04 March 2012

Dirty Laundry

"A Ladys Maid Soaping Linen" Henry Robert Moreland (ca. 1765-1797)

I'm in the middle of Inside the Victorian Home: A Portrait of Domestic Life in Victorian England by Judith Flanders, which is a fascinating read. The complex running of a home then seems incredibly daunting. Among the countless weekly chores that had to be done was laundry, a major event that took a lot of time and energy, and lasted many days. How well you ran and kept your household could affect your social standing and therefore the mistress of a house would have been especially concerned about her laundry. A nursery rhyme from the time sums up the general opinion on the subject. 

They that wash on Monday
Have all the week to dry.
They that was on Tuesday
Are not so much awry.
They that was on Wednesday
Are not so much to blame.
They that wash on Thursday
Wash for very shame.
They that wash on Friday
Wash in sorry need.
They that wash on Saturday
Are lazy sluts indeed. 

I always do laundry on Saturdays (or drop it off on Saturdays at least). Oh dear, I guess I know what that makes me.

I realize that the image above is not Victorian but I thought it very pretty. To see Victorian images and to read more, you can find the book here.

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