Manor House Charlie Clay
"Working in a Edwardian house is
a bit like public school." Charlie, first footman
Charlie Clay
Charlie Clay

Watch the video diaries

The First Footman: Daily Duties

The footmen lay the table as well as serving at the family's dinner
The footmen lay the table as well as serving at the family's dinner

Edwardian Life

A Typical Day in the House

How to Address the Family

The People: Charlie Clay

Edwardian role: First Footman
Age: 23
Home: Nottingham
Occupation: Area Sales Manager

Life before Manor House
Charlie, a former model and Area Sales Manager for an international coach building company, is currently setting up his own Model Agency.

He was educated at public school and has since spent some time working his way round America.

On entering the house, he reckoned that "working in a Edwardian house will be like public school."

He is not reticent about his charms. "I've done some modelling, and I rather like to be the centre of attention," he says. On entering the house, like most of the younger servants he wondered how he would get on without clubs and bars, but reckoned that he could provide some entertainments for his fellow below stairs staff. Taking orders, though, was not his strong suit. It had got him into trouble at school - how would he adapt to Edwardian discipline?

Life in Manor House
The footmen, Charlie and Rob have a dual role in the household - while doing a lot of hard manual work, they're expected to look good at the same time.

Coal had to be carried upstairs for the fires and blocks of ice manhandled into the storeroom. And then there's the washing up in the butler's pantry, of the glasses, fine china, the silver and plates that the family used.

But as well as having to work hard downstairs under the direction of the butler, footmen had an ornamental role upstairs: serving at table; assisting guests; riding at the back of the carriage in imitation of their forebears who would run alongside their master's vehicle, (partly for security but largely for display).

Footmen brought prestige to the families they worked for. Being waited on at dinner by a manservant carried higher status than a mere parlour maid. A tall, handsome, liveried footman, his posture erect, his hair powdered on grand occasions, who was confident in the rules of etiquette and served adroitly, brought glamour to a household.

Charlie is tall, so could have earned good money in 1905 as a footman - a first footman who stood 5ft 6in would earn from 20 to 22, whereas one who could draw himself up to 5ft 10in, or even attain 6ft, could command from 32 to 40.12 (about 2500 a year today).


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