In large households there is a hall, or dining room, for the servants. This room should be so arranged that it can be used for a general sitting room in the evening. It is taken care of by the kitchen maid. In some houses the servants have also the use of the front basement as a sitting room. Again in many places they are expected to eat in the kitchen and to use a part of it for a sitting room.


Very few of the old downtown houses have the advantage of wholesome and sufficient servants' quarters, but in the newer dwellings the architects and owners seem to recognize the fact that the little company, which is to keep the great house clean and sanitary, cannot be clean or well in its different members without sufficient room and appliances for keeping clean.

The general government of the servants' hall rests with the butler and the cook.

Each servant has a right to some time off duty, and to some time out of the house. The common rule in regard to return in the evening is that each should be in by half-past ten, and doors locked before eleven. Any one wishing to remain out later should obtain permission, the butler reporting the men and the women applying to the housekeeper.

In smaller households in the question of time off duty, the cook has every other Sunday afternoon and evening, one evening in the week after dinner is served, and occasionally an afternoon, say from three to ten-thirty. If no kitchen maid is kept, the cook prepares the dinner and the laundress cooks it.

The waitress has the same time off, the chambermaid taking her place, if no parlor maid is kept. The chambermaid has the same privilege, the waitress turning down beds, taking water to the rooms, and making other arrangements for the night. Two or three servants must be at home to answer family calls and door-bells, the mistress arranging this matter so that there may be no misunderstanding.

The butler has every other afternoon off, footman alternating, returning at five o'clock. If the butler is single-handed, he has one or two nights a week and a few hours of an afternoon. Where a number of servants are kept, they have more time off and arrange this among themselves.


The usher of the servants' hall may be almost termed the butler and master of the hall, except during those times when the head-coachman or the under-butler presides. It is usual for the usher, on the clearing of the cloth, to give "The Healths of the Master and Mistress" and of "The Junior Branches of the Family."

He is answerable that no person leaves the hall intoxicated, and he is often obliged to refuse beer when he considers enough has been had.

He has to keep the servants' hall clean, to lay the cloth for the servants' meals, to bring refreshments or beer to those privileged to have it, keeping the copper tankards and other beer-vessels clean. That the adage has it, "Bright small beer and clean coppers are bad signs of hospitality.''

The usher may also, according to the largeness of the establishment, have many other duties to perform. For instance, in some families he has to assist in brewing, while in others the management of the brewing falls wholly on him. He may have to assist in baking the home-baked bread. In a word, the services of this useful class of servant would be very difficult to dispense with in some famiiles.

The Household Manager, By Charles Pierce, 1857
Third Edition, Revised and Enlarged, 1863

The servants' meals were bound by conventions of etiquette as strict as those observed upstairs. Customs might vary in individual houses, but seating was according to a definite hierarchy. Lower servants knew better than to strike up idle conversation, although the atmosphere became more relaxed when, after the meat course, the upper servants withdrew to the housekeeper's room (sometimes known as 'Pug's Parlour'). Source: Living London,1901


Don't decide the minute you enter a new situation that it doesn't suit you. Pay no attention to any gossip that may be told you. Wait and see for yourself. By so doing you will avoid unnecessary trouble for self as well as your employer.

Don't tell an untruth about your wages. Tell what amount you have received a month when asked by an employer. Falsehood will place you in a very bad position. It is sure to be found out.

Don't be foolish in regard to wearing a cap. It is a great improvement to one's appearance, and is worn by all first-class servants. Be sure to keep the hair tidy.

Don't listen while you are waiting at table - you will probably get things twisted and be tempted to repeat them so.

Don't be always standing on your dignity as to what is and is not " your place " - if you cannot get along go away, but while you are in a house be pleasant.

Don't hide breakage from your mistress, - it will get you into more trouble in the end than if you acknowledge the accident at once.

Don't think your mistress is unbearable because she may sometimes be a little short in her manner, - ladies often have worries and responsibilities of which servants have no idea.

Don't spend your time comparing the ways of one mistress with those of another - each one has a right to her own rules in her own house.

Don't spy on your masters and mistresses - the fact that their bread is in your mouth should be a reason for keeping it shut.

Don't go through your work mechanically - try to notice how people leave things themselves, and put them in that order.

Don't "arrange" the papers on a desk or writing table unless expressly told to; pick them up, dust them, and where they have lain, and put them down in the same place.

Don't be restless and want to move too often - the longer you stay in one place the more likely you are to get a good wedding present or legacy.

Don't, when September comes, be influenced by city friends and give up a good home on account of your employer's remaining in the country until October or November. Girls often do this, and it is a great mistake. They are apt to remain idle two or three weeks, and then are often compelled again to go out of town and amongst strangers.

Don't leave garbage in the pantry from one meal to another. Always keep the sink and pantry clean.

Don't upset the cook by telling her what the family say about her cooking. Leave that for the mistress. If there is any fault to be found it is not so apt to cause trouble if it goes direct to the cook from her mistress.

Don't forget when meats, turkey, and game are served, that sauce or gravy, also the jelly, such as cranberry jelly, etc., should be served before the vegetables.

Don't, when you are cleaning rooms, forget your dusters, broom, and other articles. Look around before you leave the room and take them with you. It is not pleasant to trip over such things.

Don't forget to clean the finger marks from paint when you are cleaning rooms.

Don't forget to clean the bed-springs; they should be cleaned twice a month. Bedroom closets should also be cleaned twice a month.
Mrs. Seely's Manual (Chapters on Domestic Servants), Mrs. L. Seely, 1902