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Manor House
"Here its so stifling and so constraining. You're gagged in this culture, in this structure. You can't be yourself, you can hardly breathe sometimes." Reji Raj-Singh
THE PROJECT|THE HOUSE|THE PEOPLE|EDWARDIAN LIFE|YOU IN 1905|TREATS|SNOB QUIZ
Mrs Davies
Photograph of Mr Raj Singh

Mr Raj Singh, Master Guy's tutor

Photograph of Eva Morrison and her mistress at the ball

Morrison the lady's maid shadows her mistress at the fancy-dress Empire Ball


Upstairs
Sir John and Lady Olliff-Cooper have their own separate bedrooms
more...
Downstairs
Kenny the hallboy sleeps in the servants corridor
more...
"I said to Avril – I need some toothpaste for my room...She said it's that pink powder on the sideboard just by the basin. And I thought that was actually talcum powder. I've been putting in on my feet!"
Mister Jonathan
About the Series:
Episode Guide

Episode Five: 'Home and Empire'

The occasion of a ball on the theme of Empire is an opportunity to place Manderston in a wider context. Homes like Manderston were built on the spoils of Empire and the international markets it produced. Their owners were men who became so rich and so successful that they saw the world as their oyster and the British race as the finest in the world.

A Raj Dinner
The tutor Mr Reji Raj-Singh has a very different angle on Britain's Imperial past. In life his parents were Indian and he was brought up in Fiji, which was once a British colony. In the house he represents the growing population of Asian people - many educated and wealthy, who spent at least part of their life in the UK learning the ropes of British administration. As tutor to nine-year-old Guy, he is keen to impress on the child what the Empire meant both to the British and to those brought up in British territory.

As a concession to his unhappy tutor, Sir John decides to host a Raj Supper to commemorate the Delhi Durbar of 1911 at which the new king George V was crowned Emperor of India. Amongst the 200,000 guests on that occasion was the father of PRINCE Moshin Ali-Khan, the Nizam of Hyderabad who now lives in London and has agreed to visit our Manor House. Joining him will be writer and journalist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown and broadcaster Krishnan Guru-Murthy. The hosts plan to serve a magnificent curry supper.

When chef retires to his bed with gastric flu, there's panic below stairs. It's too late to postpone the Raj Supper, on top of which they have a fancy dress Empire ball for 50 to cater for at the weekend. With Mrs Davies now in charge of the catering, Antonia, Kenny and Ellen will have to cope alone. With Monsieur issuing instruction from his sick bed they set about the task of cooking bhajis, samosa's, naan bread and curry. Their first test, to feed the Khatak dancers who are to provide the after dinner entertainment for the guests. Things are not looking good when the dancers aver that the curry doesn't taste like anything they've ever tasted before.

Mr Raj Singh is unhappy about the fact that the dancers are being treated like servants and having to eat downstairs. He himself has been treated as a member of the family. Like any caring Edwardian father, Sir John is keen for his son to understand that he is not being taught by a servant but by an educated and trusted gentleman. Unable to go below stairs and not quite family, Mr Raj Singh has found himself increasingly alone.

The isolation has particular resonance because of his race. He hints at this to the guests at dinner, who have already succeeded in rattling Sir John. But his comments about the restrictions affecting him in the house are seen by the butler as an abuse of the family's generosity and an insult to the staff. On the eve of the Empire Ball he is not a popular man.

But when Miss Anson (Lady Olliff Cooper's sister) returns after a period of recovery, he is greatly comforted in having someone to talk to - and sets about mending fences with the staff below stairs.

The Empire Ball
With the help of some school friends Master Guy is to put on an Empire Day play which will open the ball. Miss Morrison is to make the costumes and Miss Anson is to play Britannia while his friends are transformed into the heroes of the empire - from Lord Nelson to the aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps. Floral arrangements for the ball will be garlanded with pineapple and citrus fruits to represent the fruits of the empire and the chef will cook some of his boldest concoctions to date including dishes of ostrich wellington and kangaroo fricasse.

Amidst the jingoism and celebrations, writer and broadcaster Darcus Howe arrives to find out more about Sir John and his background. Darcus is one of the guests at the ball, who all arrive beautifully costumed as famous figures of the Empire. As the celebrations upstairs reach a crescendo, downstairs Kenny and Ellen read about the sinking of the Titanic. Some saw the event as an omen that the glamour and excesses of the Edwardian era were finally coming to an end.

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