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Florence Cole as a child

The kitchen in a working class
house in the early 1900s

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The meaning of the word 'kitchen' in the early 20th century

Typical decor of an everyday room in a working class 
	household in the early 1900s

Typical decor of an everyday room in a working class household in the early 1900s. Note the rug on the floor, the wallpaper, the picture on the wall, the fender, the long curtains and the high back chairs. This photo is courtesy of Don Billing and shows his grandmother, Alice Long in Islington, north London. She was probably living in an older, larger house than the terraced houses on the Huxley Estate as I do not remember their ceilings being as high.

The word 'kitchen' has changed its meaning over the years. In the early 1900s when I was a child on the working class Huxley Estate, the kitchen was where the family really lived, ate, worked and played. The scullery was where the food preparation, cooking and washing took place. The first sketch on the house plans page shows how the two were connected.

Being where the family spent its time, the kitchen was comfortably furnished.

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The walls

The wall on the passage (hall) side of the kitchen, against the stairs, was quite attractive tongued and grooved wood and it made up the side of the coal hole where the coalman shot the coal when he delivered.

The other walls were plastered and wall-papered.

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The floor

The floor was essentially wooden planks but it was covered with oil-cloth.

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The kitchen window

The back wall had a sash window which looked out onto the back yard and garden.

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The built-in cupboards

On one side of the fireplace was a recess with a built-in cupboard in which was kept the everyday crockery and all the food except the perishables. (These were kept in the safe just outside the scullery door.)

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The kitchen changes its name

By the 1940s most residents of the Huxley Estate were referring to the kitchen as the 'living room'. The 'scullery' became the 'kitchen'.

If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased to hear from you.

Pat Cryer, webmaster

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