By Mary Davis
Must have a comprehensive knowledge of fashion and changing trends; expertly coif high society lady’s hair; sew, mend, and complete alterations; remove all manner of stains from every kind of fabric, including shoes, handbags, and furs; must be able to keep track of all the lady’s belongings and see to it none of them are out of place or missing; bring a breakfast tray to her mistress’s room or other requested meals; draw a perfect bath; and always, always conduct herself as a lady in all situations.
Basically, a lady’s maid had to be able to do everything. She wore many hats and attended to her mistress’s every need, want, or whim. She was the one person who was allowed in the mistress’s chambers except for cleaning. A chambermaid who came in to dust and clean floors must do so when the mistress was out and should never be seen in the room by the mistress. A high level of trust developed between a mistress and her lady’s maid.
In the series Downton Abbey, they showed the high level of trust between Lady Mary and her lady's maid, as well as the lady's maid being at her mistress's beck and call in this scene.
Lady’s maids enjoyed a somewhat improved social status to other servants but not as high as a lady’s companion. Though a lady’s maid might begin her official work after the rest of the household staff, she is at the beck and call of her mistress, regardless of the hour. She must ensure her mistress’s privacy in everyday situations and on the occasions the mistress falls ill. A lady’s maid’s work is rarely ever done.
A lady’s maid’s day might look something like this:
~Rise early enough to ensure she is up and dressed before her mistress wakes.
~Wake her mistress at a specified time if desired.
~After her mistress’s morning ablutions (washing up), she will help with dressing and doing her hair.
~Once the lady is all put together and has vacated her chambers for the day, the first order of business for the lady’s maid is to air the room by pulling back drapes, opening windows, and drawing apart bed curtains.
~The lady’s maid will then tidy the room by putting away anything that was used for washing up and getting dressed. The room must be returned to its original state, as though nothing had been touched. Clean wash basins, glasses, and water jugs of soap scum and fingerprints. If a stray thread has landed on the carpet, this, too, must be removed.
~She will then wash hair combs, remove stains from clothes, starch any clothing that needs it, and various other duties.
~Next comes the needle and thread work of mending, darning, and other sewing tasks. The lady’s maid must sort through the soiled clothes for anything that needs repair before being sent out to the laundress. She will determine if an article is beyond use so it can be discarded.
~She must also keep meticulous inventory of ALL of her mistress’s pieces of clothing to ensure that everything which is sent out to be cleaned returns. This includes writing up a list of costs on each garment’s upkeep. Being the steward of her mistress’s belongings, she must pay close attention to everything that leaves the room.
~Once her duties are completed, she can improve her mind with reading or spend some time sewing. Her evenings can often be for leisure until her mistress needs to change her clothes or get undressed at the end of the day. Once again, everything must be put to rights. She doesn’t get to sleep until her mistress does.
~Because she is afforded privileges other household staff aren’t and she has the mistress’s ear, she is often the subject of jealously from her peers.
lady’s maid isn’t the simple job it might appear to be at first glance, but
these women have many talents and skills. I don’t think I would have been very good at the job. I would probably get fired the first day.
In The Débutante’s Secret, Geneviève Marseille is in need of a lady’s maid, but they are in short supply in Kamola. Deputy Montana comes to the rescue by suggesting his sister for the job.
***NOW AVAILABLE*** THE DÉBUTANTE'S SECRET (Quilting Circle 4)
Will Geneviève open her heart to a love she never imagined?
Washington State 1894
Geneviève Marseille has one purpose in coming to Kamola—stopping her brother from digging up the past. Deputy Montana has lived a simple life. But when a fancy French lady steps off the train and into his arms, his modest existence might not be enough anymore. A nemesis from Aunt Henny's past arrives in town threatening her with jail. Will she flee as she’d done all those years ago, or stand her ground in the town she’s made her home? When secrets come out, will the lives of Geneviève, Montana, and Aunt Henny ever be the same?