Manor House
"In my normal life I look after people who have brain injuries. It ain't easy work, but this is just the hardest work that I've ever done in all my life." Kenny, hallboy
Monsieur Dubiard
Photograph of Mrs. Morrison helping Lady Olliff-Cooper with her dress

Above: Lady Olliff-Cooper is dressed by her lady's maid, Morrison
Below: The maids have to get dressed on their own...

Photograph of Jessica changing

Sir John and Lady Olliff-Cooper have their own separate bedrooms
Kenny the hallboy sleeps in the servants corridor
"I said to Avril – I need some toothpaste for my room...She said it's that pink powder on the sideboard just by the basin. And I thought that was actually talcum powder. I've been putting in on my feet!"
Mister Jonathan
Edwardian Life:
A Typical Day in the House

First up are the scullery maid - who gets the kitchen range hot enough to boil the water for tea - and Kenny the hallboy who cleans the boots and empties the chamber pots.

The alarm rings in the housemaids' room at the top of the house for Becky and Jess. Their early tasks include struggling into corsets and putting on their bloomers. The housemaids are then expected downstairs in the basement kitchen where Becky the first housemaid makes tea and toast for lady's maid Miss Morrison and housekeeper Mrs Davies.

After trudging up 89 stairs to deliver tea and toast, Becky is back down again to clean the main rooms on the ground floor. She tidies, dusts and polishes the furniture and runs the Ewbank sweeper over the carpets in the morning room (there were no vacuum cleaners available in Manderston), the dining room and the drawing room. And all this before breakfast!

Meanwhile, second housemaid Jess has to get the fires going all round the house. She can only do this if Kenny remembered to bring in the coal from the coal hole and chop the logs and kindling the night before.

The scullery maid should already be in the scullery, making sure all the washing-up from the night before has been done and the floor is swept. She's joined by Antonia the kitchen maid who puts breakfast together for the servants. And soon chef de cuisine M Dubiard appears and makes breakfast for the family.

The bell for the servants' breakfast sounds and upper and lower servants all make their way to the servants' hall in the basement where Antonia serves bowls of porridge, cups of tea and bread and butter.

As soon as breakfast is finished, Miss Morrison, who has already taken tea and toast to Lady Olliff-Cooper in her bedroom, must hurry upstairs to run a bath for her mistress, help her dress and do her hair.

Becky slips upstairs too to do the same for Miss Anson, Lady Olliff-Cooper's spinster sister who does not have a lady's maid of her own, while Mr Edgar the butler, who has presided at breakfast, knocks on Sir John's door, to carry out his morning role as valet and barber.

Footmen Charlie and Rob bring up the food and lay the table in the dining room for the family's breakfast.

The bell rings for family prayers. This is the one time of the day that some of the lower servants will see their masters. The downstairs staff gather in the main hall, and wait for the family to read prayers. This is also a time when Sir John will be able to announce congratulations or punishments to his staff.

As soon as prayers are over, the family go in and sit down to a full Edwardian breakfast prepared by their French chef, consisting of fruit, eggs, sausages, perhaps a pair of kippers, some kedgeree or perhaps devilled kidneys. They are served by Mr Edgar, the butler, and Charlie, the first footman, in full livery.

Upstairs, Rob the second footman gives breakfast to Master Guy and Mr Raj Singh, his tutor.

Monsieur Dubiard has been preparing the family's lunch for some time now, and Mrs Davies the housekeeper has been competing with him for space on the kitchen range while she tries to bake some bread.

She washes her hands, changes into a clean apron and hurries up to the morning room for her daily meeting with Lady Olliff-Cooper to discuss the day's business - what's for lunch, when m'lady will go riding, and who's coming for dinner.

Meanwhile, Mr Edgar the butler begins his daily meeting with Sir John in the business room.

Each of the servants now settles into their regular chores - Miss Morrison, the lady's maid, works on a dress for Lady Olliff-Cooper; Becky cleans the bedrooms, Jess sorts out the laundry, Rob, the second footman, is on front door duty, ushering in guests while Charlie, the first footman, is down in the butler's pantry polishing silver, chatting with Kenny, the hallboy, who is sharpening the knives.

Mrs Davies has phoned her food orders to the suppliers and deliveries have been made into the cool, tiled larders.

Meanwhile in the kitchen it is hot, steamy and a hive of activity. The scullery maid is, as usual, washing up pots and pans and trying to keep up with M Dubiard as he both cooks lunch and plans dinner. At the same time Antonia, the kitchen maid, is cooking the servants' main meal of the day to be served at twelve o'clock (known as dinner).

The servants gather in the servants' hall for morning tea. Mr Edgar and Mrs Davies, loaded with instructions from their masters, use the opportunity to issue their own orders to the lower staff, before sending them off to continue their morning duties. The footmen now turn towards laying the table for the family's lunch.

The servants sit down for their well-deserved dinner. But there's not much time to hang around since the family take lunch at 1 p.m. and Mr Edgar, the footmen, and of course the kitchen staff are all involved...

The family are served lunch by Mr Edgar and both footmen - always a three-course meal.

After lunch, the meal has to be cleared and the washing-up done in the butler's pantry while the scullery maid washes the servants' crockery, then everything has to be put away again. Jess checks on her fires, Miss Morrison obeys her third or fourth summons of the day upstairs, this time to help Lady Olliff-Cooper change into her tea gown.

Miss Anson and Mr Jonathan want to go riding, so Becky goes to help Miss Anson get ready, and Charlie is summoned to help Mr Jonathan. Down in the stables, Tristan the groom saddles the horses.

While Mrs Davies is in the kitchen making scones and cakes for the family's tea, the lower servants are supposed to have a couple of hours to themselves, if their tasks are finished. But that is unlikely to happen too often in a house the size of Manderston.

The family take tea in the drawing room, often with their guests.

The basement is buzzing again: the servants eat supper at 6 pm - a smaller meal than at midday. A five-course dinner is to be served upstairs at 8 pm, so everyone is hard at work.

As first footman, Charlie sounds the gong at 7pm to alert the family and their guests that it is time to go up to dress for dinner

Dinner is served upstairs. Five courses, with wine, and a footman or two and a butler in attendance. If there are guests, those servants will be expected to stay upstairs to wait on the family during the rest of the evening as well.

During family dinner, Becky will be hard at work once again clearing up the bedrooms after the family and any guests have spent an hour getting changed in them. She picks up clothes, draws the curtains, and lays out the night wear.

The footmen clear from dinner while the maids start on the crockery, once this is finished the footmen can start on the glass, silvers and cutlery, ensuring that male and female servants work separately at all times.

Miss Morrison and Becky will stay up until the ladies are ready to retire, and when the bell rings, they will go to help Lady Olliff-Cooper and Miss Anson prepare for bed.

10.30pm, or often much later
The last task of a long day is for Mr Edgar to check that all the lights are off, secure the shutters and lock all the outside doors.

^ back to top



© 2003 Channel4. All rights reserved. | PBS Privacy Policy