The scullery

In the way that some modern houses have a kitchen and a utility room, separating the room for cooking and, possibly, eating from the place where washing takes place, so homes in Victorian times and the early twentieth century might have had a kitchen and a scullery.

This was certainly the case in Sybil Baker’s grandmother’s home, Broadwell House, in Market Lavington in the 1920s and also in the old schoolmaster’s house, which houses our museum. In this blog post, we will consider both buildings, with the quotations and drawings coming from Sybil’s Memories of Market Lavington file and the photograph from the museum building.

“A door from the kitchen and also the back door of the house opened into the scullery which had a flagstone floor which was scrubbed weekly at least by my grandmother on her hands and knees!”

The layout was much the same in the schoolmaster’s house, with the lean to being the scullery. This was replaced with a similar single storey room in 1985, when the building was being converted into a museum. The photograph of the school children on the fire escape shows the original lean to, which had been the scullery.

Sybil remembered that, in her grandmother’s house, “there was a rectangular stone sink near the back door and, in one corner was a boiler, or copper, as it was called, in which the laundry was washed – no washing machines then!”

“Practically every house had a copper for boiling the water in which the white wash was done. This included sheets, pillow and bolster cases, tablecloths, towels and tea towels, hankies and any cotton article which would hold its colour in very hot water but, in those days, the above articles were usually white. Coloured items which could not be boiled, were washed by hand in the sink.”

“The copper was usually built into the angle where two walls joined. It was of brick, surrounding a metal basin-shaped interior which held the laundry, and the top was covered with a wooden lid.”

We will continue Sybil’s account of wash day in our next post.

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