Living History Day: Sunday 13th July

Summer Puddings:

Weather: Very warm (35.c).


The Family like to spend Sunday afternoons having a picnic by the pond in the walled garden. After the service has been held at the Church they walk to the garden and the staff are working extra hard so the chairs, tables and food are all laid out ready for the Family when they arrive.

The odd-man, footmen and hall boy are busy preparing the hampers that are to be brought to the gardens. The tables and chairs will be carried down by horse and cart, but the hampers will be taken by hand.

For some the morning stresses are easily overcome as they are looking forward to their half-day off. What plans do you have? Perhaps you are visiting nearby family for a picnic of your very own? Maybe a few of you are going into Bury to watch a film? Perhaps you are just looking forward to a lazy walk in the sun, sitting beside the Fairy Lake, getting lost in the hazy shade of the woods?


Ladies-maids and Pot Pourri:

In the summer months ladies-maids would busy themselves making a perfume known as pot pourri. They collected flowers throughout the year and dried them. These would then be rubbed in a deep bowl with Oil of Cloves. All the ingredients would then be layered together, with bay salt between each layer, and placed in rooms to overcome any unwanted smells.

This might be an activity for the ladies-maids today – all you need are dried flowers and dried fruit / or even just a pot pourri mix from a shop and add dried flowers to it.


Recreation for Half-Days:

July film: The Black Room Mystery – starring Marian Marsh – she is the lady on the front cover of the yellow Picturegoer magazine in the Servants’ Hall.

This Week in 1935: 7-13 July

7-13 July:

Crime News:

A case of libel was brought against Mr Randolph Churchill in Manchester by Sir Thomas White. Randolph was the son of Winston Churchill. I wonder what he thought of the charge.

In America a gambling barge called the Monte Carlo anchored off the coast of Long Beach, California, was attacked by pirates. Over $22,000 in cash and $10,000 worth of jewels were stolen. The gang boarded the ship early in the morning armed with pistols, rifles, and sawed-off shotguns. They held up the cashier, his wife, and a crew of thirteen. After completing the robbery they fastened the crew to the deck with manacles and locked the cashier with his wife in the safe.

Medical News:

This week it was agreed by the Grand Council of the British Empire Cancer Campaign that all research conducted in the fight against cancer would be coordinated. All the teaching hospitals in London, the medical committee of the London County Council, and a number of specialized hospitals all agreed to take part.

This week also saw a conference on ‘the persisting effects of War neuroses’. It was held at the Hyde Park Hotel and investigated cases of shell shock seventeen years after the Great War.

Miscellaneous News:

An advertisement printed this week warned its readers of a potential anthrax scare. Titled ‘Searching for an Infected Shaving Brush’ it explained how a doctor was searching for the last of twelve shaving brushes that were infected with anthrax after a man died.

On a lighter note this week hosted the London Costers’ Parade. A part of this event was the annual Pony and Donkey Show. Costers from all over the city brought their loyal steads to be judged in Regent’s Park, all hoping that they would win a prize. Mr Frederick Newman’s Old Bill won the prize for the oldest donkey in good condition and Mr Tom Newman’s Mike won the Queen Alexandra’s Challenge Cup for the best donkey in show.

Living History Day: Saturday 5 July

5 July: Newmarket Races:

Weather: Warm, cloudy.

The three-day race meeting in July starts with Ladies Day. The Family were well situated at Ickworth to easily travel to Newmarket for racing days and Lady Bristol has guests visiting to attend the opening event. The ladiesmaids are spending the day preparing fashionable hats, spectacular hair-dresses, and other accessories for the big day.

The Henley Royal Regatta was held just a few days before (on the 3rd and 4th of July) and the ladiesmaids might draw their inspiration from the photographs of fashionable ladies that appeared in The Times and gossip magazines.

The men are more interested in horses and the stakes, caring little about feathers, pearls, lace and flowers.



Footage of the 1935 Henley Royal Regatta:

The Newmarket stakes for the 5th July 1935:


Week in 1935: 30 June – 6 July

30 June – 6 July:

2 July marked the 400th anniversary of the death of St. Thomas More. A service was held at Chelsea Old Church on the Chelsea embankment.

This week was also marked by a spate of unrelated fires throughout Europe. In England two firemen were killed as a wall collapsed on them when they were battling a factory fire in Poplar. The factory was situated in a very confined area crowded with factories and small dwelling houses. It was lucky that the fire did not spread.

In Berlin eight people were killed as an aeroplane crashed into a house. The plane had been performing an experimental flight and crashed through the roof of a one-storey house that belonged to a caretaker and his wife. They had just sat down to their midday meal and were counted among the dead. Several flats in the neighbouring building were gutted as flames engulfed the house that had been drenched in fuel from the freshly filled tank. The reason for the crash was never discovered.

Another mystery concerning a fire occurred this week in Paris. A villa in the suburbs of the city exploded when the owner, a Mme. Sol opened the door. She was buried in the wreckage and died in hospital later that evening. Investigations into the explosion found that the gas had been turned off at the mains and it was thought that a bomb might have been placed in the building. It was then reported that Mme. Sol had sent a message to the local police asking to speak with the commissioner. Local rumours suggested that she had enemies in the district. These rumours were soon hushed when the truth came out. Mme. Sol had killed herself. Terrified by threats made against her and strained by monetary difficulties she had tried to burn down the villa. A blood-stained box of matches was found clenched in her hand. She prepared the fire by pouring petrol into trunks full of clothes and, retreating to the entrance hall, dropped a lighted match down the stairs leading to the basement. Instead of the fire she had expected the fumes of petrol exploded – and that was that.

Living History Event: Saturday 28 June


Weather in 1935: Warm, sunny.


Lord and Lady Bristol have a small gathering of guests who are staying for the week, including four of their grandsons, the children of Lord Erskine and his wife Lady Marjorie. The boys love nothing more than a game of tennis and have spent every day of their visit so far on the South Lawn playing a mini-tournament.

John Gayfer, hall boy and footman at Ickworth House in the 1930s, remembers how he was encouraged to keep the Erskine boys entertained, taking them around the gardens. He hated this because they were anything but fun. He was also encouraged to play tennis with the younger relatives of Lord Bristol who could find no-one else to practice with.

The younger house staff are jealous that the hall boy can enjoy such freedom and are finding it hard working through the sounds of laughter that filter through the windows and echo around the basement.


Conversation topics for actors:

All: when you find a bit of spare time you might want to sneak a peek of the tennis match – the window by the bathroom on the first floor might offer a view / or the housemaids cleaning the Pompeian corridor might peer through the windows etc.

Senior Servants’ Sitting Room: on the 7th June the Prime Minister, Ramsay MacDonald, retired because of his old age and Stanley Baldwin took over. What are your opinions on this?

Ramsay MacDonald was losing favour amongst the people. His physical and mental health were in decline from the early 1930s and he was becoming an ineffective leader. His speeches became more and more incoherent.

Stanley Baldwin had already been PM twice before 1935, in 1923-4 and 1924-9.

[see newspaper clippings attached]


Other News:

On the 28th of June the first feature-length three-colour film was aired: Becky Sharp (Vanity Fair), starring Mirium Hopkins. Though none of the housemaids would have a chance to pay the high price to see the film they could chat about it having read an article about the film in the press and in film magazines.

The trailer for the film can be accessed at:


Images from The Times: The Downing Street Shuffle:




This Week in 1935: 23-29 June

23 June – 29 June:

A report was laid before the Westminster City Council by the Improvements, Law and Parliamentary, and Traffic and Public Lighting Committee suggesting that a new bridge be built in Charing Cross. The report stated that, ‘additional cross-river facilities will, before many years, have to be provided to meet the needs of the unending growth of London, the more intensive development of the West End, and the eve-increasing number of motor-vehicles.’ How funny to think of the Thames without all the bridges criss-crossing this way and that linking the two sides of London.

And funny again to think of this next story – sometimes I am surprised to find that things I associate with the modern world, and my life, also existed in the past. On the 30th of June the Duchess of York attended the Founder’s Day celebrations at Barnardo’s Girls’ Model Village in Essex. ‘After driving through the village, in which were 1,500 girls and infants, the Duchess of York launched a small balloon bearing a message appealing for funds. Immediately hundreds of similar balloons were released.’ I remember doing something similar as a child. Do you?

Diary of a Housemaid #7

Diary June

June 1935

There are guests staying in the house, including Lord Erskine and his family. I always enjoy it when Lord Erskine visits as he insists that dinner should be followed by a savoury course rather than dessert. This throws the kitchen into disarray. I will not repeat the language I heard from the cook when she was first told. He is the son-in-law of Lord and Lady Bristol and his sons who are also visiting all enjoy a game of tennis. I have spent these past three days listening to the sounds of lively tennis matches being played on the South Lawn. Some of the more senior housemaids have been asked to attend these games; serving sandwiches, cakes, and lemonade to the family. I wish I could in.

We have a competition of our very own going on downstairs. A few weeks ago John taught me how to play draughts, a strange game played on a black and white board. A ‘match’ can go on for hours and it is so funny to see the level of concentration that we all put in to it. The two teams are pretty straightforward, it is the hall boy versus the housemaids, and John is winning. I think he has only taught us some of the rules and is keeping handy tips and strategies to himself. Even so, we are determined to win. One day the housemaids will be victorious! Ha, how silly over a game of draughts!

Rose Bailey