During the middle of Queen Victoria's reign people started to have closed cooking ranges to cook on. This was much better than just boiling a pot on an open fire as people had prior to this time.
But it meant that the range had to be raked out and the wretched thing had to be black-leaded once a week.
I have an old Victorian cookery book which gives instructions on how to clean the kitchen range. It says, "Clean out all the cinders and ashes from the grate. remove the plate-rack, cleaning doors, loose covers of hotplate, firebars and shelves in front of ovens; pass the flue brush into flues in back coveplates, working it well up and down till all soot is loosened and fallen down to the bottom of flues. Put in the back flue dampers and doors .......with a hand-brush sweep all soot right or left off the top of the ovens or side boiler. Push the flue brush down the sides of the ovens.......working it well about to clean the side flues thoroughly.......Take the iron raker and draw out all the soot from the flue beds ..........." and on and on. What a performance!!!
Then it gives instructions for laying the fire and lighting the wretched thing.
As for blackleading you had to first take a piece of alum and stir it in to vinegar, wet the black lead and polish like mad.
Regulating the heat so you could bake or roast was an art in itself. You could test it by seeing if it singed paper or burnt it!!
My old book also gives instructions for cleaning saucepans and starts by saying "scrape any soot off the outside with an old knife......." Compare that with this - our modern hobs and saucepans.
|modern hob and saucepan|
Gas ovens became popular by the end of the century for the better off but were very much seen as a health risk and dangerous.
The 1890s saw the very first electric oven.
When I was first married we lived with my mother in law. Her electric oven was bought in 1939. It took about 15 minutes for a hot plate to warm up (and it only had two of them,) and the oven took about half an hour! Cooking on it was a real nightmare.
So, once again we have reasons to be cheerful!!! and I am grateful to Michelle for allowing me to add this to her blog hop.