Laundresses by Alex Street

Back row, 2nd and 3rd from the
left - Alice Capon and Daisy Thorpe

Front row, 2nd and 4th from
the left - Mrs Charlotte Thorpe and Mrs Finch

About c.1900

Laundresses - Alex Street

As for the many long gardens, before the war and way beyond, working men's wages were far from adequate to feed his family correctly.   Therefore, most country houses and cottages had long gardens in order to grow as much fruit and vegetable as possible to help them through the  winters.  Most would keep hens, ducks and geese for eggs, and many would have ferrets to hunt rabbits for additional meat for the table - times were very hard and almost unimaginable in this day and age.  We don't realize how well off we are.

Because of the long gardens, washing lines would extend from end to end so that the womenfolk could take in laundry from the big houses, the toffs! - in order to raise a little more money to support their families!  Scrubbing boards and tin-baths would abound, buckets to haul water up from the  wells, and huge coppers in the outhouse to boil their 'Whites' until they were like snow!   There were washing lines out by the Borough bridge on the common land, (now commandeered by subsequent landowners) These were for common use and would look like a ship on the river, as the sheets blew in the wind through the  week!  I suppose this laundry work gradually faded away when the electricity and mains water arrived in the village and washing machines took over,  especially after the war. Few today realise how hard the ladies worked to earn a few extra shillings for their families, they worked from dawn to dusk,  washing, ironing, cooking for big families, slavery was not confined to America!


Alex Street, April 2012