Making the bed : the practice, role and significance of housekeeping in the royal bedchambers at Hampton Court Palace 1689-1737
This thesis explores and analyses the practices, role and significance of housekeeping in the royal bedchambers at Hampton Court in the period between 1689 and 1737. Specifically, it seeks to chart contemporary practices of care and maintenance and to situate this work within the context of the rooms that lay at the heart of the late-Stuart and early-Hanoverian courts. A broad range of primary sources have been used to inform the study, in particular the records of the Lord Chamberlain and the Great Wardrobe. These archives are considered in relation to the material culture of the interiors at Hampton Court and are placed within the broader framework of social and political histories of the period. The thesis is divided into two main parts, the first of which explores the context of the royal bedchambers at Hampton Court. Starting with the premise that the practices of housekeeping were shaped by the specific environment in which they operated, it provides an exposition of the dual significance of this area of the palace as a space for magnificent court ceremony and as a retreat for the rituals of royal private life. Developing these findings, the second part of the study discusses housekeeping practices and the servants who undertook this work. In particular, it focuses on the identity, role and status of the lower ranking female servants of the bedchamber department, the Keeper of the Standing Wardrobe and the Privy Lodgings and the craftsmen of the Great Wardrobe. Throughout the discussion of these individuals, and the practices of care and maintenance, is framed by an analysis of the motivations for good housekeeping at court, and the meanings that were ascribed to this work. The research contained within this thesis contributes to our knowledge of the royal bedchambers at Hampton Court, in a key phase of the palace's history. by offering a more complete picture of how these rooms were inhabited by domestic servants as well as the monarch. New light is also shed on the many long periods when Hampton Court lay empty and the spheres of activity that took place in the absence of the court. The findings of this thesis demonstrate the significant role played by housekeeping as an essential underpinning for the use of Hampton Court as a royal home and as a splendid place of court.