The Housekeeper's Tale

The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House

Author: Tessa Boase

Publisher: Aurum Press Limited

ISBN: 1781312680

Category: History

Page: 336

View: 9269

Working as a housekeeper was one of the most prestigious jobs a nineteenth and early twentieth century woman could want – and also one of the toughest. A far cry from the Downton Abbey fiction, the real life Mrs Hughes was up against capricious mistresses, low pay, no job security and gruelling physical labour. Until now, her story has never been told. The Housekeeper’s Tale reveals the personal sacrifices, bitter disputes and driving ambition that shaped these women’s careers. Delving into secret diaries, unpublished letters and the neglected service archives of our stately homes, Tessa Boase tells the extraordinary stories of five working women who ran some of Britain’s most prominent households. There is Dorothy Doar, Regency housekeeper for the obscenely wealthy 1st Duke and Duchess of Sutherland at Trentham Hall, Staffordshire. There is Sarah Wells, a deaf and elderly Victorian in charge of Uppark, West Sussex. Ellen Penketh is Edwardian cook-housekeeper at the sociable but impecunious Erddig Hall in the Welsh borders. Hannah Mackenzie runs Wrest Park in Bedfordshire – Britain’s first country-house war hospital, bankrolled by playwright J. M. Barrie. And there is Grace Higgens, cook-housekeeper to the Bloomsbury set at Charleston farmhouse in East Sussex for half a century – an era defined by the Second World War. Revelatory, gripping and unexpectedly poignant, The Housekeeper’s Tale champions the invisible women who ran the English country house.

The Housekeeper's Tale - Sarah Wells's Story

The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House

Author: Tessa Boase

Publisher: Aurum Press Limited

ISBN: 1781314152

Category: Country homes

Page: 48

View: 9954

This is Sarah Wells’s story, one of the five stories that make up The Housekeeper’s Tale. Mrs Wells was bad at accounts, bad at managing her girls, ill experienced in buying stores and economising – and this was only the opinion of her son, the writer H. G. Wells. Despite this accepted view of her housekeeping abilities, Sarah Wells managed to maintain her tenure at Uppark, West Sussex, for 13 years, having arrived in 1880. It was during this half of the nineteenth century that was the era of wealth creation for the Victorians: the railway age. Presiding over a home where the master of the house had married the estate dairymaid, this transition from downstairs to upstairs was most unusual and risked sending the household into chaos. What followed was positively stranger than fiction, as her own son expressed in some of his published works.

The Housekeeper's Tale - Ellen Penketh's Story

The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House

Author: Tessa Boase

Publisher: Aurum Press Limited

ISBN: 1781314144

Category: Country homes

Page: 48

View: 3980

This is Ellen Penketh’s story, one of the five stories that make up The Housekeeper’s Tale. Erddig – or Erthig, to the Welsh – was an anchor in a fast-changing world. For five years it was home to Ellen Penketh, whose infamy remains in the estate’s archives as ‘the thief cook’. In 1907 the Yorke family were caught up in a very public scandal – a scandal that did deep and profound damage to their patriarchal belief in staff loyalty. Mrs Penketh’s tenure before this domestic unraveling bore all the signs of a long and most successful one and tells the tale of a women who was cherished for her Charlotte russe and even, initially, held a close relationship with her mistress. Just how this significant fall from grace came about is one that remains shrouded in mystery, but its impact was laid bare for all to witness.

The Housekeeper's Tale - Dorothy Doar's Story

The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House

Author: Tessa Boase

Publisher: Aurum Press Limited

ISBN: 1781314136

Category: Country homes

Page: 48

View: 5940

This is Dorothy Doar’s story, one of five stories that make up The Housekeeper’s Tale. As one of the cabal that ran the estate of the Duke of Sutherland, this is an evocative and poignant story providing a moving insight into the life of a woman whose life was lost amongst account books and inventories. Her defining moment is that she was a housekeeper who, after fourteen years’ loyal service, fell spectacularly foul of her employers. The year was 1832, a time of great political upheaval in Britain. Dorothy Doar was a small but vital cog in the enormous machine servicing the wealthiest, most powerful and probably most disliked family of her day. Her uniform was the black bombazine dress and bunch of keys that symbolized all that Victorian society held dear. Though Mrs Doar proved that these symbols of sobriety, dependability, and morality were just a cloak. Inside, she was human.

The Housekeeper's Tale - Hannah Mackenzie's Story

The Women Who Really Ran the English Country House

Author: Tessa Boase

Publisher: Aurum Press Limited

ISBN: 1781314160

Category: Country homes

Page: 48

View: 7787

This is Hannah Mackenzie’s story, one of the five stories that make up The Housekeeper’s Tale. Hannah Mackenzie’s career in domestic service encompassed the Victorian industrialist middle classes, the Edwardian conservative nouveau riche, the liberal aristocracy during the Great War and the American super-rich of the Roaring Twenties. This story shines a spotlight on one year of Hannah’s profession – 1914 to 1915. Wrest Park in Bedfordshire was the first country-house war hospital to receive wounded soldiers from the Great War. This first year of the war, with a lifetime’s worth of experience, exposed the Honorable Nan Herbert and her housekeeper to all of the horrors of modern warfare. Ultimately, it provides a moving story of great hardship and loss as well as glimpses of happiness and even love, and is a powerful testament to the actions of women when their country needed them most.

Mrs Pankhurst's Purple Feather

Fashion, Fury and Feminism †“ Women's Fight for Change

Author: Tessa Boase

Publisher: Aurum Press

ISBN: 178131814X

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 336

View: 1968

'Shocking and entertaining. The surprising story of the campaigning women who changed Britain.' Virginia Nicholson ‘Full of fascinating historical detail and colourful characters… A great story, beautifully told.’ Kate Humble When Mrs Pankhurst stormed the House of Commons with her crack squad of militant suffragettes in 1908, she wore on her hat a voluptuous purple feather. This is the intriguing story behind that feather. Twelve years before the suffragette movement began dominating headlines, a very different women’s campaign captured the public imagination. Its aim was radical: to stamp out the fashion for feathers in hats. Leading the fight was a character just as heroic as Emmeline Pankhurst, but with opposite beliefs. Her name was Etta Lemon, and she was anti-fashion, anti-feminist – and anti-suffrage. Mrs Lemon has been forgotten by history, but her mighty society lives on. Few, today, are aware that Britain’s biggest conservation charity, the RSPB, was born through the determined efforts of a handful of women, led by the indomitable Mrs Lemon. While the suffragettes were slashing paintings and smashing shop windows, Etta Lemon and her local secretaries were challenging ‘murderous millinery’ all the way up to Parliament. This gripping narrative explores two singular heroines – one lionised, the other forgotten – and their rival, overlapping campaigns. Moving from the feather workers’ slums to the highest courtly circles, from the first female political rally to the first forcible feeding, Mrs Pankhurst’s Purple Feather is a unique journey through a society in transformation. This is a highly original story of women stepping into the public sphere, agitating for change – and finally finding a voice.

Below Stairs

The Classic Kitchen Maid's Memoir That Inspired "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey"

Author: Margaret Powell

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

ISBN: 142995244X

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 224

View: 4177

Brilliantly evoking the long-vanished world of masters and servants portrayed in Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, Margaret Powell's classic memoir of her time in service, Below Stairs, is the remarkable true story of an indomitable woman who, though she served in the great houses of England, never stopped aiming high. Powell first arrived at the servants' entrance of one of those great houses in the 1920s. As a kitchen maid – the lowest of the low – she entered an entirely new world; one of stoves to be blacked, vegetables to be scrubbed, mistresses to be appeased, and bootlaces to be ironed. Work started at 5.30am and went on until after dark. It was a far cry from her childhood on the beaches of Hove, where money and food were scarce, but warmth and laughter never were. Yet from the gentleman with a penchant for stroking the housemaids' curlers, to raucous tea-dances with errand boys, to the heartbreaking story of Agnes the pregnant under-parlormaid, fired for being seduced by her mistress's nephew, Margaret's tales of her time in service are told with wit, warmth, and a sharp eye for the prejudices of her situation. Margaret Powell's true story of a life spent in service is a fascinating "downstairs" portrait of the glittering, long-gone worlds behind the closed doors of Downton Abbey and 165 Eaton Place.

Minding the Manor

The Memoir of a 1930s English Kitchen Maid

Author: Mollie Moran

Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield

ISBN: 1493004093

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 360

View: 5735

Born in 1916 in Norfolk, Mollie Moran is one of the few people still alive today who can recall working "downstairs" in the golden years of the early 1930's before the outbreak of WWII. She provides a rare and fascinating insight into a world that has long since vanished. Mollie left school at age fourteen and became a scullery maid for a wealthy gentleman with a mansion house in London’s Knighsbridge and a Tudor manor in Norfolk. Even though Mollie's days were long and grueling and included endless tasks, such as polishing doorknobs, scrubbing steps, and helping with all of the food prep in the kitchen, she enjoyed her freedom and had a rich life. Like any bright-eyed teenager, Mollie also spent her days daydreaming about boys, dresses, and dances. She became fast friends with the kitchen maid Flo, dated a sweet farmhand, and became secretly involved with a brooding, temperamental footman. Molly eventually rose to kitchen maid for Lord Islington and then cook for the Earl of Leicester's niece at the magnificent Wallington Hall.

Life in the English Country House

A Social and Architectural History

Author: Mark Girouard

Publisher: Yale University Press

ISBN: 9780300058703

Category: History

Page: 344

View: 8276

Based on the author's Slade lectures given at Oxford University in 1975-76.

The World of Downton Abbey

Author: Jessica Fellowes

Publisher: St. Martin's Press

ISBN: 1250016207

Category: Performing Arts

Page: 304

View: 5528

A lavish look at the real world--both the secret history and the behind-the-scenes drama--of the spellbinding Emmy Award-winning Masterpiece TV series Downton Abbey April 1912. The sun is rising behind Downton Abbey, a great and splendid house in a great and splendid park. So secure does it appear that it seems as if the way it represents will last for another thousand years. It won't. Millions of American viewers were enthralled by the world of Downton Abbey, the mesmerizing TV drama of the aristocratic Crawley family--and their servants--on the verge of dramatic change. On the eve of Season 2 of the TV presentation, this gorgeous book--illustrated with sketches and research from the production team, as well as on-set photographs from both seasons--takes us even deeper into that world, with fresh insights into the story and characters as well as the social history.

They Also Serve

Author: Bob Sharpe,Tom Quinn

Publisher: Coronet

ISBN: 9781444735925

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 246

View: 8297

During more than thirty years in a variety of houses, Bob Sharpe managed to rise from garden boy to valet and butler. As a boy he had to kill pheasant chicks, boil rabbits for the estate dogs, carry the wood up and down stairs every day for thirty fires and sleep on the floor outside his master's room. He cleaned shoes, ironed underwear and socks and once had to stand all night in the hall waiting for a late visitor to arrive.But as a butler he was the best paid servant in the house, waited on, feared and respected by the other servants.Bob Sharpe knew the real world of upstairs downstairs and the secrets of the landed gentry - even to the point of incest and attempted murder! They Also Serve shows you life below stairs as it really was and is perfect for fans of Downton Abbey and nostalgia memoirs. Part of the Lives of Servants series. Other titles in the series are: The Maid's Tale, The Cook's Tale and Cocoa at Midnight.

Diamonds at Dinner - My Life as a Lady's Maid in a 1930s Stately Home

Author: Hilda Newman,Tim Tate

Publisher: John Blake Publishing

ISBN: 1782197826

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 300

View: 7303

'I THOUGHT I'D GONE TO A PRISON'This was Hilda Newman's first impression when, at the age of 19, she left her parents' little terraced cottage in Lincolnshire and embarked on a new life as a lady's maid at Croome Court, the enormous stately home of Lord and Lady Coventry.The year was 1935: the twilight of the English aristocracy. It was a time of wealth and glamour; of lavish balls and evening gown; of tiaras and a Coronation. As personal maide to Lady Coventry, Hilda had a unique insight into the leisured life of one of Britain's most noble families.In her fascinating memoir of life upstairs and down, Hilda takes us back to a gilded era which would be brutally swept away by the Second World War. Hers is a very personal story of being transplanted from a tiny house with no bath or hot water to an eighteenth-century Neo-Palladian mansion surrounded by parkland landscaped by Lancelot 'Capability' Brown.But it also the remarkable story of the family who service she entered - and that of Croome Court itself: during World War Two, it housed the Dutch Royal Family - who had fled the Nazi occupation - and it was also home to the top-secret RAF base where radar was developed. This is Hilda's story.

The Cook's Tale

Life Below Stairs as it Really Was

Author: Tom Quinn,Nancy Jackman

Publisher: Coronet

ISBN: 144473590X

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 272

View: 9422

Nancy Jackman was born in 1907 in a remote Norfolk village. Her father was a ploughman, her mother a former servant who struggled to make ends meet in a cottage so small that access to the single upstairs room was via a ladder. The pace of life in that long-vanished world was dictated by the slow, heavy tread of the farm horse and though Nancy's earliest memories were of a green, sunny countryside still unspoiled by the motorcar, she also knew at first hand the harshness of a world where the elderly were forced to break stones on the roads and where school children were regularly beaten. Nancy left school at the age of twelve to work for a local farmer who forced her to stand in the rain when she made a mistake, physically abused her and eventually tried to rape her. Nancy continued to work as a cook until the 1950s, sustained by her determination to escape and find a life of her own.

Up and Down Stairs

The History of the Country House Servant

Author: Jeremy Musson

Publisher: John Murray

ISBN: 1848543875

Category: History

Page: 384

View: 2154

Country houses were reliant on an intricate hierarchy of servants, each of whom provided an essential skill. Up and Down Stairs brings to life this hierarchy and shows how large numbers of people lived together under strict segregation and how sometimes this segregation was broken, as with the famous marriage of a squire to his dairymaid at Uppark. Jeremy Musson captures the voices of the servants who ran these vast houses, and made them work. From unpublished memoirs to letters, wages, newspaper articles, he pieces together their daily lives from the Middle Ages through to the twentieth century. The story of domestic servants is inseparable from the story of the country house as an icon of power, civilisation and luxury. This is particularly true with the great estates such as Chatsworth, Hatfield, Burghley and Wilton. Jeremy Musson looks at how these grand houses were, for centuries, admired and imitated around the world.

The Mistresses of Cliveden

Three Centuries of Scandal, Power, and Intrigue in an English Stately Home

Author: Natalie Livingstone

Publisher: Ballantine Books

ISBN: 0553392085

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 512

View: 392

For fans of Downton Abbey comes an immersive historical epic about a lavish English manor and a dynasty of rich and powerful women who ruled the estate over three centuries of misbehavior, scandal, intrigue, and passion. Five miles from Windsor Castle, home of the royal family, sits the Cliveden estate. Overlooking the Thames, the mansion is flanked by two wings and surrounded by lavish gardens. Throughout its storied history, Cliveden has been a setting for misbehavior, intrigue, and passion—from its salacious, deadly beginnings in the seventeenth century to the 1960s Profumo Affair, the sex scandal that toppled the British government. Now, in this immersive chronicle, the manor’s current mistress, Natalie Livingstone, opens the doors to this prominent house and lets the walls do the talking. Built during the reign of Charles II by the Duke of Buckingham, Cliveden attracted notoriety as a luxurious retreat in which the duke could conduct his scandalous affair with the ambitious courtesan Anna Maria, Countess of Shrewsbury. In 1668, Anna Maria’s cuckolded husband, the Earl of Shrewsbury, challenged Buckingham to a duel. Buckingham killed Shrewsbury and claimed Anna Maria as his prize, making her the first mistress of Cliveden. Through the centuries, other enigmatic and indomitable women would assume stewardship over the estate, including Elizabeth, Countess of Orkney and illicit lover of William III, who became one of England’s wealthiest women; Augusta of Saxe-Gotha, the queen that Britain was promised and then denied; Harriet, Duchess of Sutherland, confidante of Queen Victoria and a glittering society hostess turned political activist; and the American-born Nancy Astor, the first female member of Parliament, who described herself as an “ardent feminist” and welcomed controversy. Though their privileges were extraordinary, in Livingstone’s hands, their struggles and sacrifices are universal. Cliveden weathered renovation and restoration, world conflicts and cold wars, societal shifts and technological advances. Rich in historical and architectural detail, The Mistresses of Cliveden is a tale of sex and power, and of the exceptional women who evaded, exploited, and confronted the expectations of their times. Praise for The Mistresses of Cliveden “Theatrical festivities, political jockeying and court intrigues are deftly described with a verve and attention to domestic comforts that show the author at her best. . . . [Livingstone’s] portraits of strenuous and assertive women who resisted subjection, sometimes deploying their sexual allure to succeed, on other occasions drawing on their husband’s wealth, are astute, spirited, and empathetic.”—The Wall Street Journal “Missing Downton Abbey already? This tome promises ‘three centuries of scandal, power, and intrigue’ and Natalie Livingstone definitely delivers.”—Good Housekeeping “Lively . . . The current chatelaine—the author herself—deserves no small credit for keeping the house’s legend alive. . . . Any of her action-filled chapters would merit a mini-series.”—The New York Times Book Review “Though the personal tales and tidbits are fascinating, and the sensational details of these women’s lives will intrigue Downton Abbey devotees, the real star of the story is Cliveden.”—Booklist “Lovers of modern English history and the scandals that infiltrated upper-crust society will find much to enjoy in this work.”—Library Journal From the Hardcover edition.

The Victorian City

Everyday Life in Dickens' London

Author: Judith Flanders

Publisher: Macmillan

ISBN: 1466835451

Category: History

Page: 544

View: 387

From the New York Times bestselling and critically acclaimed author of The Invention of Murder, an extraordinary, revelatory portrait of everyday life on the streets of Dickens' London. The nineteenth century was a time of unprecedented change, and nowhere was this more apparent than London. In only a few decades, the capital grew from a compact Regency town into a sprawling metropolis of 6.5 million inhabitants, the largest city the world had ever seen. Technology—railways, street-lighting, and sewers—transformed both the city and the experience of city-living, as London expanded in every direction. Now Judith Flanders, one of Britain's foremost social historians, explores the world portrayed so vividly in Dickens' novels, showing life on the streets of London in colorful, fascinating detail.From the moment Charles Dickens, the century's best-loved English novelist and London's greatest observer, arrived in the city in 1822, he obsessively walked its streets, recording its pleasures, curiosities and cruelties. Now, with him, Judith Flanders leads us through the markets, transport systems, sewers, rivers, slums, alleys, cemeteries, gin palaces, chop-houses and entertainment emporia of Dickens' London, to reveal the Victorian capital in all its variety, vibrancy, and squalor. From the colorful cries of street-sellers to the uncomfortable reality of travel by omnibus, to the many uses for the body parts of dead horses and the unimaginably grueling working days of hawker children, no detail is too small, or too strange. No one who reads Judith Flanders's meticulously researched, captivatingly written The Victorian City will ever view London in the same light again.

Aprons and Silver Spoons

The heartwarming memoirs of a 1930s scullery maid

Author: Mollie Moran

Publisher: Penguin UK

ISBN: 0718197186

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 384

View: 6637

If you liked Downton Abbey and Upstairs, Downstairs, it's time to discover the reality in Mollie Moran's Sunday Times bestselling memoir, Aprons and Silver Spoons. 'If you love Downton, this is right up your street!' Closer 'This evocative memoir... provides a fascinating insight into a world that has long since disappeared' The Sun 'A vivid, entertaining and human glimpse into life in service during the 1930s complete with recipes, tips and photos' My Weekly 'a wonderful book' Bookbag 'A lovely story' Mailonline When young Mollie became a 'skivvy' in a stately London townhouse aged just 14, she quickly learned that a large amount of elbow grease and a sense of humour would be tantamount to surviving there. Through Mollie's eyes we are offered a fascinating glimpse into London's invisible 'downstairs', a world that has long-since vanished: cooking huge roast dinners, polishing doorknobs, scrubbing steps - and covering up her employers' scandals. Going to dances with her fellow servants and flirting with Harrods' errand boys, she had no idea that the oncoming war in 1939 would change her world, and that of those she served, forever... Discover the real hardships and rewards for a pre-war domestic servant in Mollie Moran's charming memoir Aprons and Silver Spoons. Mollie Moran is now ninety-six, living in Bournemouth where she still continues to demonstrate her skills in the kitchen by hosting huge dinner parties. Over eighty years after starting as a scullery maid in London, she still keeps in touch with Flo, the kitchen maid, and her life-long friend.

Rebecca

Author: Daphne du Maurier

Publisher: Little, Brown

ISBN: 0316323705

Category: Fiction

Page: 448

View: 2899

"Rebecca is a work of immense intelligence and wit, elegantly written, thematically solid, suspenseful.." --Washington Post "Daphne du Maurier created a scale by which modern women can measure their feelings." --Stephen King Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again . . . The novel begins in Monte Carlo, where our heroine is swept off her feet by the dashing widower Maxim de Winter and his sudden proposal of marriage. Orphaned and working as a lady's maid, she can barely believe her luck. It is only when they arrive at his massive country estate that she realizes how large a shadow his late wife will cast over their lives--presenting her with a lingering evil that threatens to destroy their marriage from beyond the grave. First published in 1938, this classic gothic novel is such a compelling read that it won the Anthony Award for Best Novel of the Century.

Rose: My Life in Service to Lady Astor

Author: Rosina Harrison

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 1101565705

Category: Biography & Autobiography

Page: 368

View: 5632

In 1928, Rosina Harrison arrived at the illustrious household of the Astor family to take up her new position as personal maid to the infamously temperamental Lady Nancy Astor, who sat in Parliament, entertained royalty, and traveled the world. "She's not a lady as you would understand a lady" was the butler's ominous warning. But what no one expected was that the iron-willed Lady Astor was about to meet her match in the no-nonsense, whip-smart girl from the country. For 35 years, from the parties thrown for royalty and trips across the globe, to the air raids during WWII, Rose was by Lady Astor's side and behind the scenes, keeping everything running smoothly. In charge of everything from the clothes and furs to the baggage to the priceless diamond "sparklers," Rose was closer to Lady Astor than anyone else. In her decades of service she received one £5 raise, but she traveled the world in style and retired with a lifetime's worth of stories. Like Gosford Park and Downton Abbey, ROSE is a captivating insight into the great wealth 'upstairs' and the endless work 'downstairs', but it is also the story of an unlikely decades-long friendship that grew between Her Ladyship and her spirited Yorkshire maid.