Is it just me or have the chilly stone corridors become a little warmer and more welcoming now that Christmas is almost here? Perhaps it is the heat and the glorious smells coming from the kitchens, I don’t know, but everyone seems to be in the most jovial of moods.
Yesterday Jim, the odd man, John, the hall boy, and some of the gardeners erected the largest Christmas tree I have ever seen in the main entrance hall. They spent hours trying to haul the beast through the double doors, and what a mess of it they made! Florence and I spent just as long sweeping up the pine needles that littered the floor. Everywhere I turned there was a fresh pile of the little sharp green things. But all the hard work was worth it when I saw the magnificent tree adorned with candles and decorations that glistened in the light. Of course I only got a fleeting glance as the Marquis and Marchioness were expected back from London, but that fleeting glance was enough to warm the spirit ready for Christmas.
A TAPOMETER FOR TYPISTS: this week in 1935 it was announced that the United Steel Companies in Sheffield had introduced a novel scheme to increase output and relieve the monotony of a typist’s work. The machine was called a “tapometer” and recorded the number of taps made by each typist in a day. If the number of taps reached a certain standard by the end of the week the typist received a bonus of five shillings. To launch the new machine 200 typists took part in a typewriting contest in which two cups were awarded.
THE SECRET OF STILTON: The Times this week in 1935 provided its readers with Lady Beaumont’s Quenby recipe for Stilton. So here it is:
GERMAN BALOONISTS DOWN IN ENGLAND: three German balloonists had to make a forced landing in South Cockerington, near Louth, this week in 1935. They had been in the open basket hot air balloon for two nights and a day, participating in a race from Gersenkirchen, near Essen, to Norway.
THE POPULARITY OF THE CHRYSANTHEMUM: There was a society for everything in the 1930s – including Chrysanthemums. This week in 1935 the National Chrysanthemum Society, which was established in 1846, met for its annual dinner at the Connaught Rooms in London. Mr. D. B. Crane, chairman of the Floral Committee, and Mr. E. F. Hawes, chairman of the Executive Committee, were each presented with watches in recognition of their long periods of service.
AUSTRALIA’S CHRISTMAS GIFT: this week in 1935 Australia sent Britain a special consignment of lamb as a Christmas gift. This was the fifth year of doing so and in 1935 two of the recipients included Mr. Malcom MacDonald, Secretary of State for the Dominions, and the Lord Mayor of London.
THE OLDEST ROYAL SERVANT: A little story for the Living History volunteers at Ickworth House: Mr. William barker, the oldest Royal servant, died at Windsor this week in 1935. He was 91! He had been born on the Royal estate at Windsor and entered into the service of the Duchess of Kent (Queen Victoria’s mum) when he was 15. For four years his task was to wheel her about the grounds in a bath-chair. He later became a gardener and the vine-keeper at Cumberland Lodge. Under King George V he was granted a cottage on the Castle grounds for life and both the King and Queen visited him on his 90th birthday.
WALT DISNEY: an article appeared in The Times this week in 1935 chronicling the ‘genius of Walt Disney’. It stated that, ‘Mickey Mouse is the only public figure in the world today who is universally beloved’, and remarked, ‘in years to come, when most names which are now a by-word will have long been forgotten, it is probable that Mr. Chaplin and Mr. Disney will be remembered as the only two really great artists of this present film era.’
A KING’S BOUNTY: this week in 1935 a woman from St. Neots received the King’s Bounty (£4) after she gave birth to quadruplets. A container of human milk and four nurses from the Hospital for Sick Children in Great Ormond Street were also sent to assist in the care of the four babies.
A MAN WITH TWO WIVES: two different women claimed the body of a man at an inquest that was held this week in 1935, both claiming to be his wife. Frederick Kirkley (49) was an economist and died on Armistice Day. The coroner found a veridct of “suicide while of unsound mind”. He married Gladys Kirkley in 1909 and together they had three children. He deserted her in 1928 and sent his family £1 a week until 1931. During that time he had been living with another woman, having married her even though he had Gladys had not divorced.
LOOKING TO THE FUTUTRE: Have you ever wondered what the world will look like 100 years in the future? Well, The Times did this week in 1935. In an article headlined ‘Vision of Education’ the newspaper predicted how society and the education system would look in 2035. Prediction 1: economic problems would be solved and people will devote their, ‘main energies to living and not in providing the means for living.’ Prediction 2: ‘a sane and educated population would be brought up to look on international law-breakers as criminals and would never permit war to take place as a so-called method of settling disputes. Prediction 3: ‘the only sites which would be considered fit for schools would be in the projected green belts outside the industrial areas.’ Prediction 4: ‘with smaller classes the maintenance of discipline by old-fashioned methods of mass suppression would no longer be required. The difficult and troublesome children would be subjects for the psychologist and the psychiatrist.’ Prediction 5: ‘with a falling population and smaller number of births, a scientific rather than a sentimental point of view would prevail and the quality of the human species would no doubt receive as much attention eugenically as was now devoted to the quality of flocks and herds, pet dogs, and cage birds.’ OO-ERR
CHARING CROSS UNDERGROUND GARDEN: a miniature garden with lawns, shrubs, and a rockery was constructed at Charing Cross underground station this week in 1935.
THE NATIONAL TRUST COMES TO THE RESCUE: Under the headline ‘Saving the Beauty of England’ The Times explained how the National Trust had been gradually acquiring more sites of historic interest and natural beauty.
CHRISTMAS GIFTS: With Christmas just one month away The Times provided its readers with ideas on what to buy their loved ones. This week in 1935 The Times Literary Review was printed, offering an insight into the latest best-selling books. An article informed readers that railway tickets could now be bought as Christmas gifts. This was a new scheme for 1935 – members of the public could purchase and send railway tickets to their relatives and friends along with an invitation for Christmas or New Year. What a good idea!
The other servants at Ickworth have now become what I can only describe as my extended family. Quite how so cold a house could have become a home I cannot explain, but this is exactly what has happened. Mrs Seddons, the housekeeper, who filled me with such terror on my arrival, has shown herself to be the mother of the entire household. If you work well and follow the rules she is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. But I can recall numerous occasions on hearing her shouts echoing through the corridors, directed at some lazy or forgetful housemaid. The level of obedience she commands just by the sound of her approaching footsteps is awe-inspiring.
I have made many good friends during my time here. Rose Stringer is the name of the senior housemaid who has charge over me and another maid named Florence. Both these girls have become like sisters to me. We spend every moment we can spare together, gossiping and imagining our future lives as wives and mothers. Harry, a footman, Jim, the odd man, and John, the hall boy often tease us saying that we will never marry and will remain at Ickworth for the rest of our lives. The boys are always teasing us housemaids! But, then again, we are often teasing the boys too.
FLOODS: Heavy rain that fell during the weekend caused widespread floods in the south of England. It seems that the November of 1935 was an especially wet one. The Times reported that in the first 17 days of the month twice the amount of rain normally experienced in the whole of November had already fallen.
TV: It was reported this week in 1935 that television was now available to members of the public in Paris: ‘the first public television broadcasting station in Paris’, was opened, ‘the studio itself is in the Rue de Grenelle, and the transmitting apparatus is at the top of the Eiffel Tower. The full range of the transmitter is not yet known, but it will easily include the whole of greater Paris. As only a few amateurs possess television receivers public receivers at various points in the capital will be installed.’
ROYAL CHRISTENING: this week in 1935 Prince Edward, son of the Duke and Duchess of Kent, was christened in the Private Chapel at Buckingham Palace. King George and Queen Mary already his grandparents now also became his godparents.
ANIMALS AT THE ZOO: The Times reported this week in 1935 how, ‘an animal lover made a present to the Zoo of 55 Greek tortoises which he had brought, out of compassion, from a street hawker.’
ARMISTICE DAY: November 11th 1935 marked the seventeenth anniversary of the end of the Great War. Services were held at St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey with large numbers of people visiting the Empire Field of Remembrance at the Abbey. Over 300,000 women set out with 40 million poppies in the hope of raising money for the Haig Fund which helped the British Legion in its work for ex-servicemen and their families.
THE GENERAL ELECTION: this week also witnessed the election of Stanley Baldwin as Prime Minister (14th November). The image below shows Miss Thelma Cazalet shaking hands after she retained her seat in Islington East.