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Manor House
"Without us working here... this household would fall apart. There'd be no climbing the social ladder for Sir John or Mi'lady without us" Kenny, hallboy
THE PROJECT|THE HOUSE|THE PEOPLE|EDWARDIAN LIFE|YOU IN 1905|TREATS|SNOB QUIZ
Kelly
Mr Edgar thinking

Mr Edgar the butler has a lot on his mind

Photograph of three housemaids

Erika (left) has now arrived as a third housemaid to help Becky and Jess

Photograph of Mr. Edgar and Sir John at a fete

Mr Edgar the butler waits on his master during the fete


Snob Status
Quote
"We like our food more sanitised nowadays, we like it plastic wrapped from the supermarket, with no noticeable resemblance to animals."
Lady Olliff-Cooper
Lucy
About the Series:
Episode Guide

Episode Three: 'The Servants' Revolt'

The life of the Lady of the Manor was not one of endless leisure - owning the most important house in the area brought its own responsibilities. First you had to worry about your staff. Secondly you had to worry about doing your bit for the local community. Both pressures come to bear on Lady Olliff-Cooper this week.

Rebellion Downstairs
This week the staffing crisis comes to a head. Mr Edgar the butler is dealing with virtual rebellion downstairs. They are one person down once more and they are campaigning for time off. This was a hot issue in the Edwardian period - the vast majority of employers including the masters and mistresses of servants were not obliged to give any time off or annual holidays. Servants could end up working over 100 hours a week.

Whether its work or missing home - the servants are certainly looking peaky and at least one falls ill.

Frustrated by the lack of change, the unconventional chef, M Dubiard takes matters into his own hands. He leads Lady Olliff-Cooper and her sister to the kitchen. Neither of them have ever been downstairs before. Just a quick look around is enough to convince the mistress of the house that changes have to be made. Not one but two new maids are to be hired.

The extra staff arrives just in time to help out with M'lady's fundraising efforts. To mirror the actions of philanthropic upper class women of the period she takes a trip to the local hospital. It was firmly believed at the time that visiting those less well off than yourself would be of benefit to both parties. The rich could teach the poor how to behave and restless country house ladies, who were rarely asked their opinions on public life, could get out into the community to improve their family's standing in the local squirearchy.

An Edwardian Fete
The fete will be a rare chance for the wide community to see Manderston close up. All money raised will go to the local hospital and a committee is formed to oversee all kinds of stalls - everything from fortune-telling to guess the weight of the cake. There will also be competitions for best preserves, flower arranging and lots of outdoor games.

But opening the estate to the public can bring less welcome visitors. Some cyclists from the Clarion cycling club arrive bringing with them talk and song sheets aimed at stirring up socialist feeling in this deferential rural area. The Clarion was a popular national newspaper, which published articles written from a socialist perspective. It also championed the right to leisure for the working classes - a key issue in a society where industrialisation had replaced seasonal and weather-dependent work with unremitting labour for the masses. From the newspaper there grew a network of social clubs for working men and women. The cycling club is the only one to have survived to the present day.

Sir John has little interest in the messages that the Clarion cyclists have come to spread. But the servants, except the dutiful butler, appear to welcome them with open arms. In Edwardian Britain the working class was beginning to flex their industrial muscle and was finding strength in numbers.

For the inhabitants of the house it's been a rollercoaster week and both upstairs and downstairs have had a taste of the battle that was to come between employer and labour. This was a battle that was to transform the British political landscape.

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