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I'm Dr Annie Gray, I'm a food historian but I also worked here at Audley End for many
years alongside the various Avis Crocombes. I wore clothing just like that of Mrs Crocombe
in the Victorian Way videos but that clothing was in itself modelled on the very clothing
that people at the time would have worn and that's what we're going to look at today.
Let's start with the basics: underwear. The first thing that Mrs Crocombe would have put
on in the morning were her drawers and then her stockings which were held up with garters.
Elastic of course hadn't yet been invented. Then Mrs Crocombe would have put her boots
on because it's very very hard to put your boots on after you've put your corset on,
trust me! So here were have boots, and then this which is called a chemise. It essentially
is a sort of night shirt affair, made out of linen which was very very absorbent so
that all the sweats and all of the various bodily fluids that were inevitably being pumped
out in the heat of the kitchen would be absorbed by the linen. It was washable, it would take
a lot of hard punishment as well. Then on top of the chemise, as you can see, Mrs Crocombe's
corset, the fundamental foundation garment of the Victorian woman. The corset's construction
for Mrs Crocombe is fairly simple. If Mrs Crocombe had been Lady Crocombe, or Lady Braybrooke
for example, her corset would have changed much much more throughout the decades of the
Victorian era, following fashion. Those people like Mrs Crocombe who were below stairs though
tended not to shift their figure in line with prevailing fashion quite so much. Down here
at the front you have a thing called a busk which tends to be of metal and is very very
tough. This gives you this nice smooth figure at the front, and then you've got whale bone
all the way around the sides. You can buy plastic substitutes for whale bone, and that's
what this one is constructed with. If we turn it round briefly you can see the way it works.
There is a set of laces up the back, these stay laced all the time. And then at the front
you've got these ties, these fasteners. The big advantage of an arrangement like this
is that a woman like Mrs Crocombe could have done up her own corset. Naturally Mrs Crocombe
didn't have anyone to help her dress but she could have got into this very quickly and
easily by herself. Next up we need to add some bulk. The Victorian figure in the 1880s
was one which had quite a wide hemline, again with working class women the basic figure
didn't change that much throughout a lot of the Victorian period. Crinolines for example
which came in for the upper classes in the 1850s which were big wire cages, were often
forbidden for use in the kitchens. Mistresses of grand houses didn't want their cooks looking
like they did. Some women wore many petticoats perhaps starched or with lots of pleats. This
is a very practical alternative. Our Mrs Crocombe does have to operate in the modern world and
get changed very quickly and do it all by herself often under stressful circumstances,
so this is the kind of permissible cheat which women at the time possibly would have used
and certainly is very very useful when you're interpreting history and food for the public.
You'll note that nearly everything ties up. It's a very practical solution. Buttons burst,
hooks come undone, but a tie like that is very very secure, will stay done up and is
very easy to do up as well. And more importantly perhaps, at the end of a 14 hour work day
it's very easy to just let it all drop to the floor, spring open your corset and breathe
a sigh of relief as you crawl into bed. Once this very simple petticoat is on it's time
to put the outer layer on: the gown. In houses like this there were not in the 1880s necessarily
uniforms for staff apart from those that appeared in front of guests: housemaids, butlers and
livery for the footmen. Below stairs in areas like this though where servants were not seen
it was much more common to have something like a print that perhaps the lady of the
house would give to her servants at Christmas as their Christmas gift to make into their
gowns. We know that sometimes zones were colour-coded as well. The reason for this was not just
because it looked pretty, but also so that the senior servants, the butler, the housekeeper
or Mrs Crocombe the cook, could look out of their window and immediately identify any
member of staff who was where they shouldn't be. This gown does up with a mixture of the
Victorian favourite, the hook and eye, and buttons. Because Mrs Crocombe was the cook,
and therefore of rather higher status than her maids, it also has a level of detail that
you might not find if you were to look at the maids' gowns. For example, she has this
rather sweet lace collar which could be removed and washed separately. Very very important
to always think about the practicality of washing. One of the biggest bugbears in women's
fashion today is that things don't have pockets. Well, Mrs Crocombe being a woman of some means
has put a pocket in her dress. She might use it for example to keep her spectacles in.
Finally of course Mrs Crocombe always wears a cap, as indeed did many other women. Certainly
lower status women would always tie their hair up. Her hair which would have been relatively
long would have been centre-parted, taken back behind her ears and then tied in a bun
at the back of her head. That bun was very important as it meant that the cap would stay
on with judicious use of a hairpin. Once more, the number of pleats on the cap reflects Mrs
Crocombe's status as the cook. If you were to look at one of the lower maids, they probably
wouldn't have quite as many pleats, certainly not as carefully sewn and not as well starched.
The final thing Mrs Crocombe needs is something all cooks keep in their belts at all times
in the kitchen: a handy cloth, again made of absorbent linen and again very washable.
It's absolutely vital in a 19th century kitchen like this because these cloths not only act
as general wiper-uppers and hand towels, but also as oven gloves. It's doubly vital when
working as our Mrs Crocombe does in an environment which is conserved like this. Spills of red
wine on the floor or things that are inappropriate on surfaces need to be wiped up as quickly
as possible, so from a practical point of view a cloth like this is vital because it
means that smears of choc-ices on furniture and cherries up the wall can be removed as
soon as possible so that we can continue to preserve this Victorian kitchen for future
generations. Excellent. Mrs Crocombe is dressed and ready to go!
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The Real Mrs Crocombe | Part Four: A Victorian Cook's Outfit

23 分類 收藏
Summer 發佈於 2020 年 6 月 8 日
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