bawdy house

It is laughable....

God forbid that Elsie Hughes has a chuckle at the absolutely ludicrous thought that Mrs. Patmore be even remotely thought of as the owner of a house of ill repute.  That this fine woman, of sterling character, be considered a purveyor of the sex trade is laughable. Rosamund explains it clearly: “What an unlikely bawdy house madam.” And that is why is it funny.  Elsie and the rest of them aren’t laughing at Mrs. Patmore, they are laughing at the ridiculousness of the notion that she is even mixed up in this mess being the fine woman that she is.

 And may I point out that Elsie comes to her defense when the photographer tries to snap a picture of them entering the cottage and calms her when she’s so upset.  The family repays her for her service by going to the cottage to have tea, so if they were being cruel no one would have given two thoughts more about this.

Bawdy House in 17th Century England

The 1668 Bawdy House Riots took place in London following repression of a series of annual Shrove Tuesday attacks against brothels.

Samuel Pepys records the events in his Diary 24th to 25th March mentioning that they were perceived as an anti-Royal demonstration of working class apprentices centre on Moorfields with echoes of the Puritanism of the Cromwellian era and specifcally targeted at the immoral behaviour of King Charles II and his court, who had been engaged with a series of extra-marital affairs with high profile courtesans, noting; “ how these idle fellows have had the confidence to say that they did ill in contenting themselves in pulling down the little bawdy-houses, and did not go and pull down the great bawdy-house at Whitehall.”

Madam Creswell (died circa 1698), Bawd and brothel keeper

By G. Barrett 1688

Madam Creswell was one of the most notorious brothel-keepers of the late 17th century. Her success allowed to her to maintain two houses in the city and one in the country, at Camberwell. Due to her political sympathies, not to mention her client list, Creswell had considerable influence. She counted no less a person than the Chamberlain of London amongst her friends.