Ellen came to the house to take over as scullery maid after not one, but two maids
left because they couldn't stand the hard work and endless washing up. Her real name
is Carly, but after giving her the job, The Olliff-Cooper family, in Edwardian tradition, decided to give their servant a new name because they prefer 'Ellen' to 'Carly'.
Ellen is a farmer's daughter from North Devon. She studied countryside
management at college and then moved to Exeter. She had been planning to
travel when Manor House opportunity came up, but she put
her plans on hold in order to test whether she was looking at the past
- helped by the reminiscences of her grandmother - through rose-tinted
spectacles. She thought it would be good to be more appreciative of
what she enjoyed in the twenty-first century - comfortable beds,
telephones, text messaging her friends. The difficulties of Edwardian life and the fact that her job was arguably the hardest work in the house, would certainly achieve that.
With the male servants eager to meet the new scullery maid, would Ellen fair any better than her predecessors?
The rules make it quite clear - a scullery maid should know her place: "As scullery maid you are the lowest ranking servant of all the female Staff. Positioned directly below the
kitchen maid in order of
seniority, you answer directly to her and the chef de cuisine who is head of the Kitchen Department."
It has been estimated that in Manor House, the scullery maid had to clean, scour and scrub over four hundred knives, forks, pots and pans every day. And all this was without washing-up liquid. All she had to work with was soda crystals - really hard on the hands.
The scullery maid had the smallest bedroom, ate with the hall boy on a separate table from the other servants, and would only ever be allowed upstairs for morning prayers.