Manor House Antonia Dawson
"If I'd been born 100 years ago a woman of my class would almost certainly have been in service. And I'd like to know what that meant." Antonia, kitchen maid
Antonia Dawson
Antonia Dawson

Watch the video diaries

The Kitchen Maid: Daily Duties

Ellen and Antonia take a break
Ellen and Antonia take a break

Edwardian Life

A Typical Day in the House

More about Edwardian Food

How to Address the Family

The People: Antonia Dawson

Antonia: On Entering the House

Why do you think you will be a good kitchen maid in The Edwardian Country House?
"I am ideal for this because you cannot get a woman living a more twenty-first century lifestyle than myself. I am an unmarried twenty-nine year old woman living in my own house and driving my own car. I hold down a responsible and demanding job as a Police Control Room Operator, previously a very male orientated profession. I have no dependants and am not responsible to anyone else. It would be hard to find a woman living my lifestyle twenty years ago, let alone one hundred!"

"I love my life and to be given an opportunity to see what sort of life would have been open to me at the beginning of the last century I feel would be an invaluable experience both emotionally and physically."

"I am under no illusions that transplanting a modern woman, such as myself, into a life of service one hundred years ago will be difficult to say the least, but I fell I have the determination, desire and tenacity to test myself to the limits"

What skills have you got that are appropriate?
"I have a diploma in Catering and Hotel management - after this I started at the bottom as a trainee manager, working through housekeeping to become assistant restaurant manager of a hundred cover restaurant."

"It was here that I became aware of how the hierarchy in the kitchen worked and that to insult a chefs cooking was to take your life in your hands."

"My current position as Police Control Room operator has taught me how to be cool and clear-headed under pressure, to be able to pass on detailed information efficiently and succinctly, to operate on very little sleep and at all hours of the day, to anticipate a situation and act accordingly and lastly but importantly, how to keep well mannered and courteous whilst being subjected to abuse."

"I enjoy cookery, baking and cake decorating and not only did I attend a cake decorating course but have decorated several wedding cakes. My cooking talents and experience were also pushed to the gourmet limit in 'The Dinner Party Club', a society that my friends and I have started."

What do you hope to gain from the experience?
"Other than blisters, calluses, dry skin and aching limbs, I hope to gain a better understanding of what women and the lower classes had to go through to enable modern society to live with the amount of freedom, opportunity and independence that I am in a position to enjoy today."

"In relation to the job itself, I hope to learn their method of cooking extravagant and complicated menus with what would be considered as primitive equipment by today's standards. All this with the added hindrance of cooking what is in season and available from the gardener."


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