Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Servants' stories

So far we’ve heard form Phyllis, an under-maid who worked at Petworth in the 1930s and Dorothy whose father was a scullery man and this week we’ve found an extract from Horace Arnold remembering his time as a Junior Footman.

‘I started work for Lord Leconfield in 1929 at his London home in Bryanston Square. He did have another house in London but like many people of his social set he rented a house for the ‘season’. The salary was £30 a year and after nine months in London, I came down to Petworth. I was junior footman, sometimes referred to as stewards’ room boy. My basic task was to attend to the senior staff, an elite among the servants, Mr Wickham the butler, Mrs Cownley the housekeeper, Mr Coddington, his lordship’s valet and Florence Roper the head housemaid. Whether in London or Petworth my job was to take care of their meals and their dining room. I was only sixteen or seventeen. I’d be up at 7.30am to start the fire; I wore clerical grey morning suite but for this early part of the day an old worn one, my ‘scruffs’ as I called it. The breakfast was always cooked and I collected from the kitchen, the food was excellent.’

‘The chef was a woman at this time but I also seem to recall a Belgian chef but maybe he was only brought in for special occasions. The senior staff had a set menu, which I would need to know in advance so I could lay up the table, I would serve in formal manner at table, over the left shoulder. Dinner for the steward’s room would be eaten before dinner in the main house. When there were guests in any number I would go over to the house to help. The meal would be served in the Square Dining Room or if it were a very large party it would be in the Carved Room. Full livery uniform was worn by the footmen, - a yellow and blue stripped waistcoat, white shirt front, jacket of navy blue with silver buttons, smooth ‘doe-skin’ trousers and black patent leather shoes with a buckle.’

Here’s a ‘servant’ ready to serve dinner at our The 3rd Earl’s Christmas event last year.

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