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Facilities on Victorian Estates

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Washing facilities for guests in the Victorian home

By the webmaster’s mother, 1906-2002

In the early 1900s when I was a child growing up on the working class Victorian housing estate, it was not considered reasonable to expect guests to wash in the sink in the scullery the way that the rest of the family washed everyday.

The wash china jug and its matching bowl

Guests had hot water taken up to their bedroom in a china jug. The jug would be filled with hot water from the kettle or the copper and the guests would pour the hot water into a bowl and wash themselves.

The washstand

Old matching china jug and bowl for washing oneself where there was no access to a bathroom - common in the early 1900s, blue and white.

Matching jug and bowl sets

Old matching china jug and bowl for washing oneself where there was no access to a bathroom - common in the early 1900s
Old matching china flower-style jug and bowl for washing oneself where there was no access to a bathroom - common in the early 1900s.
Old matching china flower-style jug and bowl for washing oneself where there was no access to a bathroom - common in the early 1900s, flower design on white

A matching bowl or basin was already in the bedroom to hold the water. It was on an washstand elegant stand. In our house it had a marble top which I very much liked.

A typical old washstand in bedrooms used by visitors in the early 1900s.

A typical washstand in bedrooms. Note the decorative matching china set of a basin, jug and soap dish. Also note the towel rail and the bucket for slops. Sketch provided by Rosemary Hampton.

Our jug and bowl set were seldom used for guests though. My mother used the large bowl for mixing Christmas puddings and my father used the jug for making home-made wine.

Other matching items on washstands

In better-off houses, the decorated china jugs and bowls were part of matching sets which included soap dishes, chamber pots and shaving jugs. Some were very pretty indeed.

Hot water for guests

If a guest had a bath with us, the copper had to be lit to provide the hot water. This then had to be carried upstairs to the bath in the offroom, where of course there was no running water.



If you can add anything to this page or provide a photo, I would be pleased if you would contact me.


Page based on the recollections and notes of the webmaster's mother (1906-2002) with additional research and editorial work by the webmaster

Text and images are copyright


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