Thursday, August 29, 2019

A Room With A...Migraine

As you've probably already gathered, I don't always talk about chronology on here. I always mention it in some way, but it doesn't always apply to my subject each time. This is one of those times. I was skimming through The Canon a few days ago and saw something I thought might be interesting to see in a list/blog form. So, let's talk about it.


I was reading 'The Cardboard Box' (CARD) and saw the term dissecting-room. It then occurred to me that I'd seen another similar term in 'The Five Orange Pips' (FIVE) - lumber-room. So, an idea was born: how many different types of rooms are mentioned in the 60 cases? Well, I now know. (I also fear I'm going to make a few mistakes here because this gets a little confusing.)

There are the standards, of course - bedroom (bed room), dining-room, and bath-room. We have others that seem familiar, but may require just a hint of explanation - front room (or lounge or living room), so named because it was near the front of the home. Drawing-room (drawingroom) and sitting-room are actually interchangeable, and were also called withdrawing rooms. (These can also be interchanged for front room, but not as directly.) One could even use the term state-room here, but the difference in terms seems to have been a class or social status thing.

(A pretty standard Victorian sitting-room...if you had some money.)

The dressing-room is pretty self-explanatory, and eventually become the walk-in closet. Dressing-rooms had some furniture in Victorian times, but nowadays in a standard home you'd find a hamper or dresser, though I think the idea of having a room just for getting dressed is not as entrenched as it once was. (The amount of time required for a stately woman to get dressed back then was rather extensive, and I can see why it got more attention than it does today.)

Another one was the morning-room. Now, this one confuses me a bit, so I'm actually lifting an entire paragraph about it from a site ran by one Geri Walton. "A Morning-room was sometimes used as a Parlor or a “more homely Drawing-room.” Morning-rooms tended to be attached directly to Drawing-rooms and were used to relieve Drawing-rooms. In smaller residences, however, the Dining-room usually functioned as the Morning-room and in the evening that room might be superseded by a more formal Drawing-room." (Yeah, I still don't get it.)

(A Victorian drawing-room.)

Piggybacking off of that, I'm going to do the same with breakfast-room. "Breakfast-rooms or Luncheon-rooms were rooms used to serve breakfast or lunch. Breakfast-rooms were found in smaller homes, considered inferior to Morning-rooms, and differed from a Morning-room in that they possessed the character of a Parlor/Dining-room and not a Drawing-room. The Breakfast-room could also relieve the Parlor/Dining-room. Breakfast-rooms were usually attached to Dining-rooms or in close proximity to the Service-room. In small residences, a Breakfast-room might also serve as the family’s ordinary Dining-room." (Makes my head spin.)

Ante-room also appears in The Canon, as does waiting-room (waiting room)...and they're kind of the same thing. The dwelling-room is also called a great room, or fireroom (the room with the fireplace). The lumber-room was not what you think - a place for firewood or old lumber for the fireplace, but a room where excess furniture was stored. Meanwhile, the bar-room is fairly self-explanatory, as is billiard-room (billiard room), smoking-room, and gun-room.

(Probably only a standard billiards room if you were loaded.)

The consulting-room was for doctors or physicians, and housekeeper's room was actually a real name for the...well...housekeeper's room. A lodge room was a room in a lodge, and an engine-room was in a boat. And a dissecting room was in a hospital or amphitheater at a medical school.

Schoolroom needs no help, and a harness-room makes you think of horses...which is correct. A box-room (boxroom) was a term used to describe a small bedroom, and a greenroom is a theater word we've all heard. A strong-room (strongroom) was essentially a vault, a tap-room was a public bar, and a dryingroom was just that - a room for drying clothes.


Now, most of these terms have secondary and tertiary meanings, and can be interchanged with each other and other descriptive words depending on a lot of factors. From a chronological standpoint, one could spend a lot of time researching each of them, finding out the history of their usage and popularity. Once you had all of that, you could apply it to the tricky Sherlockian timeline. Perhaps someone has to a certain degree, but I don't think there's a one-stop shop for it. (I'm not going to say I want to, but I know I'm the kind of person who would.)

One of the hardest things about putting this post together was finding period-correct photographs to use. I was kind of surprised at how many there AIN'T! But, I think I did okay.

September is soon upon us, and we'll keep things going here at Historical Sherlock headquarters. I'll see you on Facebook, and right back here next month. Ta-ta until then, and as always...thanks for reading.