The term "bedder" is short for "bedmaker" and is a housekeeper in a college of the University of Cambridge and the University of Durham. The equivalent at the University of Oxford is known as a "scout". There is no equivalent at the majority of other universities, although the work of the "bedder" may in some cases be assumed by domestic staff under a variety of designations including "cleaner" or "janitor". Nowadays, they often change bed linen, vacuum the rooms, empty bins and perform other domestic services, but their role varies from college to college. Some do not make beds at all, but others go so far as to take care of their students' washing up.

Allegedly, there was once a "Bedder Test", which every applicant had to pass in order to qualify for the post. Until the late Victorian age, women were not allowed to become undergraduates, and there were even regulations preventing Fellows from marrying, and so the "Bedder Test" was there to make sure that the prospective bedders were of "an appearance, bearing and position" as to leave them "beyond suspicion" in any "impropriety". An edict of the University of Cambridge issued in 1635 banned bedders aged under fifty, although this policy has long since been abandoned.


  • Frank Stubbings, Bedders, Bulldogs and Bedells: a Cambridge Glossary, ISBN 0-521-47978-9

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