Grandmas Gleanings from Newton's Woolsthorpe

Recollections from a Lincolnshire Hamlet By Margaret Anne Winn Published in 1994 Copyright M. A. Winn 1994

This is a collection of stories and facts, recording the childhood of the Robinson children and their way of life growing up in Woolsthorpe in the early 1900's.

Chapter 7 Wash Days

Wash days were hard work. First the copper had to be filled usually on Sunday evening with water either carried from the pond or from the rain butt. Early on Monday morning a fire was lit under the copper to heat the water. Whites were washed first then the rest of the clothes, in big tin baths in the back kitchen such a lot of fetching and carrying all day long. Some things would require starching and gallons of water were used for rinsing. The washing was wrung out by hand until Lizzie got a mangle. Then everyone took turns at turning the huge handle and watching the little ones to see no fingers got between the heavy rollers.

Flat irons were heated over the fire and a great deal of steam was generated when the clothes were not quite dry. They were hung over wooden clothes horses to air. Lizzie always said that even if the washing did not dry outside as long as it had been out in the fresh air it was 'ezzeled' she meant that it smelled fresh. Lizzie was what we would now call a work-aholic, partly through necessity in raising her family and going out to work to earn a few extra shillings to make ends meet, but partly also as she must have had a great empathy for her fellow neighbours, wishing to help them in their sufferings. She was the local midwife, sick visitor and the one who was called upon to nurse the dying, lay out the dead and arrange the funerals. She was often out all night nursing a sick patient or delivering a baby then presumably up all day with her family or at her washing or gleaning no wonder at the age of 65 she was worn out.

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