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 Post subject: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2019, 22:08 
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Having Miss Annersley for Civics
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Of course, it's one of those things that one reads over/ round as a child, and practicalities were probably not among EMBD's priorities, but the laundry requirements of the CS must have been considerable, if not actually horrendous, especially in the Swiss years when the school was at its largest. I wonder which of us has experienced sheets sewn sides-to-middle, or 'humped' mattresses? Were Austrian and Swiss pillows different shapes/ sizes to UK ones? That might well have caused problems during the war.

And Matey must surely have ground her teeth at the revival of sheets-and-pillowcases parties!


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2019, 23:03 
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Eustacia whinges about the pillows - were they foam instead of feather? Or maybe it was feather instead of foam!

The sheets and pillowcase parties would have driven me mad, as well. They weren't allowed to sew anything, OK, but they made all the costumes with pins. So, as well as getting everything creased and dirty, they'd have made loads of little holes in the material.

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 18 Jan 2019, 23:28 
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I have certainly experienced sides-to-middle sheets, humped mattresses and in addition hospital corners....

The rule for us in the 1950's at boarding school was that your bottom sheet went to the laundry each week, to be replaced by the top sheet, which in turn was fresh each week. We had blankets, not feather beds and our pillows were feather filled. I think cotton wadding was also used for pillow filling.

I don't remember seeing any foam filled pillows in my childhood. I have just been trying to find a date for when they came into general use but without success.

Since continental pillows are a different size from British ones nowadays (and differ from country to country as well) I imagine that was the case then too.

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 19 Jan 2019, 00:13 
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I've checked now, and it was the feather bed that upset Eustacia, not the pillows :lol: . She was complaining that they didn't have mattreses. So when did the mattresses and the humping thereof come into it? I'm trying to think if that was just in the Swiss books or if it was mentioned earlier.

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 19 Jan 2019, 02:39 
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You're right, Alison - there are references to mattresses in Tyrol, but no mention of humping them. That appears in the English period, and continues to Switzerland.

I don't think the buildings in Tyrol had central heating, though, so they probably needed the feathers to keep them warm in winter. England was much warmer, and by the Swiss days they had radiators and central heating of some sort.

Feathers sound really uncomfortable as a mattress, though - they squish down to nothing. And they'd need something else for summer, wouldn't they?

Laundry wise, would they have sent the washing out to a professional service? Because washing for a hundred or more people, in the days before machines, would have been a monumental task.

Regarding different sizes - you can squish pillows into off sized cases. Mattresses are also different sizes in different countries, which is an issue for fitted sheets and some bed frames.

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 19 Jan 2019, 15:53 
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I thought Eustacia objected to the feather-filled plumeau as she thought it insanitary and threw it off every night until Matey found out and sewed it to a blanket. They must have had mattresses.


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 19 Jan 2019, 20:33 
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jennifer wrote:

I don't think the buildings in Tyrol had central heating, though, so they probably needed the feathers to keep them warm in winter. England was much warmer, and by the Swiss days they had radiators and central heating of some sort.


They may not have had central heating but they almost certainly had the big tiled woodburning stoves in the corner of each room which power out heat.

And they probably also had some version of the double windows that you still see in Czech houses today, thus eliminating the draughts that one got (we still get in ours since there is only single glazing) in British houses.

From my experiences in a British boarding school in the fifties I would be prepared to lay money on it that despite the external temperatures in both Austria and Switzerland being much lower, indoors it would have been much more comfortable than in Britain at that time....

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 19 Jan 2019, 21:06 
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One of the early Swiss books mentioned that they'd thought of getting central heating put in, but Gaudenz had objected ... and insisted on carrying on getting up at about 4 o'clock every morning to light the stoves! EBD seems to have had a bee in her bonnet about people being resistant to change: I know that a lot of people are, but I can't imagine that Gaudenz was quite that desperate to carry on getting out of bed in the middle of the night, especially in winter :lol: . I think they had central heating put in later on, though.

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 19 Jan 2019, 23:15 
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Yes, there's an episode in one of the Swiss books where Matey dishes out hot milk and extra blankets in the early hours because the boiler's failed (or something similar) and the radiators have gone cold.

Another point I can't place for the moment, apart from its being in a Swiss book (Ruey?), is Con (I think) exclaiming that their plumeaux must be similar to the bedding said to have been used to smother the 'Princes in the Tower' (Edward V and Richard, Duke of York). My own limited experience of plumeaux was that they were particularly solid, and apparently made from foam rubber (this was in the late 60s), whereas what EMBD would have experienced would presumably have been of feathers or other natural materials.


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 00:10 
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Alison H wrote:
The sheets and pillowcase parties would have driven me mad, as well. They weren't allowed to sew anything, OK, but they made all the costumes with pins. So, as well as getting everything creased and dirty, they'd have made loads of little holes in the material.


I thought they mustn't either cut or pinned but must be sewn as needed.

As for English boarding-schools in the early 1960s in winter - spare me! Unheated dormitories, with ice on the insides of the windows. Getting dressed in the mornings - you can't imagine the utter ghastliness of putting on an icy cold bra! We used to sleep with our underwear in our beds to keep it warm! At least we were allowed hot-water bottles, though - something that at home had been reserved for illness only.

I thought plumeaux and duvets were the same thing?


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 00:14 
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Noreen wrote:
My own limited experience of plumeaux was that they were particularly solid, and apparently made from foam rubber (this was in the late 60s), whereas what EMBD would have experienced would presumably have been of feathers or other natural materials.

My mother didn't manage to get many things across from Czechoslovakia in the brief period between the end of the war and the Communist takeover in 1948 but apart from her much-loved books (which I still possess and indeed can now understand) she shipped over three double plumeaux. These were not duvets as we now know them. They were made of a light velvet material, a dark rose pink, filled with goose down, and you buttoned on a sheet which folded over the top. The sheets had beautiful hand-made lace edgings...I remember them well.

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 00:56 
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Mrs Redboots wrote:
I thought plumeaux and duvets were the same thing?
No, the Swiss one I slept under weighed much more than a duvet and was quite stiff, to the extent that my classmates were puzzled by them, and what you did with them - perfect excuse for me to say smugly "Nothing - those are plumeaux", being a typical mid-teenager.


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 04:14 
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My mother-in-law who was very thrifty did sides-to-middle sheets. I seem to remember when I was first married there were some still knocking about that she had given Phil in his single days.

We had no central heating until 1979 and I remember ice and frosty patterns inside the windows. I went to hotels a few times in the mid to late seventies in the winter for short breaks and the lovely warm rooms were bliss.

Especially in the later Swiss days and even the later Austrian years the laundry must have been horrendous. Would they have changed sheets as often in these days as we do now? Does anybody know if they would have had washerwomen when in Austria or would it have gone out to some sort of laundry? I wonder what they did in Switzerland?


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 07:53 
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They have big washtubs in the British books, because they use them for boat races - I'm sure Karen was absolutely delighted about having to clean seaweed and other muck out of them afterwards :banghead: - and there's a mention of washing machines in one of the Swiss books, so it sounds as if most of it was done in-house.

In New House, Frieda tells Jo that she'll have to send her grass-stained skirt to "the good sisters". That always makes me think of Magdalene laundries :roll: , but I assume EBD meant that there was a convent nearby which took in washing, but maybe that was just for badly-stained stuff?

I appreciate that clothes weren't changed as often as they were now, but all the clothing, bed linen, towels, table linen, etc etc for girls plus staff would still have meant a huge amount of laundry.

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 11:23 
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In the fifties and sixties, we sent sheets, towels and tablecloths to a laundry every week. The hotels around the Tiernsee would have needed a laundry serrvice to cope with all their needs so there were probably several comercial laundries nearby for the school to use.

South Acton was known as Soapsud Island due to the number of small laundries in the area. Some were still going when I worked in the area in the late seventies.


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 14:39 
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cestina wrote:
I don't remember seeing any foam filled pillows in my childhood. I have just been trying to find a date for when they came into general use but without success..


Foam pillows started appearing in the 1950s but didn't make it into mainstream use until the 1970s

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They have big washtubs in the British books, because they use them for boat races - I'm sure Karen was absolutely delighted about having to clean seaweed and other muck out of them afterwards


These were borrowed from other people.


And EBD was incorrect about "plumeaux". The plural is, in fact "plumeaus"


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 16:57 
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I always wondered what 'plumeaux' were when I read the books! It wasn't until a few years ago that I finally realised I could look it up on the internet and I was enlightened.

It wasn't a term I ever learnt in secondary school French :D

I always wonder about the laundry of clothing, let alone bedclothes, at the CS. With all the staff and girls, there must have been an awful lot of washing to contend with. I can't imagine it being done on site, but on the Platz, in the bad weather, how on earth would they get it down to Wengen / Interlaken, or manage if they couldn't send it anywhere.


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 18:12 
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In the mid sixties at college we had spin dryers in our kitchens, so presumably they would have had them on the Platz in the fifties for drying the washing, if they had places up there for doing this type of work, and certainly machines for washing. I'm sure they staggered the laundry, so only so much would go each week - say three dorms each week and some of staff stuff. The uniforms wouldn't be washed, except the blouses ) and underwear) - we wore our tunics and blazers etc all term and only had them cleaned in the holiday in the fifties. Different times! :D I'm sure we all smelled more than we realised. But that was then!

I do wonder if the staff sent their suits, skirts, jackets etc for dry cleaning somewhere, as you could hardly wash a lot of those.

And yes, at home we turned the sheets and stitched them down the middle.

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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 18:17 
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Weren’t there several pensions around? The C.S. probably shared services with them, and maybe the San...


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 Post subject: Re: Beds and Bedding
PostPosted: 20 Jan 2019, 21:56 
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Coming late to this but:

Very early references to mattresses in the Austrian books almost seem to refer to camping mattresses (e.g. they are put out for rest period, during the flood in Jo of, the actual beds are moved so mattresses can be put between them, Grizel is carried back on one after Deira throws the stone). The mention of mattresses being laid out when the girls are going around the room in gym (mentioned in New House) seems to support this idea.

The earliest reference to what we would consider normal mattresses when, in Princess, 'Elisaveta thudded into her nest as if she meant to go through the mattress'. Then, in Head Girl, after Cornelia puts the sponges in the beds, her punishment includes this description:

Quote:
The mattresses were to be hung over the balcony; the clothes to be carried downstairs, and spread out on the playing-field. Finally, the mattresses were to be put into fresh covers, and Cornelia was to do it.


Bobcat wrote:
I always wondered what 'plumeaux' were when I read the books! It wasn't until a few years ago that I finally realised I could look it up on the internet and I was enlightened.

It wasn't a term I ever learnt in secondary school French :D


You might have come across 'plumeau', although that actually translates to 'feather duster'. That perhaps gives a clue that EBD meant bedding among the Austrian books to be what the English would call 'feather ticks' (more details here). This would explain Eustacia's horror, and also the idea of hanging the mattress over the balcony, which would be a challenge in mattresses with springs or even horse-hair (Cornelia would be unlikely to be able to move them that easily). It probably also explains EBD's emphasis on turning the beds, as this was very necessary for feather ticks to keep the feathers fresh.

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