Creating Burberry’s Boarding House #amwriting #books

Fraser's rooms floorplan
My floor plan for Burberry’s boarding house

When I sent The Bully Trap to my beta reader, some of her questions told me that I needed to be clearer in my own mind about the layout of Fraser and Spencer’s rooms. So I did some research about mid-Victorian London homes, and found complete plans for a row house, drawn in 1865.

The plan I modified was for a mid-row townhouse; I imagine Burberry’s house to be an end unit, which would have been wider. (I imagine Fraser’s sitting room as wider than shown.) But look how large it is! Although I didn’t find a scale (how many inches equals how many feet) you can see that it had room for two carriages and stabling for four horses—in other words, a “two-car garage.” Also, it was fitted out with the latest modern conveniences—flush toilets (which imply a steady piped water supply) and gaslights. Hot water would have been on tap from “geysers” (pronounced GEEzers, gas-fired appliances) anyplace it was wanted. Upstairs rooms for the family had full baths, which would almost certainly have had a geyser installed in each.

The full plans show five floors in the main house, two floors in the carriage house, and a full basement extending from beneath the street in front to under the carriage house. In addition to large bedrooms enough to house at least three generations of family, there were servants’ quarters for ten or more.

Mrs Burberry would certainly have converted almost every square foot in the family areas to accommodate lodgers. Fraser’s apartment, with its connection to the floor above, would have been particularly spacious—and expensive.

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