Thursday, 20 September 2012

Servants’ stories

With quite possibly the nation’s favourite period drama back on ITV and Petworth itself starring in a few history programmes over the coming weeks (look out for us tomorrow night at 8pm on Yesterday channel in ‘Secrets of the Manor House’!), we thought you might like to hear a few stories from the servants’ who lived and worked at Petworth.

Today we have an extract from Phyllis, an under-maid who worked at Petworth in the 1930s…  

‘Ern, the footman, had a pantry just across the way and I’d see him in his livery, whistling away. Smart trousers, short jacket, waistcoat and white shirt. A footman had to (and did!) look the part. Sometimes I’d snatch a word with him on the stair but such levity was certainly not encouraged.

He’d take the food through the tunnel at meal times. It was then they’d come rushing into the kitchen with their trays, no time to waste or the food would be cold. By this time Ern and I were meeting when we could… time off was just one afternoon a week to be back by nine. Sundays off? Crumbs no, not in the kitchen. Yes, I must say I liked it there. It was hard work, at times it was very hard work but it was interesting.’

 I wonder what Phyllis would make of the cooking demonstrations we hold in the Historic Kitchens today? 

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