Guest Blogger Helen Dickson

Book number two in the Castonbury Park series, The Housemaid’s Scandalous Secret by Helen Dickson, is out in September!  Helen visits us today to share the duties of a Regency-era maid–do you think you could carry them out??  Comment for a chance to win a copy…
DUTIES OF A LADY’S MAID
Her education should be superior to that of the ordinary class of females. She must be neat and clean in her person and dress, have strict regard to religious and moral obligations, be of a cheerful disposition and courteous in demeanour. Her character must be remarkable for industry and moderation and her deportment for modesty and humility. She must never betray her lady’s confidence, and must devote herself to those she is engaged to serve.
It is her duty to put in readiness everything her mistress may require to wear during the day and for dinner. She must dress and undress her mistress, and in this she should be knowledgeable, quick, and to manifest good taste by suiting the jewellery and decoration of her dress to the complexion, age and general appearance of her lady’s person. She must be an excellent hairdresser and have a good knowledge of remedies for beauty treatments – from getting rid of pimples, freckles, thickening and strengthening hair, to bad breath and toothache.
She is responsible for repairing and removing stains, to wash the lace and fine linen. When not in attendance she retires to her workroom where she employs herself at needle-work and to be available at all times if needed. 
 
She must wait up for her mistress to return from evening engagements, and when she has retired she has to carefully examine her clothes and do all that is necessary to be done to them before she folds them away and puts away her jewels. Only then can she seek her own bed.
If her mistress is elderly or infirm, she will be required to bring her work and sit with her, to sometimes read to her and administer her medicines.
She is allowed to walk out in the afternoons (depending on her lady’s indulgence) and to attend church on Sundays. 
 
The wages of a lady’s-maid vary depending on the income and expenditure of the family that employs her – between eighteen and twenty-five guineas per anum.
Helen Dickson

About Amanda McCabe/Laurel McKee

Writer (as Amanda McCabe, Laurel McKee, Amanda Carmack), history geek, yoga enthusiast, pet owner!
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13 Responses to Guest Blogger Helen Dickson

  1. izzyfalloni says:

    Crikey, not sure I could be such a paragon! I’m a little too rebellious of spirit! Looking forward to the book though!

  2. Don’t think I could do it either. it wouldn’t be so bad if you had a nice lady you were maid too.

  3. Melody May says:

    I know for fact I could never be a maid. That would be a lot of work to dress and undress them everyday.

  4. Kat says:

    As the maid in my own home, I am reminded daily by the clutter of my inadequacies as a maid.

  5. Diane Gaston says:

    Welcome, Helen! It is lovely to have you at Risky Regencies!

  6. Cathy P says:

    Hi Helen! Welcome! I’m afraid I would be a failure at being a lady’s maid. I don’t mind taking care of people, but I am lousy with needlework.

  7. Hello, Helen! I do love your books and this series promises to be another great one.

    Good heavens! This almost sounds like Caroline Bingley’s description of Darcy’s list of attributes for a woman to be called accomplished.

    I definitely do not qualify!

  8. Eli Yanti says:

    I have no choice but to be a maid at our own house

  9. librarypat says:

    It is amazing lady’s maids lasted for more than a year or so. I cannot do half of those things for myself, let alone for someone else. I guess compared to other employment available at the time, this was a good position. It had a bit more status, and I am sure paid a bit better than other positions she could find. As with most jobs, how miserable a job it was would depend entirely on the lady/family she was working for.

    thanks for the job description.

  10. Julie says:

    Oh dear. I’m afraid I’d never make a good maid…especially if I didn’t like my employer.

  11. Kirsten says:

    I can’t have been much fun if you’re only aloud to go on walks and church visits. Still sometimes I too feel like a maid doing all the washing up and cleaning up after other family members. But if the work is done I can enjoy some time to myself & I read just for me.

  12. Thank you for your warm welcome, Diane, and thank you to everyone for your comments. I do agree. Being any kind of maid in the Regency period, through to the Victorian and on to the 20th century must have been hard work indeed. I doubt I would have been cut out for it but I suppose when needs must it’s amazing what one can achieve. My lady’s maid in The Housemaid’s Scandalous Secret has an understanding mistress – who happens to have a very attractive brother.

    Helen Dickson

  13. The winner of the copy of The Housemaid’s Scandalous Secret is Kirsten

    Please email me your full name and mailing address at

    Helen-dickson@hotmail.co.uk

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