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Manor House Mrs Davies
"To run this house, you need discipline. The young people are finding that very hard but I make sure they're kept busy! Mrs Davies, housekeeper
Mrs Davies
Mrs Davies

Watch the video diaries

The Housekeeper: Daily Duties

Much of the servants' free time is spent writing to their families
Much of the servants' free time is spent writing to their families

Edwardian Life

A Typical Day in the House

How to Address the Family

The People: Jean Davies

Jean: Thoughts After Leaving the House

What expectations did you have about entering Manor House?
I expected to re-live the life of my ancestors. I have a great interest in history and work in junior schools at the moment, presenting 'living history', and I thought that I would have a first hand knowledge oft his living in the 'House'. I expected problems with the Chef as I have owned a restaurant, and know how volatile they can be under pressure. I expected to make new friends

Do you think that taking part has changed you?
My attitude towards extravagance has changed, seeing self-indulgence and 'wasted money' now makes me cringe. I, too, was a big spender, but I now know that superficial self-gain, by showing outward affluence is stupid. I had an opportunity at Manderston to be the 'without' and not the 'with' and I can now understand how less privileged people feel. This has changed me and made me more tolerant of others.

Has anyone said that you have changed since you have returned to the 21st Century?
No, because I hide this most of the time. My husband is the only one who really knows how I feel. My family and friends have expectations of me, and I want to please them. In a quiet way, underneath, I am doing more to change my image, but it can't be sudden.

What do you feel you've learnt?
I have learnt that to be happy you do not need copious amounts of money - although I do know that money buys you choice, and it's only important when you don't have any. Everyone is trying to find happiness in life, and money does not buy that - only love. I thought I was very confident and assertive before I went, but I soon learnt that without my husband, I am only half a person.

Have you remained friends or stayed in contact with anyone from the household? Why?
I have stayed in contact with all of the people including the family. This is by letter and telephone as I live a distance from them all. Some of the boys have not contacted me at all, but there again, I have sons, and they do not write! I am friends with Miss Morrison (Eva), Mr Edgar (Hugh), Lady OC (Anna), Miss Anson (Avril), Rebecca, Jessica, Antonia, Erika, Kenny and Ellen, Mr Raj-Singh (Reji) plus the local people in Duns.

What did you enjoy most?
Meeting new friends, and learning about what makes people 'tick'. At home, you have your family and you choose your friends - people like you - but in the ECH we were thrown together, all sorts of people and personalities and we had to sink or swim. I enjoyed trying to be mother and hold all these people together

What did you like least?
Not being able to contact my husband and family, except by letter. I know that if I could have spoken to Peter when I was feeling low, he would have made me feel better and advised me what to do. I also didn't like being treated as a lowly servant by the family. I know this would have been the case in 1905 - but we were all in role play!

What did you find the hardest aspect of the role you assumed?
Strangely enough the work was not the hardest! It was tedious, repetitive and boring, but it was trying to hold everyone together, that I found difficult. Every day, someone was at loggerheads with someone, and so it went on day after day. It was only at the end, that everyone pulled together. I found this continual argument difficult to accept.

What did you miss most from the 21st century? Did you ever give in to temptation?
I missed the telephone! I did not miss TV, and modern times with the stress of work and the pressure put on 21st Century people to succeed. I did miss one item of equipment - the vacuum cleaner. I am in a menopausal time of life and I was very very hot in my corsets, so sometimes I took them off - especially to walk to Duns!

Do you think that the 21st century can learn anything from the Edwardian era?
I think that we can learn from the Edwardian era that a simple, un-pressurised life, that the housekeeper had, was the best way to live. In 1905 I would have been unaware of women's total freedom that we have in 2002, so I would have been satisfied with my role. I think we 21st Century people should slow down and get out of the rat race, as money is not happiness

What did you like and dislike most about the Edwardian era?
I liked the fact that the housekeeper had a lovely parlour of her own, and was the mother to the female servants. I only wished I would have been free to go where I wished during my time off - as I really would have done. I liked going to church, the community and friendship was a life-saver from the mundane work. I disliked the waste of money spent by the rich, and the fact that women had no say at all.

If you could have your time at the Manderston again is there any one thing that you would have done differently?
Yes, I would have been more assertive from the first day. I went with that in mind, but the butler, Mr Edgar, completely took over, he hardly let me speak, and I had the same experiences as him in the past, knowing I had an Edwardian family, etc. but he was only interested in his own voice. He wouldn't listen to anyone else - so I gave up. I regret that now.

Did you find that the Edwardian setting changed the way that men and women related to each other? How do you feel about it?
Men were the dominant characters, and women were very second rate. As we lived this, I feel that the butler, especially, and even the footmen, carried this out in the house. Men's jobs were better than women's, and this was hard to take for us, as women from the 21st century. After the first month, we forgot the film crew were there, and were just 'Edwardians', but sadly women were inferior to men!

Any other stories you want to tell?
We were all at Manderston on September 11th 2001 - a date that will go down in history as one of the most tragic ever. We were isolated in Scotland, without any newspapers and television. We were told briefly what had happened by the production team, but I saw few photos or reports that gave me the full picture, I felt stunned and wanted to go home and hear for myself.

One day, one of the footmen had been to the pub in Duns and came back to tell us that he'd seen a tabloid paper saying that 'World War III' was declared. I was sick with worry and I couldn't find out the truth. I felt sure that I would be confined to Manderston for a very long time, so for my own reasons I will never forget September 11th.

I think that we should have had more direction from the production team to carry out our role. It was left to the Butler, who only knew the theory and had no practical experience. Our rule books were brief, and my role as a housekeeper, should have had keys on a chatelaine, to keep stock in check. I asked many times for this, because it was a rented house, I was not provided with my main 'image' - the keys. I think the viewers will all comment on this. I found it difficult at the beginning to be in role and yet not act. I feel we needed more help to fulfil our experience.


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