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There’s no need for that Scullery.

Updated: Feb 9, 2023

As you all know, the other day was Christmas so there was a lot of cooking which needed to be done, I began to think about how some of the rooms in our houses have changed in their size, use and meaning.

I shall use the kitchen as the example.

Kitchens in medieval times were generally fairly small rooms, which you would assume the owner had never set foot in, let alone actually prepared any meals in! There would usually be a smaller room near the kitchen, called the ‘Scullery’. This room would have a deep sink in it, which all of the dishes, utensils and cutlery were washed and stored in, and then they would be brought back out the next time that they were needed. The amount which could be accumulated from one meal was astounding. One meal for 6 people could easily generate 145 pieces of washing up as an average amount. (I’ll bet that a dishwasher would have come in handy back then!). They also used the Scullery to wash their clothes too, whereas a large percentage of us now have a washing machine in the kitchen or utility room for that.

Back then, the kitchen was purely functional – used exclusively for cooking in, and not a lot else. If you were to trace the word “kitchen” back to its very first origin (which I believe may be Latin) it literally means ‘cook’, so it makes sense that this was the only activity which took place in this room.

But if you look at many houses now, then you’ll come to find that the kitchen is seen in a very different light nowadays.

Architects are asked more and more often to create large kitchen spaces when working on people’s homes because it has taken on different functions over time. As opposed to being used only for cooking, we now use it to wash the utensils, dishes, clothes and anything else which we use, entertaining guests and general socialising too. Very different to what they would have done back in the day.

Due to the fact that the kitchen has become so multi-purpose, we no longer have any need for a Scullery to separate tasks like washing up utensils, or washing clothes etc. It’s all done in the kitchen.

Written by Jade Turney – Building Tectonics Ltd.

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