Washing facilities for guests in the Victorian home
By the webmaster's mother
(1906-2002) from personal experiences/observations, with firsthand contributions from
others, edited with further research by the webmaster
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
the guests would pour the
hot water into a bowl and wash themselves.
Matching jug and bowl sets
A matching bowl or basin was already in
the bedroom to hold the water. It was on an washstand elegant stand. In our house
a marble top which I very much liked.
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
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.
Text and images are copyright
sources: early 20th century material
sources: ww2 home front and other material