About the Series:
Our family and staff are half way through their time at Manderston and
has decided that standards must be raised to their Edwardian maximum.
He is stepping up the pressure by holding a weekend Friday to Monday shooting party.
These events were amongst the most extravagant of the era. Held in total
privacy from the outside world, guests could compete at shooting, perform
their party tricks and indulge in passionate and occasionally extra-marital
affairs. For all this
had set the standard. His shooting parties
could bag over 2000 birds a day and where he was invited to stay his current
mistress would be invited also and provided with a room conveniently near to his own.
The merriment of these events contrasts with the spirit of
Miss Anson, the unmarried
sister of Lady Olliff-Cooper
who is feeling degraded by her place in the hierarchy.
While her sister revels in the ease of a frivolous lifestyle, Miss Anson finds the
life of a country house woman unbearably repressive. In the early 1900s radical
'new women' were beginning to question the restricted female spheres in which they
were supposed to live and think.
But these women were many miles away from the
average lady of the manor, who had been purposely educated to be an accomplished
wife and mother. Having failed to fulfil these roles, Avril's status is reduced
to being a childminder and companion to her sister. Her brother-in-law, Sir John
is unashamedly determined to see her kept in this role.
She rebels by indulging
in 'manly' pastimes such as cycling and going out walking on her own but eventually
melancholy catches up with her and, like so many Edwardian women before her,
this begins to affect her health.
But perhaps the problem is less Miss Anson's than Sir John's. As well as offending
his sister-in-law he has managed to offend the downstairs staff. In front of guests
he openly criticises the food, seemingly unaware that this would quickly travel
down via the footmen to the kitchen.
The chef decides on a
As Sir John enjoys a spot of shooting, the chef prepares a grand dish for the
family unlike any other they would get a chance to taste in modern life.
Without warning a pig's head is carried to the dining table and the fatty cheeks
served up to a horrified Sir John. The majority of the downstairs staff are
delighted to have proved to their master that being Edwardian is not always
about getting what you want.
But Mr Edgar the butler
feels he has let his master down
and Sir John clearly feels the same. The close master servant relationship that
had developed soon breaks down, and for the first time since arriving at Manderston,
they stop talking. It is not clear how the deadlock will be broken.
The butler also seems to be losing control below stairs, when it becomes clear that
Kenny the hallboy has intentions
towards the latest scullery maid,
between servants in a country
house were forbidden and either one or both would have had to leave the house
if their relationship was discovered. When Kenny and Ellen realise that the
attraction is mutual, they decide to keep their relationship hidden. But it's
hard to keep a secret when you live with 12 nosy colleagues.
Before long everyone
knows about their romance and start to get fed up covering for them. The chef is not
a fan of 'lovebirds in the kitchen' and Mr Edgar consults with the rest of the staff
about what punishment he should enforce to bring Kenny back into line..
Emotional tensions build when Miss Anson, on the doctor's recommendation,
leaves the house to recover back in the 21st century.
As Sir John invites
the Poet Laureate to entertain his house party with a reading of his poetry,
Lady Olliff-Cooper speculates that if the family were to remain in the house for
longer than their allotted three months, she would end up being closer to her maid
Morrison than her own husband and children, Sir John would probably take a mistress,
and the boys Jonty and Guy would almost certainly be scarred for life.
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