A day in Cess's life as a...

A kitchen servant. Cess would have worn similar clothes although her apron
     covered her skirt but not her bodice.


State-of-the-art kitchen utensils and food preservation methods.
Poultry Girl

This is Cess’s routine six days a week. She is paid on Fridays – 2d (tuppence) a week plus her food. A loaf of bread cost about 1d, three eggs 1d, a meal at an Inn would be 4-6d, to have a tooth pulled was 2 shillings (24d) so Cess’s wages are only just enough to keep her and her mother alive and she depends on the Estate to feed her.

On Sundays she does not have to go to the poultry yards but must attend church or face a fine. Alternate Sundays all children over six are also required to attend religious instruction given by the parish minister – in this case, Ignatius Bartholomew, in order to learn the Ten Commandments, the Creed (the basic statement of Christian belief), the Lord’s Prayer and the Catechism (a series of questions and answers about Christianity). Children who cannot recite the catechism are punished and parents who fail to send their children to Sunday school are prosecuted in the church courts.

Although Cess’s life might seem incredibly hard to us today, she would not have felt alone. About 80% of men and 50% of women in Elizabethan England were servants. About 10% of people in her village would have been even worse off than her – unemployed and unable to sustain themselves, living off ad-hoc charity, particularly orphans, widows, abandoned wives, the elderly or sick and men returning from military service. These people could starve, die of the diseases that accompany starvation or from the deprivations of homelessness – cold, damp and dangerous conditions. In towns, it is estimated that up to 20% of people lived in such poor conditions. If Cess did not have her job in the poultry yard, she too would sink to the very bottom of the social pile.

Click here to learn what a day is like as the
Heiress of the Earl of Montacute