Want to change the way you think about fabric conditioner forever? Look no further than the work of wool fullers, who used to soften their cloth using bodily waste.
Arming squires were in charge of keeping a knight’s armour up to scratch, even while he was using it.
Spoiler alert: being a pure finder was nowhere near as clean as it sounds.
Well, it turns out that leech collectors did exactly what you’d expect them to do for a living.
Nit-picking is mostly used to refer to someone who’s overly picky these days, but back in Stuart England it was a real profession!
Ever looked down the back of your sofa for some misplaced coins? Well, the work of a tosher was basically a far grosser version of that (if you replace ‘sofa’ with ‘sewer’ and sub ‘coins’ for ‘rags and scrap metal’, that is).
The work of a plague bearer was pretty much exactly as grim as it sounds.
If you were a social-climber in the royal court of England, you probably aspired to attain the coveted position of the groom of the stool one day (even though the job itself was literally crap).
Want to reach heaven after death without having to worry about those pesky lil’ sins holding your soul back? Well, folks in the 18th century had a solution – your loved ones could hire the local sin eater to absorb all your wrongdoings.
Your 3pm slump has nothing on the drowsiness that lime burners faced after spending hours extracting carbon monoxide from rocks.
Rag and bone men would collect pretty much anything that people didn’t want to keep (and I mean anything).
If the prospect of going on a treadmill sounds torturous to you, imagine having to stay on it for hours at a time to grind corn or mill water that you’ll never even use. That was the reality for Victorian treadmillers!
Resurrectionists, or body snatchers, worked as the grimmest home delivery service you can imagine.
Herring girls were groups of women who travelled along the coast of Britain, following the migration of herring to help trawlermen preserve and prepare their catch.
Forget about finding a needle in a haystack – oakum pickers used to have to unravel entire ropes in search of specific fibres.
Petardiers certainly kicked off their careers with a bang – the position involved placing heavy, fragile bombs as close to your enemy defences as possible.
The process of turning deceased pharaohs and other nobility from corpses to mummies was considered sacred, but it definitely wasn’t for the faint hearted!
Feel like you deal with a lot of crap at work? Try telling that to a gong farmer.
Victorian London was awash with rats, so it makes sense that catching them became a full-time profession for some.
Hat tip to Henry Mayhew’s incredible 1851 book, London Labour and the London Poor, for many of these facts. The book is in the public domain – you can view it by clicking here!