cakeordeath44 (cakeordeath44) wrote in little_details,

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Servants and Domestic Violence in Edwardian Britain

My protagonist is a kitchen maid in 1912 in a big country house. I want her to witness the lady of the house being beaten by her husband, and doing something to stop it.

My questions are as follows:

1. She was a scullery maid before, and this is her first position as a kitchen maid; her ultimate ambition is to become a cook. I saw that twenty was the average for a kitchen maid, but is that still the case in a big, important house out in the country?

2. My plan is that because the cook is ill, and housekeeper and other kitchen staff are crazy busy with preparations for Christmas, my MC is the one charged with going up and asking the lady of the house to clarify whether the jelly will be green or red or both (or whatever). But before she can walk into to the LotH's sitting room (I think that would be the right term?) she hears the MotH attacking her, very violently. Is my MC going up there feasible? I can slightly fudge it in that everyone is building up to Christmas, and because there is a bug going round things are a bit hectic, but I am missing something obvious that makes it out of the question.

3. How would this be taken by the police if a servant went to tell them about the man being a domestic abuser? This is the first time he has, to her knowledge, beaten her, but it is a poorly hidden secret that he is an unpleasant man generally, and emotionally abusive of his wife (subtly putting her down in public etc).

4. If the police thing doesn't work out, maybe she could write to the LotH's brother? How would that be received?

Terms searched: (variations upon the theme of) servants early twentieth century england age promotions, etiquette talking to the mistress of the house cook early twentieth century, how would the police react to a servant early twentieth century, servants spousal abuse, Edwardian spousal abuse, servants' etiquette (which is all about how things should be, but not how they probably were) etc

Thanks so much in advance! A lot of questions, indeed.
Tags: 1910-1919, uk: history (misc), ~servants/slaves

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