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A Clean Sweep

A Clean Sweep

A Clean Sweep

A Clean Sweep imageThe onset of warmer weather traditionally means ‘Spring cleaning’. This harks back to earlier times. Drafty castles and more modest dwellings had stone, wooden or dirt floors, with straw or rush mats instead of carpets and livestock living very close by. Shut up against the cold, by the end of winter they were quite smelly places.

Royal households moved from castle to castle so that each could be cleaned out ready for their return. Mats were taken outside and beaten, floors swept out and herbs sprinkled to keep stench away. Dung and midden heaps were removed and mattresses emptied of old straw, bedbugs and lice and new fresh straw put in.

The brush (besom) and carpet beater featured are Victorian but the design has remained the same for hundreds of years. Of course ‘besom’ is an uncomplimentary Scots term for a brazen woman of dubious morals, but nowadays is usually used to describe a cheeky or naughty child.