Best Victorian Home-Keeper Practices For The Modern Woman

Debutantes did not do dishes.

They were taught piano and guided in the art of flirtation. However, once married, they realized their inadequacies. How, in fact, did one manage a household?

“Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management” became an acclaimed necessity, answering all of their questions.

And her insight holds to this day. 


Be Selective In Friendship.

Personal attachments that are rashly formed allow not time for discernment. Only time can establish true character. For it is as Joanna Baillie penned:

“Friendship is no plant of hasty growth,

Though planted in esteem’s deep-fixed soil, 

The gradual culture of kind intercourse 

Must bring it to perfection.” 

Abstain From Speaking Ill Of Your Husband.

Meant to be his most intimate confidant, a wife undermines her own integrity by letting “an account of her husband’s failing pass her lips.” Where is her allegiance? How can a husband trust she’ll come to his defense when she’s his attacker?

Improve the future health of your home with these tips from the past! TwitterLogo_2017

Prioritize Household Tasks.

Chores and errands were divided amongst domestic servants.

There were a great many to share the burden of upkeep. Since the modern budget and real estate doesn’t oft’ afford for a house steward, housekeeper, valet, lady’s maid, butler, under butler, head nurse, cook, upper housemaid, upper laundry-maid, under laundry-maid, maid-of-all-work, under housemaid, the still-room maid, nursemaid, scullery-maid gardener, footman, under footman, coachman, groom, page, and stableboy, a modern woman simply must prioritize and delegate when possible.

Practice Good Charity.

‘Tis the spirit more than the amount which makes the giver.

Should income be restricted, opportunities to serve those less fortunate through cookery, education, and kindness present themselves in many ways.

Shop With Sense & Sensibility.

When purchasing, mind Mrs. Beeton’s guidance for apparel:

I. That it be not too expensive for her purse.

II. That its colour harmonize with her complexion, and its size and pattern with her figure.

III. That its tint allow of its being worn with the other garments she possesses.

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her.”          ~ Proverbs 31:25–28 KJV

Live Within Your Means.

Here, in addressing A Housekeeping-Account Book, Judge Haliburton is quoted. His wisdom: “No man is rich whose expenditure exceeds his means, and no one is poor whose incomings exceed his outgoings.”

Therefore, it is in the home-keepers best interest to organize her finances and budget according to means.

Find Joy In The Common Day.

A mistress of the house sets the tone.

Those around her cannot help but to emulate her mood. In pursuing contentment, it is advised she indulge in hobbies of her taste. After all, “a good housewife does not necessarily imply an abandonment of proper pleasures or amusing recreation; and we think it the more necessary to express this, as the performance of the duties of a mistress may, to some minds, perhaps seem to be incompatible with the enjoyment of life.”

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L0042710 Title page of 'Household Management'What Mrs. Isabella Beeton Kept Quiet. . .

1. At the time of it’s publication, Isabella was 21 years of age and had only been married a year.

2. Part of the manual was dedicated to the etiquette of dealing with domestic servants and included average salaries as well as lists of the duties of which they were responsible.

This information would not be practical to the middle class home-keeper who could not afford a cook or lady’s maid. Nonetheless, the material was intended for domestic fantasies.

3. Included recipes were plagerized with the exception of Useful Soup for Benevolent Purposes which consisted of ox-cheek, brown sugar, an assortment of vegetables, and spices.

Have you home-keeping tips to share? Leave a comment below.

23 thoughts on “Best Victorian Home-Keeper Practices For The Modern Woman

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  1. Never walk from one room to another without first looking if you need to take an item with you to put where it belongs.

    1. These posts are absolutely delightful. I cannot put them down. I have been reading them since last night.

  2. Keep a ‘donation bag’ handy to collect gently used but no longer needed household items ready to fill then call your favorite charity for pick-up as needed.

  3. i have nothing to add, but hello and have a very fine and blessed day………and also just to tell you how very lovely your blog is……….Again, thank you , BJ

  4. My grandma would always say:”if you cannot say anything nice, do not say anything at all.” And; “Pretty is as pretty does.”

    1. Oh, I love those ideas! My dad always said those to me. And, I think he would tell me the one about beauty when I was not being so beautiful! LOL 🙂

  5. Victorian ladies ( and gentlemen) seemed to usually present a ” public face” and a “private or family face “. One behaved in a fairly precisely prescribed manner in front of others and could slightly let down their guard in the privacy of familial settings. It’s nice that we have learned to be more simply ourselves in these ‘modern’ times. Yet maintain the basic morals that have always been a guide to living a good life. Kindness, truth, charity, and doing to others as you would have them do unto you. I hear my mothers voice ( chorused by aunts and grandparents) in all the old adages! Still true today as then! Thank you VT for being there and helping keep the past available for us all!

  6. It Is A Lot Of Truth, In The Statements. Recognize Some My Mom Use To Say. It Was Enjoyable To Read.

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