The Manor House Rebecca Smith
"One day in town I had my bag and umbrella - a little girl ran up and said "Are you Mary Poppins?" I just nodded. She ran away beaming!". Becky, housemaid
Rebecca Smith
Rebecca Smith

Watch the video diaries

Becky: On Entering the House

With no vacuum cleaners available, Becky sweeps the carpets by hand or with a Ewbank carpet cleaner
With no vacuum cleaners available, Becky sweeps the carpets by hand or with a Ewbank carpet cleaner

Edwardian Life

The First Housemaid: Daily Duties

A Typical Day in the House

How to Address the Family

The People: Rebecca Smith

Edwardian Role: First Housemaid
Age: 26
Home: Liverpool
Occupation: Tourist Information

Life before Manor House
Becky lives with her parents and has been working for Tourist Information. She read History and Ancient History at the University of Reading but it was memories of her grandmother that inspired her to join the project:

"She was in service. She was only fifteen when she first went away - she was scared, but she had to. Her father had died and they needed the money. She'd lost all feeling in her hands and she was quite proud of that because it showed how hard she worked. I remember thinking that I wouldn't want to work that hard.'

Life in The Manor House
Becky is expected to work a 120 hour week for the yearly sum of 28 (just over 1700 today). And as with all the other servants, any time off is completely at the discretion of the master, Sir John. Unlike today, there was no legal right to time off for such domestic workers in 1905.

The female servants have to learn to cope with their corsets. These are not only complicated to put on, but also restrict breathing and movement. Not so bad if all you have to do is look pretty like Lady Olliff-Cooper, but difficult if you are doing hard physical work all day.

As far as Becky's place in the hierarchy goes, the rules state "The first housemaid is the highest ranking of the Lower Female Servants. Your direct counterpart in the Male Staff is the first footman. You answer directly to the housekeeper, and look to her to learn the skills of your trade. Your status is senior to the second housemaid, with whom you work in close conjunction. You must supervise her work and delegate tasks to her as you see fit. Although most of your duties fall directly into the department of the housekeeper, you can also expect to take orders from the chef de cuisine, and the most senior ranking member of Staff, the butler."


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