The 1877 inventory of Sambourne House, the comfortable middle class English house of Punch cartoonist Edward Linley Sambourne and his wife Marion, reveals that they had 66 upright chairs.
There were 10 in the dining room, 12 in the drawing room, 10 in the best bedroom, 10 in the day nursery, and the rest were distributed among the other rooms.
Can you imagine having 10 guests sitting around in your bedroom having a nice chat? People certainly did behave differently over 100 years ago.
Does your Victorian dollhouse have enough upright chairs?
Another unusual amount of an everyday thing in Mrs. Sambourne's house, unusual to us 21st century folk, but not to Mrs. Sambourne's contemporaries, is the number of framed photographs displayed on the walls. Just for starters, she had 35 in the rear hall, and 94 on the staircase.
The Sambournes lived at 18 Stafford Terrace in London. There are two rooms on each floor, and the staircase rises from the back of the hall. Bathrooms and lavatories are off the half landings.
The Stafford house has 5 stories, including the basement, where the kitchens and servants' quarters are located. The dining room and study are on the ground floor. The main entertaining rooms are on the first floor (2nd floor to Americans) the main bedrooms on the next floor, children and the nursery quarters above that. Servants rooms were on the top floor. Generally, female staff would sleep there, and manservants would sleep in the basement.
Today Sambourne House is a museum. The house is decorated the way it was in Marion Sambourne's time. Her son inherited it in 1914 and left it practically unchanged till his death in 1946. The house continued to be owned by the family for some time thereafter who continued the preservation.
You can see a video which features a partial tour of the house and people who lived in it here. You'll see that huge array of photographs on the walls.
I've found some more pictures online. They include the front of the house, the front hall, the drawing room, and a bedroom.
If you'd like to find out more, you can read A Victorian Household by Shirley Nicholson, based on the diaries of Marion Sambourne.
Since I started this post with the 1877 Sambourne inventory, here's another item from the same year.
Edward, Prince of Wales, son of Queen Victoria and future king, was living in Marlborough House in 1877.
At that time he had 88 servants, 29 were women, 59 were men. Of the men, 17 had no where to sleep because the house was overcrowded. The poor fellows without beds to sleep in were a page, a piper, a cook, a cook's apprentice, a valet, the prince's brusher, a cellar man, 2 under butlers, 2 pantry assistants, an usher of the hall, 2 lamp men and 3 coal porters.
I assume the brusher was the man who brushed the prince's clothes and kept them clean. Where did they sleep? Well, normally they'd roll out a mattress or some blankets and sleep on the floor in the basement.
When servants of overnight visitors came to stay they had to be boarded out in neighboring houses.
Eventually, the indoor and outdoor staff increased to 120.
This also from the book Victorians at Home by Susan Lansdun......
The Marlboro House basement was always blocked with boxes and cases of glass, china and empty boxes, and when balls were held, all the furniture in the drawing rooms and dining rooms had to be taken to the upholsterers for storage. The only storage room in the house had been turned into a drying closet. All the linen in the house was dried in front of a small fire .
In the 18880’s the 3 princesses still occupied the same small room they had slept in when they were little girls. when the eldest princess went to a party she had to dress in her maid's room, which was also shared by another maid. The passage to the princesses bedroom was also blocked by boxes and wardrobes.
Not exactly the picture you have in mind of a royal residence, is it?
To find out a whole lot more about Victorian homes, visit my Victorian blog, Victorian Interiors and More.