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Downton Abbey Grandeur - Managing the Linen Cupoard

Downton Abbey Grandeur - Managing the Linen Cupoard

To the Edwardian Housekeeper, portrayed so wonderfully by Phyllis Logan as Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey, the charge and care of the Linen Cupboard was as important as managing the food stores.

Great houses such as Downton Abbey would have a Linen Closet made of cedar wood. This closet would have no more than five shelves and would be situated in the middle of the house rather than the basement.

In a gentleman's house, the housekeeper would maintain three pairs of linen sheets and six pillowcases for every member of the family. Irish linen would have been chosen as it was considered best for wear, colour and comfort. It was also renowned for being the most beautiful and improved most with washing. Each person would have twelve towels - eight turkish and four of stong linen huckaback.

For each visitor's room, two pairs of sheets were considered sufficient but they would have been of Irish linen quality. Visitors would have clean sheets each week - a fortnight was considered a reasonable time for all the others in the household!

Every servant would be given two pairs of sheets and three pillow cases. These may have been made of Barnsley Linen (not considered as beautiful as Irish linen) or cotton. Servants would be given four linen huckaback towels.

Instead of modern pillow protectors and duvet covers, the Edwardian housekeeper would organise to cover all pillows and bolsters with cloth or linen which was sewed on. Once a year she would have it picked off and washed. Mattresses and feather beds were covered with an unleached brown linen made to fit and buttoned. Again this was taken off once a year to be cleaned.

Linen sheets are made to last and are often handed down through the generations.

You can capture some of the charm of Downton Abbey with Purple & Fine Linen's Irish Bed Linen and Huckaback towels.

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