This Week in 1935: 29 September – 5 October

29 September – 5 October:

This week in 1935 saw three news items that would have proved particularly interesting for the domestic staff at Ickworth House in Suffolk.

NATIONAL NEWS: a new Lord Mayor was elected this week – Sir Percy Vincent.

LOCAL NEWS: most who live in Suffolk know about Culford School – a grand boarding and day school based in the old home of the Cadogan family. It was this week in 1935 that Culford School was officially opened.

PERSONAL INTERST NEWS: this week The Times reported the death of a London housemaid. Hilda Jane Thomas, aged 28, had been preparing some turpentine and beeswax in a saucepan on a gas ring – this mixture was commonly used for polishing floors. The saucepan tipped and the contents caught fire, catching the poor housemaid’s overall. She later died from her burns. The next time I complain about having to clean my apartment I will remember how lucky I am not to have to make my own cleaning products – hurrah for the slightly useless skwerty bottles and noxious polish sprays housed in my cleaning cupboard.

Diary of a Housemaid #10


September 1935

It is harvest time! I love this time of year! The whole family always goes to help Father in the fields. The boys join men from the village in cutting the crops, even little Alfred and he is only seven, and the women spend the morning making lunch. We then all meet for a huge picnic. This will be the first year that I cannot attend. I have spent much of my time this month staring out of the windows at the dusky orange light that tries to find its way into the basement. To be able to take a few hours each day just to go outside and breathe in the fresh air! On my days off this is exactly what I have been doing. I either walk the grounds of the estate or I walk back home. Mother often has a nicely fresh-baked loaf to greet me and my brothers and sister are always excited to see me.

I do not get so many chances to meet with my brother William though, as his employment in the village brickyards means that he is rarely at home when I am. However this weekend I received a note from him inviting me to go to the pictures in Bury St Edmunds. I was so excited! He borrowed Father’s cart and drove me into town. We went to see a movie called Top Hat. It was thrilling, filled with dance, drama and the most beautiful costumes. On my return to Ickworth I taught some of the other girls a number of dance moves I saw Ginger Rogers performing. Though I know I did not look anything like her, in my imagination I was in America dancing with the stars.

Rose Bailey


This Month in 1935: September

Having just returned from a conference (and holiday) in the US I thought it best to provide a summary of the most interesting and eye-catching stories that appeared in The Times this MONTH in 1935 rather than trying to compile weekly updates in the uber-busy pace of life in New York – so here they are…

1-7th September:

This week in 1935 witnessed celebrity drama – and students preparing for a new term:

A ROYAL PARTY: the Royal Family enjoyed a grand party at Balmoral to welcome Lady Alice Scott to the family. When she arrived her future husband, the Duke of Gloucester, was busy at a shooting party so she was greeted by her mother-in-law-to-be, Queen Mary. The Prime Minister, Mr. MacDonald, later joined the party after spending the day playing golf on the private Castle links.

A ROYAL FUNERAL: this week in 1935 saw the funeral of Queen Astrid of Brussels. She had been killed in a car crash and her premature death shocked communities worldwide. Queen Astrid had been an adored member of the Royal Family – charitable, approachable, beautiful and charming. King Leopold had been driving and lost control of the car, falling down a steep embankment and colliding with two trees, passing over a stone wall, and finally falling into a lake. The King was injured but he crawled to where his wife was lying and she died as he cradled her in his arms.

WELLS FALLS OFF A LADDER: H. G. Wells, author of well-known works such as War of the Worlds, The Time Machine, and The Invisible Man, was injured after he fell from a ladder this week in 1935. The 65 year old had been climbing an iron ladder to inspect the roof of a house rented by Princess Rospigliosi when he fell and landed on his face. Found by a housemaid he was transported to hospital in a taxi and suffered a temporary loss of the use of one eye.

STUDENTS TODAY – 1935: The Times reported this week in 1935 that the Mayor of Cambridge was unhappy with the state of modern students: ‘nowadays an old pair of flannel trousers and a sports coat seemed to constitute the wardrobe of the undergraduate whereas years ago the younger members of the University were regarded as arbiters of fashion and were invariably well turned out.’ And what did he blame for the shabby students? – motor cars. Not only were they putting coachmen out of business and creating a nuisance on the roads but the need-for-speed students no longer thought smart dress was needed when they were hidden behind a wheel rather than presented in a carriage.



8-14 September:

For a bit of a difference here are some adverts that appeared in The Times this week in 1935. It is not just the written word that can tell us how people lived in the past:















15-21 September:

FASHION NEWS: what were people wearing in the Autumn of 1935? This week The Times toured some of the more popular London shops and reported the results of their research. The answer was: trimmings of fur and metal! Debenham and Freebody offered new silks emphasising a metal note for its fashion-hungry customers. You could buy a black taffeta with ribbon stripes in metal and velvet or a georgette with tiny sequin stars superimposed on the silk. Glizty glamour!

WHAT – AND WHAT NOT – TO EAT: the constant debate about what we should and should not eat is not a modern phenomenon. This week in 1935 a study showed that meat was an essential element in a healthy diet. Of course, too much was not a good idea, but too little meant people were suffering from low stamina and resistance to illness. According to the report, ‘the London stockbroker who started the day with bacon and eggs and fish, followed by luncheon of soup, fish, entrée, and joint, and the same for dinner, was overdoing it’, but that the middle classes were not eating enough, ‘trying to live up to a stage of society they could not really afford, they had little to spend on food.’

MONKEY BUSINESS: This week in 1935 the people of Canterbury were being terrorised by a monkey. The cheeky chappy had escaped from Whitstable Amusement Park and had been loose for two weeks. It helped itself to fruit and vegetables and apparently had a particular liking for tomatoes – stripping the produce from grower’s trees and raiding larders throughout the town. The police attempted to capture it but failed miserably: ‘it was trapped in a conservatory with all the exits closed. The monkey took up a strategic position on the top of the cistern, and was only enticed down by provocative noises and by a policeman making faces at it. Strawberry nets were then spread, but as the attacking force closed in the monkey tore through the net, crashed through glass, and shortly afterwards gazed derisively down from the steeple of St. Paul’s Church.’

SPACE-SAVING STORAGE: A NEW INVENTION – anyone who has had to consult newspapers for research, historical or otherwise, knows that you can easily drown under a pile of deceivingly flimsy copy. In 1935 a new system had been invented to solve this problem. Rather than keeping original copy in files and boxes newspapers were now printed onto film and stored in reels. Microfilm – the arch nemesis of the newspaper researchers of today – was hailed as a progressive step in record keeping. Not only could newspapers be filed more easily but the safety-type film reels proved less of a fire hazard to public libraries and newspaper offices than piles and piles of paper.


22-28th September:

A week of boundary-busting relations:

THE NORTH AND SOUTH: this week in 1935 a new express service by the London and North Eastern railway was introduced between Newcastle and London. The train, which was named “Silver Jubilee”, could travel the 268 mile journey in just four hours!

THE BRIT AND THE AMERICAN: an article appeared in The Times this week in 1935 discussing the similarities and differences of British and American personalities. Mr. Harold Nicolson remarked that one of the largest differences that led to misunderstanding between the British and the Americans was temperature. ‘Friendships between Englishmen and Americans have been broken by the question of whether a room was too hot or too cold. He had met Americans who had assured him that during a visit to Great Britain the only warm thing they ever met was a whisky and soda. He had known Englishmen who had left America with great speed fearing apoplexy because of the heat.’ This received great laughter from those attending the American Chamber of Commerce luncheon held at Hotel Victoria. He also noted that though both Brits and Americans exhibited shyness this was presented in very different ways. ‘The Englishman’s shyness took the form of reserve, and the American’s took the shape of uncertainty. Suffering from reserve the Englishman said less and less, and uncertainty made the American say more and more.’

HUMAN AND ANIMAL: this week the Canterbury monkey was finally caught but it wasn’t by the police. An elderly woman had gained the animal’s friendship with gifts of bread and milk, bananas, and nuts and it finally became so trusting that it entered the house to feed from her hand. She then enticed it into a shed and locked the door. The lady, a Mrs. Ellenor of Cross Street, remarked that, ‘I could have cried when I thought how the monkey had trusted me.’







Diary of a Housemaid #9

dofhm august

August 1935

Every year Lord and Lady Bristol throw a party in the park for the women and children of the village. Long tables are laid out under the shade of the great trees, covered with a delicious assortment of cakes, sweets, and fruit. There is even fresh lemonade to drink. Of course we are too busy in the house to attend this event, but a few of us were allowed a brief excursion instead of sitting down to lunch. My family had been invited and as soon as they saw me my younger siblings ran over to give me a hug. This was the first time they have seen me in my uniform and I think that Mother looked quite proud. She didn’t say anything, but I could see it in her smile.

Soon it was time for me to return to the house, but not after I had eaten my fair share of the food. I also saved a slice of cake for Florence and some sugared almonds for Miss Stringer. They both seemed pleased with these. It was hard working with the noise of children’s laughter seeping in from outside. I just wanted to join in with the games. The window of the servants’ staircase in the west side of the house offers a beautiful view of the park, and here I sat for a while, watching the children having fun. How good Lord and Lady Bristol are to the people of the village. How lucky we are!

Rose Bailey

This Week in 1935: 25-31 August


This week in 1935 an article appeared in The Times that discussed the gradual replacement of horse-drawn vehicles with motor-cars. It discussed with nostalgia the, ‘lost heritage of noble coach-horses’, and the, ‘rattle of bits, the creak of harness, the crack of whips, and the halloo of coachmen.’ It reported that, ‘in London and other cities horse haulage is apparently on the verge of suppression’, commenting that, ‘the police and fire brigades have scarcely any horse left in their stables.’

This week also witnessed the establishment of an official organisation for taxi drivers driving motor cars. Gone were the days of the horse-drawn Hackney-cab and the Professional Driver’s Association sought to bring together everyone who drove a motor car for money.



It was also reported in The Times this week in 1935 that the UK had the sweetest tooth world wide. Over £1,000,000 was spent on chocolate and confectionary every week and the UK was the world’s largest market for importing sugary supplies – especially canned fruits in syrup. In 1934 a record level of canned fruits were imported to the UK – 173,000 tons! The most popular fruit was pineapple from Malaya, closely followed by peaches and pears from Australia.



This week in 1935 the big news was the announcement that the Duke of Gloucester (third son of King George V and Queen Mary) had become engaged to Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott. Here are some photographs that appeared in The Times: (do you recognise some of the bridesmaids?)


Times 2



This Week in 1935: 18-24 August

18-24th August:

Carnival Season:

This week in 1935 saw the tenth annual Southend Carnival, raising money for the Southend General Hospital. As was tradition the carnival began with the roasting of an ox on the seafront. The first slice was sold by auction and raised five guineas. A children’s parade, themed ‘Children Throughout the Ages’, a baby show, and a street procession followed. This year also witnessed a new way of illuminating the seafront. Instead of using fairy lights for the occasion floodlights were placed under trees, fountains, arches, and other locations to light up the town.

Voyage in a Bathtub:

The Times printed an unusual story this week in 1935 detailing the adventures of a Swedish man in a bathtub. The man had jumped off a Swedish vessel off the coast of North Queensland, Australia, setting sail in a wooden-bottomed bathtub. He aimed to reach New Guinea, some 50 miles away, in search of gold. He got lost at sea for five days and was eventually recovered and taken to Australia. One word sums up this story in my mind – RANDOM!

Not Forgotten Association:

This association founded by a Miss Marta Cunningham sought to improve the lives of disabled ex-servicemen by providing them with treats. This week in 1935 the Association hosted the fifteenth annual Thames river trip. 130 ex-servicemen who fought in WW1 and were still recovering from their wounds in London hospitals were invited on the steamer, Grand Duchess, sailing from Kingston to Weymouth and back again. High tea was provided, along with ices and sweets, accompanied by ‘humorous piano’ music. An admirable gesture of thanks to those who survived and yet sacrificed their lives on the battlefields.


This Week in 1935: 11-17th August

The Not-So-Great Escape of 1935:

This week in 1935 a prisoner escaped from Pentonville Gaol in London. He had hacked at the brickwork surrounding the barred window of his cell with a steel-tipped stick and climbed through the hole. Since his cell was on the second floor he then made an ingenious contraption involving a plank of wood and a rope pulley-system to lower himself to the ground. From there he managed to cross the yard and climb the outer wall of the prison. He was captured just ten minutes later. Warders found him utterly exhausted from his daring escape, hiding behind a door in a nearby shop.


Woman Saved from Cow by Sheepdog:

Occasionally the stories found in The Times in 1935 are so random that the only way to give them justice is to quote them in full…

‘A sheepdog saved the life of Mrs. David Thomas, of Tyddyndu Farm, near Barmouth, on Saturday, when she was attacked and seriously injured by a cow. Mrs. Thomas was driving cattle to a field after milking when a cow suddenly attacked her, and after goring her several times held her trapped between a gate and a wall. She cried for help and her favourite sheepdog immediately ran from the farmhouse. By this time the woman was badly injured and helpless on the ground, and the cow again in the act of attacking. The sheepdog barked loudly, and managed by jumping in front of the cow to draw its attention. The woman’s husband then came to the scene and managed to drive the cow away. After medical attention Mrs. Thomas was taken to the Dolgelley and Barmouth Hospital, where her injuries were found to include a fractured arm and serious leg injuries.’

Hurrah to all the trusty sheepdogs out there!


The Mechanical Informer:

This week in 1935 a new machine was installed at the Charing Cross Post Office that sought to provide customers with push-button information. Post Office clerks were frequently bogged-down by the inquiries of their customers and it was hoped that this machine would free-up some of their time. Subjects regarding mail, telegrams, express services, and the regulations of stamps were allocated a number. An inquirer would then press the button printed with the number of the question they wanted answered and a card appeared in a lighted aperture. This card included information printed in the Post Office Guide. Installed as an experiment at Charing Cross it was hoped that similar self-service machines would appear in other Post Offices around the country.