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Edwardian Maid

Edwardian Maid



The 1901 census showed that a large number of women who worked were in domestic service, 1,690,686 or 40.5% of the adult female population. Seebohm Rowntree, the Quaker philanthropist’s report on the slums of York concluded that 28% of the cities population was living in intolerable hardship. He also commented that “the keeping of or not keeping of servants” was the defining line between the working classes and those of a superior social standing.


In order to go into service a maid had to have her own uniforms; a print dress, aprons, a black dress, stiff collars and cuffs, all packed into the small trunk which was the only luggage a new maid was permitted. The cost would have been approximately £4 or the equivalent of £229 today.

The Print dress and “morning apron” of course hessian were worn for the early morning menial tasks such as cleaning the grates, scrubbing floors and laying fires. At lunchtime they changed into their smarter black dress and starched white “afternoon apron” so that they would be suitably dressed to lay tables and serve lunches even if this was only in the servants’ hall.

The aprons, cuffs and collars were expected to be pristine at all times, with hours spent starching and pressing them. These were all hand sewn and a maid’s apron was considered an ideal family gift with a girl in service.


  •  Maloney, A; (2011) “Life Below Stairs – True Lives of Edwardian Servants”, Michael O’Mara Books Ltd; London. (p 11, 61 – 64)

February 24, 2014 - Posted by | Maid, Maids, Servants, Social History, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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