The Victorian Era roughly corresponded with the reign of Queen Victoria (1837-1901). While the era began with Queen Victoria, the Victorian culture was one that did not confine itself to England, but spread to the United States and the world. The Industrial Revolution played an important part during this time, and its influence was felt in the kitchen as well. This article provides a guide to a Victorian kitchen.
High windows, walls, floors and cleanliness
The ceilings of the Victorian kitchens were tall and the windows of the kitchen were at a height as well. The windows were an important part in the kitchen because they allows in cool air. Otherwise, the heat of the kitchen would have been unbearable. The walls were generally plain. At chair rail height and below were tongue and groove panelling, glazed bricks or tiles that were painted white. Above the chair rail, the walls were painted white and tinged blue with laundry bluing. The white colour was predominate in that it symbolised hygiene and cleanliness. The floors of the kitchen were plain as well. Except for duck boards made of wood where the cook worked, they were made of unglazed tiles or stone slabs. When the domestic servants gathered to prepare and serve the meals, the kitchen could grow rather noisy. Smaller houses might exchange the stole slabs and tiles for hard wood. Cleanliness was achieved by creating a mixture of soda and soft soap for the dishes. Whiting was used to remove grease. Rotten stone and rape oil was mixed to create brass. Tin and washing clothes were cleaned by boiling them in water and a little vinegar.
Though gas-fired stoves were exhibited in 1851 and were available in 1868, they were viewed with suspicion and considered a danger. It was not until 1890s that the gas-fired stove began to be more accepted.
The kitchen was kept only for cooking. This meant that the Victorians set aside a separate room for cleaning food (vegetables), dishes, pots and pans, and anything else involving water was done here. The scullery maid was the one who worked in this room and the cleaners that they used were not gentle to their hands. Even if the house was small, every Victorian house had a scullery. Only after the turn of the century, near the end of the Victorian ear, deep sinks begin to be installed in the kitchen proper.