Manor House Rob Daly
"All I seem to do is clean knives and forks and glass all day every day and carry things upstairs and downstairs again...!" Rob, second footman
Rob Daly
Rob Daly

Watch the video diaries

The Second Footman: Daily Duties

The footmen relax in their bedroom in the basement
The footmen relax in their bedroom in the basement

Edwardian Life

A Typical Day in the House

How to Address the Family

The People: Rob Daly

Rob: Thoughts After Leaving the House, 2002

What expectations did you have about entering Manor House?
Before I moved into the house people kept asking what it would be like and did I think it would be hard, usually adding at the end that "You must be mad!", and apart from thinking it might be hard to live as an Edwardian, I didn't have a clue what it would be like to live a life removed from my own by over 90 years.

The first week at the house, and every bowl of gruel came as a big shock to the system.

I don't really remember the first ten days and the exhausting feeling of slowly starving as vividly as I remember the rest, and even though I thought everyday that I'd never finish the project, at the same time I think we all knew (with two notable exceptions) that we wouldn't quit either.

Do you think that taking part has changed you?
No I don't think it has changed me. Bit more focused perhaps, but that was more to do with the waste of time my life was before I went into the house than how I've changed as a person! (don't put that bit on the site!)

But when we first got out of the house and we all went to Edinburgh, Antonia and I were in a club at the bar when loads of people piled in and we both had a bit of a panic attack and legged it for the door!

Has anyone said that you have changed since you have returned to the 21st Century?
My flatmates said I was really quiet for a few days when I got back home. Being in busy bars was difficult for a while because I'd been used to never leaving the house and for the most part only ever being in a room with 13 other people, at most!

What do you feel you've learnt?
A bit about the history, and what it was like for ordinary people on a day to day basis. Also how suppressed they were, but how most of them probably didn't appreciate how unfair the system in which they lived was. I also appreciate now how little the world has changed for some people in Britain, and that's a terrible thing. Whether or not the masters of the house have been replaced by multinationals, being poor is still the same.

A maid came to visit Manderston who worked there in the 30's. There were no stories of fun and frolics, no rebellion and she had never pondered whether things were unjust then or if she was denied a better life by her 'benevolent' master!

Have you remained friends or stayed in contact with anyone from the household? Why?
I've stayed in contact with Antonia and Charlie (when I can get hold of him), Becky, Tristan, Mrs Davies, and of course Mr Edgar, and some of the production crew. Thinking about it, it must have been weird for the crew because after a while we were Edwardi-narnians and so they were the 'real' time travellers. I've stayed in contact with Nick and Caroline, Andrea, Donna and Ash (In fact went to South Africa with Ash before Christmas)

What did you enjoy most?
I enjoyed the right good laugh we used to have. Sometimes, (I think it was a mix of starvation and exhaustion) Charlie and I pissed ourselves laughing in the evenings when before we went to bed we'd discuss the day and all the soap opera style goings on. Someone, in the course of an average day, would without fail lose the plot.

What did you like least?

What did you find the hardest aspect of the role you assumed?
In the beginning it was the gruel combined with a really long day, sometimes from 6am till 2am the following morning and then up again at 6! It was also hard as we were all working so hard that sometimes when someone was having a really bad day, you couldn't really help, aside from the silent meals and the 10 minute tea break in the afternoon the only time anyone could provide emotional support was in the evening, but which time we were all to knackered to care any more! After mad Lucy left, Antonia had such a hard time, and it was horrible to see a friend run into the ground like that, and not be able to do anything about it.

What did you miss most from the 21st century? Did you ever give in to temptation?
That was the strange thing, other than toothpaste, there wasn't really anything, maybe a fridge would have been nice. No more mouldy milk and butter, oh yeah and Doom! The whole kitchen area was infested with flies, which just wasn't very nice really.

I have to admit, that I did get a tube of toothpaste smuggled in! No matter how committed I was to the project, returning to the 21st century with blackened pegs for teeth never really appealed!

Do you think that the 21st century can learn anything from the Edwardian era?
The house was different from Edwardian times in that none of us had grown up in service, as would have been the case for the majority of staff. As a result we all had to learn on the job. In Edwardian times there would have been a clear vocational career path for those who wanted it, and job security for life.

In the 21st century we are told through different media, that we can have anything and everything. Moreover that simply by wearing the right shoes or drinking the right drink we can 'make it'. Most of us spend our lives struggling for these goals. In Edwardian times you were expected to achieve nothing, through hard work and continued good health you could have a good career and live in relative luxury compared with many working class people of the time.

What did you like and dislike most about the Edwardian era?
Brilliantine was disgusting, as was one bath a week, and no deodorant. How we suffered!

Quite got into going to church on Sunday, the carriage rides were great when it wasn't raining and everyone at Duns and Edrom Parish churches were really nice. Also liked belting out the odd verse of 'Bread of Heaven'.

Someone asked the vicar if he would have 'Bread of Heaven' one Sunday and I couldn't go to church that day, then that evening I was serving Guy his food and he told me they had sung it, I was gutted! So the next week they played it again, and we all sang as loud as we could!

If you could have your time at the Manderston again is there any one thing that you would have done differently?
I don't think I would have done anything differently.

Did you find that the Edwardian setting changed the way that men and women related to each other? How do you feel about it?
We didn't really change the way we treated the girls, the separation of men from women as we worked just seemed to get in the way, and make everything take longer, we were all too tired and smelly to think of doing-the-do!

Any other stories you want to tell?
One day I noticed that the label in the back of my Sunday best trousers had Peter O'Toole written on them, when I got out of the house I looked it up and found that they were made for Peter O'Toole in The Last Emperor!

UPDATE: 2003
Rob has been working as a researcher at Wall to Wall (the TV production company who produced Manor House) and is now working on Regency House. He regards the experience as a "unique period of my life" and is still in touch with "pretty much everyone from downstairs".


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