China jug and bowl sets for washing oneself. The jug would be filled
with hot water and taken up to guest bedroom. The guests would pour the
hot water into the bowl and wash themselves. Sometimes the soap dishes and
chamber pots were in matching china.
In the early 1900s when I was a child growing up on the working class
Huxley housing estate of
Victorian-style terraces, it was
not considered reasonable to expect guests to wash in the sink in the
scullery alcove the way that the rest
of the family washed everyday.
So guests had hot water taken up to their
bedroom in an elegantly
decorated china jug - see the picture on the right. A matching basin was in
the room to hold the water on an equally elegant stand. The one in our house had
a marble top which I very much liked.
In more well-off houses, the decorated china jugs and bowls were part of
matching sets which included soap dishes, chamber pots
and shaving jugs. Some were very pretty indeed.
A typical washstand in bedrooms. Note the decorative matching china set of a basin, jug and soap dish. Also note the towel rail and the bucket for slops.
Sketch provided by Rosemary Hampton from
her book: A Jersey Family: from
Vikings to Victorians (2009). SEE
INSIDE THE BOOK.
Our jug and basin set were seldom used for guests though. My mother
used the basin for mixing Christmas
puddings and my father used the jug for making
If a guest
had a bath with us, the copper
had to be lit to provide the hot
water. This then had to be carried upstairs to the
bath in the offroom, where of course there was no running water.