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On Gallifrey, the Housekeeper was the medium between the Great Houses of the Time Lords and the Family therein. Because the Great Houses were alive and sentient, one woman of each Family assumed the role of Housekeeper and would be literally married to the House. It then became her job to keep the House happy and healthy. The Housekeeper was the only member of the Family who could literally speak with the House. Her position allowed her to command the furniture and Drudges of the House, and also granted her the ability to see through all the mirrors in the House (similar to security cameras). The role of the Housekeeper went hand-in-hand with (but should not be confused with) the role of the Kithriarch.
The position of the Housekeeper lasted through regenerations, and was signified (not unlike Earth marriages) by a plain wooden ring. During the ceremony which bonded the Housekeeper to a House, the Housekeeper must make the following vow:
- I shall serve you might and main, mortar and mortice.
- I shall guard your bounds, your chattels and your progeny from Loom to Tomb.
Usually the position of Housekeeper would pass on to another member of the Family only when the first Housekeeper died for the thirteenth and final time. However, the position could be passed on before death if the current Housekeeper did something to cause the House to lose trust in her. Then the ring marking her would burn away to ash, and the furniture and Drudges would no longer obey her.
One example of this extreme behaviour occurred in the House of Lungbarrow, when the Housekeeper Satthralope lied to the House concerning the murder of the Kithriarch. In order to convince the House to believe the lie, Satthralope had to convince herself. (PROSE: Lungbarrow)