleman who could afford one. Not only did he help dress a gentleman, but he attended to his clothing. In other words, he cleaned the fabrics (wools, superfines, Bath coating, silks, and leather) that made up a gentleman’s wardrobe. Additionally, a valet cleaned and polished boots, and shoes. Many valets were known for the superior shine on boots.

He supervised the laundry’s cleaning of shirts and cravats, and replenishment of those articles. He supervised the maids when they cleaned a gentleman’s chambers. And he was responsible for keeping the jewelry and fobs clean and in good repair. He would also trim the gentleman’s hair, shave him (if required), and manicure his nails.

When traveling, the valet would ride ahead to inspect inn rooms and ensure they were made up properly. If a gentleman was visiting friends, he’d arrive before the gentleman and make sure all his kit was unpacked and the room set up the way he liked it.

A valet would also perform personal tasks, such as errands of a personal nature, for a gentleman.

Valets worked directly for the gentleman he served and did not take orders from a butler (for example). The were on call at all hours unless specifically given the time off.

A valet had a room near or attached to the gentleman’s dressing room. If there was only a small room in that area, he’d have a larger separate bedchamber near his master’s chambers.

Valets would sometimes gain superior reputations, and it wasn’t unusual for other gentlemen to attempt to hire such a valet away.



#RegencyTrivia  #HistoricalRomance #ReadaRegency #RegencyRomance

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