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Manor House Ellen
"I miss my daily showers and the telephone.
The ears of my friends and family are getting a rest!" Ellen, scullery maid
Ellen
THE PROJECT|THE HOUSE|THE PEOPLE|EDWARDIAN LIFE|YOU IN 1905|TREATS|SNOB QUIZ
Ellen

Watch the video diaries

The Scullery 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

Upstairs
Downstairs
The People: Ellen Beard

Ellen: Thoughts After Leaving the House

What expectations did you have about entering Manor House?
I expected it to be incredibly hard work (which it was), but I also hoped it would change my outlook on life and make me appreciate the 21st Century more.

Do you think that taking part has changed you?
It certainly made me have much more interest in the Edwardian Era. The 'roly' [roll-your-own cigarettes] breaks with Antonia [Kitchen Maid] and Kenny [Hallboy] have also made me smoke a lot more - though I've almost given up now. I also have a lot more confidence.

Has anyone said that you have changed since you have returned to the 21st Century?
I haven't really spent much time with my family since I left the house, so nobody's really seen enough of me to know.

What do you feel you've learnt?
That I'm glad to be living in the 21st Century! And for hands that do dishes as soft as your face, don't use Soda Crystals!

Have you remained friends or stayed in contact with anyone from the household? Why?
I have stayed in contact with almost everyone, particularly Antonia [Kitchen Maid] and M Dubiard [Chef de Cuisine], as I spent the majority of my day working with them in the kitchens. However the most contact I have with anyone is with Kenny, who for 4 months after we left I saw nearly every day since leaving Manderston because we were living together!

What did you enjoy most?
The fact that all the time I was doing it, I knew that at the end, I would be one of a handful of people who can say they have lived and worked as an Edwardian servant in an Edwardian mansion, I feel very privileged.

What did you like least?
Not openly being allowed to be a couple, with Kenny.

The Olliff-Cooper family, i.e. their dodgy views, and also their disregard for Monsieur's food. On one occasion they sent a dish back without even trying it!

What did you find the hardest aspect of the role you assumed?
Having to give respect to people (who at first I didn't know) purely because they were further up the hierarchy, when normally, I feel people have to earn it.

Also, not being able to argue with the upper servants or point out their mistakes. Instead we had to be two-faced and talk to the diary cam.

What did you miss most from the 21st century? Did you ever give in to temptation?
I missed my freedom and my family and friends. I also gave into temptation and smuggled in some tweezers. Though, I felt it my duty as I think it was hard enough for everyone, without having to spend time with a hairy monster!

Do you think that the 21st century can learn anything from the Edwardian era?
Yes. Edwardians had a much greater respect for their food and its origins. Quality rather than quantity was important.

What did you like and dislike most about the Edwardian era?
I enjoyed the simplicity of being an Edwardian servant as the only thing to worry about was the early mornings and hard work.

I disliked the sexism. It seemed terribly unfair that if mine and Kenny's relationship was discovered in Edwardian times, I would have been sacked and Kenny would have just been told off.

If you could have your time at the Manderston again is there any one thing that you would have done differently?
I would have liked to have been there from the beginning.

Did you find that the Edwardian setting changed the way that men and women related to each other? How do you feel about it?
It didn't seem to change the way that the lower servants related to each other. I believe most of the males would have found it very difficult and immoral to treat us females as we would have been in Edwardian times.

Any other stories you want to tell?
The day of the interview at Manderston and the fete are my most prominent memories.

The day of the interview, the door was opened by the hall boy, and we instantly stepped into a time-warp. If it hadn't been for the camera crew it would have been spooky.

The fete was only mine and Erika's second day and we were both feeling very unsettled. I felt like I was having an incredibly surreal dream. It was so comforting to meet everyone's families and be reminded we had not actually jumped back in time.

My fondest memories are of mine and Kenny's courtship. It was so special, because it was a traditional courtship. We sent for walks in the woods above the lake and it was like a scene out of period drama, the difference was that it was real. And every morning at about 6.45, whatever the weather, we would walk out to the fence by the laundry field with our cups of tea and rollies in had, and our arms around each other to take in the fresh air, trying to wake ourselves up (the mornings never did get any easier!)

There was also my bleary eyed treks upstairs at 4.30 in the morning from Kenny's 'bed area', praying I wouldn't be discovered. Nobody knew about that at the time! I don't think they did anyway...

Lastly my confession to Erica on our first night that I had smuggled in some tweezers.

We were lying in the dark and I told her I had a confession. She held her breath (I think she thought I was going to tell her something really sinister).

When I said I'd got tweezers she burst out laughing 'cause she sneaked some in as well.

An example of how 'into our roles' we were: the production company made us do a fire drill, and Becky and Jess went out the front door, but all the other servants started going all the way downstairs to the basement to go out of the servants' entrance. The production manager told us to go out the quickest way through the front door but nobody had even considered it because we weren't allowed to use it!

 


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