Diary of a Housemaid #12

Nov DofHM

November 1935

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.


This Week in 1935: 17-23 November

17-23 November:

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.

this week 3

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.’


This Week in 1935: 10-16 November

10-16 November:

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.

This week 1

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.

This week 2


This Week in 1935: 3-9 November

3 – 9 November:

A ROYAL WEDDING: On the 6th of November the Duke of Gloucester and Lady Alice Montagu-Douglas-Scott were married. Here are some photographs of the stately event:

The bride walks down the aisle


The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester on the balcony



A family portrait


Princess Elizabeth eagerly awaits the married couple as they leave the Palace



WEDDING GIFTS: The Duke and Duchess of Gloucester received many elaborate wedding gifts. These included a set of turquoise and diamond earrings, a diamond tiara, two bow broaches, four chain bracelets, a cluster ring, fancy cluster earrings, and a cluster necklace from Queen Mary to the bride. Others gifts included thirty-eight water-colour paintings, a jewelled evening bag from the Viscount and Viscountess Hampden, a two-handled silver cup from the Cabinet and an antique oak hall chest from the Prime Minister. Princess Elizabeth and Princess Margaret gave their uncle and his new wife a pair of silver table lighters.


Diary of a Housemaid #11

October Diary

October 1935

As the days are getting shorter and the warmth of the sun is starting to dull the basement of this great house is becoming intolerably cold. It is a type of cold I have never experienced before. At our little cottage in Chevington the stove manages to keep the downstairs rooms warm enough, and at night I have my siblings to cuddle up with to keep snug. Before the housekeeper presented us housemaids with lovely thick woollen jumpers earlier this week every time I breathed out it was as though I had become a dragon with the amount of mist that came out. The other servants did warn me about the cold, it is true, but in the dusk of the summer it was hard to believe them.

I have been at Ickworth for several months now. Time has flown by so quickly. I remember the day I first arrived. It was terrifying! Compared to my neat little life in Chevington the confusing warren of stone corridors in the grand house were overwhelming. What if I could not remember my duties? What if I could not remember the names of the other servants? What if I got lost, and, most horrifying of all, what if I met His Lordship or Her Ladyship when I was cleaning the upstairs rooms? All these worries proved to be unnecessary as I soon fell into place as a cog in the clock-work of Ickworth life below stairs.

Rose Bailey


This Week in 1935: 27 Oct – 2 Nov

27 October – 2 November:

GHOULISH WEATHER: this week in 1935 the UK battled against gale-force winds. Gusts of 71 m/p/h were reported in Manchester and counties further north were swamped in a deluge of rain.

A STRANGE DEATH: The Times reported this week in 1935 the death of a professional killer. Albert Stein, a New York gunman who killed a man nicknamed ‘Dutch Schultz’ and ten members of his gang, was found dead in a cheap lodging house in Newark, New Jersey. He was found hanging from a gas fixture in a room full of gas. The article reported that the circumstances suggested suicide but that the New York police believed he was the victim of a ferocious gang war that was going on in the New York underworld. Stein was not a member of a gang. He offered his services as a professional killer to anyone willing to pay.

ALL SOULS’ DAY: this week in 1935 The Times printed a report detailing the story of All Souls’ Day. It told how in the tenth century an abbot of Cluny decided to follow the festival of All Saints on November 1 by a commemoration of All Souls. This observance soon spread and before long All Souls’ Day was recognised in the calendar of the Western Church. The article explained that this day, ‘corresponds so closely with a human need…the instinct which leads us to remember our friends in prayer. We are still united with them in love: we think of them as we believe they do of us, and sometimes their influence upon us is stronger than when they were still in this world.’

This Week in 1935: 20-26 October

20-26 October:


INVENTION: A Hungarian inventor claimed that he had managed to create an apparatus which emitted rays making objects on which they focused invisible. The Times wrote, ‘the idea of being able to make oneself invisible is, in the present troubled times, most attractive.’ Scientists pooh-poohed the invention stating that, ‘“invisibility rays” are a physical impossibility’, but a private demonstration of the contraption held in the Central Hotel wowed its audience. The inventor placed a chair with a dummy policeman on it, focused the rays of the machine on the objects and his viewers watched as the chair and dummy vanished from sight. What do you reckon – a fantastical magic trick or a fantastic scientific invention?

INSTALLATION: the next time you are walking down Fleet Street take a moment to glance at the clock on St. Dunstan’s. The church had stood in the same spot for hundreds of years and the clock of St. Dunstan’s played an important role in the horrific tale of Sweeney Todd (Todd send his apprentice Tobias to watch the clock strike every time he gave one of his customers a close shave). This week in 1935 the original clock, with its mechanical figurine chime, was re-installed at St. Dunstan’s.

HELLO, IT’S THE FUTURE CALLING: An article that appeared in The Times this week in 1935 reported that there was a growing use of telephones throughout the country. It predicted that this was the result of frequent reductions in call charges – the number of night calls made had trebled since 1934!