Thursday, January 6, 2022

The Cloak Room ...

 Hi, Kit Morgan here! While researching my most recent book (A Match Made in Heaven) I had to look up a lot of different things about gold mining. My heroine inherits a mine from her uncle and she doesn't know the first thing about mining. Neither do I, for that matter, so that made two of us. But then I have quite a few scene taking place in a ball room and ran across the "cloak room," which back in the day, was another word for ladies bathroom. Later they became what their name implied. But before actual bathrooms, they served multiple purposes.

I've also heard it called "the retiring room" but that term was used more in the regency era. In the victorian cloak room, a maid was always present to empty pots (yes, chamber pots) help women with various things like their hair and other essentials, and of course, help them on with their cloaks, hats, gloves and what not when it came time to leave. Men and women each had their own cloak room and later, bathrooms were often attached. The modern day "ladies lounge" one finds, came from the victorian cloak room and is making a comeback. You don't see them too often anymore. Movie theaters  had them. So did high end department stores.

The victorian bathroom could run large. This was especially true of early victorian bathrooms as they fitted the plumbing into a regular room. This is why you might find an old victorian house with a bedroom containing a toilet. I've seen several before and often wondered, now what on earth could a person use this room for? Like ladies lounges, victorian style bathrooms are making a comeback and they're calling them, you guessed it, a cloakroom!

For the victorians, the bathroom had all sorts of "recipes' for taking a bath and other cleansing rituals. The Columbia Cook Book by Adelaide Hollingsworth (1892) contained pages of bathing rules and rituals. Why were these in a cookbook? Because cookbooks didn't just hold recipes. They contained all sorts of household tips, hygiene advice along with medical advice too.

Until next time,


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