London Mistress Sapphire – The Victorian Governess
In the latter years of the 19th century the Governess was a senior member of every wealthy household. She was a formidable woman who commanded respect, not only from those in her care but also from the household servants and even from her employers.
Often, when the parents or guardians were away, perhaps for months on end when doing the Grand Tour, she was left in complete control of her charges. She exerted her control by liberal application of the dreaded birch (very much a Victorian favourite), leather strap and cane. The young heirs to the greatest estates bared their backsides at her command.
Severe and strict, she was not only concerned with the education of her pupils, but all aspects of their everyday upbringing, enforcing moral standards and values through the most rigid and unbending discipline.
Only after appropriate punishment had been administered were her tearful young charges permitted to see her softer side with a comforting cuddle and a warm smile.