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© 2013 RC deWinter ~ All Rights Reserved

The life of the average servant in the Victorian and Edwardian eras was not, on the whole, as relatively humane as depicted in the wildly popular PBS series Downton Abbey.

In a large house a servant’s duties might be more bearable simply because there more hands to do the work, but in a middle-class household with only one or two maids the work was never-ending and often demeaning. Employers thought nothing of changing a servant’s name if they found it unpleasing. Time off was limited to a few hours a week and was allotted with no thought to the needs of the individual. Servants were generally on duty from 5 AM until bedtime, which might not arrive until 8 or 9 PM. Many worked sixteen to eighteen hours a day. Every aspect of a servant’s life revolved about the needs and whims of their employers.

Despite the indignities and rigors of a servant’s life in those times, however, there is some truth to the fact that their lives were better than those of factory workers and those who took in work at home, not to mention prostitutes. Servants could rise in position through the knowledge gained by living in a well-off household. Their understanding of the world at large was often vastly augmented by their time in service as well. Many learned enough and saved enough to eventually move into the small merchant or office-work class.

Here we see a relatively comfortable servant’s bedroom. In stark contrast to the often dark, moldy rooms occupied by kitchen workers and servants in less agreeable households, this room is painted, carpeted and well-lit by unseen windows. Note the extra underspring in case a second bed is needed for an additional servant, along with the chamber pot that was still common in many well-off households into the early 20th century.

Digital oils from an original photograph shot at Miramont Castle, Manitou Springs, Colorado, May 2005.

Tech specs: Photoshop 7, Flaming Pear, DAP




*I have been a photographer for over 25 years, using both traditional and digital SLR equipment, with pictures published in print as well as in online publications and galleries. If you enjoy my work, please spread the word, and thank you for stopping by.

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Comments

  • RobynLee
    RobynLeeover 1 year ago

    Beautiful painting & the information you provided to go along w/it was really interesting! I visited Manitou Springs several years ago when staying a friend who lived in Colorado Springs & I really like the relaxed “hippie-vibe” there. I Unfortunately,I didn’t visit the castle there ;in fact I don’t think I was aware there was one-lol. Can send this painting to “Impressionist Art”?

  • If you ever go back you must visit Miramont, you will be enchanted. Thank you for the kind feedback and for the invitation to Impressionist Art as well!

    – RC deWinter

  • Shulie1
    Shulie1over 1 year ago

    THey had such terrible lives back then – wonderful work, Gina

  • Much appreciated, Stephanie, thank you.

    – RC deWinter

  • Heloisa Castro
    Heloisa Castroover 1 year ago

    excellent work

  • Glad you like it, thanks so much.

    – RC deWinter

  • EdsMum
    EdsMumover 1 year ago

    Congratulations – 27th July, 2013 – Shirley, Jean & Rene

    Perhaps you might take time to leave a comment HERE

  • Many thanks and much appreciated!

    – RC deWinter

  • Anthony DiMichele
    Anthony DiMicheleabout 1 year ago

    haunting

  • Many thanks Anthony, glad you like it.

    – RC deWinter

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