1 June: Living History Day – Gardener’s Choice

1 June: Gardener’s Choice:

Weather: Cool, windy.

The cooks are making recipes using the best of the seasonal produce grown in the garden. Early in the morning the hall boy was sent down to the gardens to ask what produce would be available, but the gardeners were not quick enough with their reply and Cook has had to improvise with what they provided. Of course it will smell amazing whatever she chooses to make. The house staff are ever so jealous of those who work in the warmth of the kitchens surrounded by all those welcoming aromas.

Lord Bristol often liked to get involved with work in the gardens. Mrs. Brunning, a housemaid, remembers how she saw glimpses of him in the gardens with his wheelbarrow and hoe, digging up thistles or knocking down mole hills. This would have been one of the few, if only, times a junior servant would have seen the Marquis. The image of an aristocrat covered in mud, on his hands and knees in the garden, was not what a housemaid would have expected when she joined Lord Bristol’s domestic staff.


Other glimpses of Lord Bristol:

Mr. Sadler, recalls how the Marquis preferred to ride his bicycle to council meetings rather than taking the motor car. ‘It was a three wheel too…you’d see him going down the hills into Bury like the clappers, he was faster than the cars in those days.’


Other news for conversation topics:

All: It is possible that some characters have family members engaged in farming sugar beet. This week in 1935 was important for these families as all sugar beet producers received their quarterly payment. Perhaps some servants have been invited home to enjoy a celebration meal.


All / Senior Servants’ Sitting Room: the Government introduced a new policy this week in order to reduce the high levels of youth unemployment in the country by encouraging young men to work on the land. The servants could laugh and joke about whether such unruly young men would be allowed to work on the nice ordered estate. What do you think about this government policy? Will it work? If you have any strong opinions perhaps you could consider writing a similar letter to the editor, or express your intentions to do so.


This Week in 1935: 26 May – 1 June

26 May – 1 June:

A number of interesting stories – so here they are:

31 May: The Salford Murderer was executed at Strangeways Prison, Manchester. John Harris Bridge, aged 25, was sentenced to death on the 3rd of May for having murdered his 26-year-old sweetheart Amelia Nuttall. Mrs. Violet Van de Elst, who had been conducting a campaign against capital punishment, waited outside the prison and as she prepared to leave there was a noisy demonstration. A number of women refused to allow her to speak and one shouted, ‘If it was your girl the boot would be on the other foot.’ Eventually the police intervened and, accompanied by an escort, Mrs. Van der Elst walked to her car followed by shouts from the mob of women.

1 June: From this date it was compulsory to pass a driving test in order to get a license to drive a motor-car.

2 June: The King had been very ill and The Times reported today that he had recovered from his cold and had taken a walk in the gardens with the Queen. The report noted that, ‘it was emphasized in Court circles that His Majesty’s cold was not in any way of a serious nature.’ King George V was seventy years old and died the following year (January 1936).

2 June: This story has the making of a Hollywood film:

‘An American boy called George Weyerhaeuser (9) was kidnapped 9 days ago at Tacoma, in the State of Washington. He was released yesterday morning after his parents paid a ransom of $200,000 for him. His captors left him on a high road at dawn near Issaquah, 25 miles from Tacoma, telling him his father would come and get him. After having waited vainly for some time the boy walked six miles to the farm of a man named Bonifas. He said, “I am the boy who was kidnapped,” and Mr. Bonifas, who is the father of 10 children, lost no time in starting with him in a motor for Tacoma.

Mr. Bonifas tried to get to the telephone operator at Renton on the way to let him into the office so that he might telephone to the boy’s parents. But she refused to open the office before 7 o’clock. Later he stopped at a petrol-station and telephoned to the police in Tacoma after he had failed to call the boy’s parents. A newspaper reporter went out from Tacoma in a taxicab and took the boy to his parents, both reporter and boy lying on the floor of the cab so that the former might get an “exclusive” story before his rivals knew of the boy’s whereabouts.

Young Weyerhaeuser said that he had been kidnapped by three men. They had told him there were six of them, but he had never seen more than three at a time. They blindfolded him whenever they took him anywhere, and when he was not blindfolded they always wore masks. He was able to give their Christian names and described the colour and make of the two motor-cars which they had used. Two of the men he had seen for a short time without masks while he was being kidnapped. They had threatened him with harm if he cried out, but they had not hurt him and they had fed him well. Once they had passed a car full of policemen. Sometimes when in the car they had made him lie hidden in a trunk.

He thought that one house on which he has been kept for four days was somewhere near Issaquah, but was unable to describe the outside of it because he had been taken in and out of it blindfolded. He had been chained up occasionally to keep him from running away.’

What a feat of endurance and bravery from a nine-year-old boy!

Ickworth Lives – May 1935 in Pictures

Spring Celebrations in the basement of Ickworth House:

King George’s Silver Jubilee and Empire Day

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Work as Usual


In the kitchens Mrs. Finkel, the head cook, Lizzie Cole, a kitchen maid, and Ethel Read, the new scullery maid, are busy preparing pastries for the parties that are being held both upstairs and downstairs


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Lord and Lady Bristol have guests arriving and the housemaids are busy preparing the rooms for the visiting servants.

Above: Beatrice cleans the senior servants’ sitting room.

Below: Head Housemaid, Miss Edgeley, observes as Violet dresses the bed for Lord Macclesfield’s valet.


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In the servants’ hall John, the hall boy, polishes the footmen’s shoes and Winifred, a lady from the village who comes in to help on particularly busy days, irons and starches the table linen


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Mr. Prosser, the estate manager, discusses business with the butler and Mrs. Seddons, the housekeeper, welcomes Miss. Petcher, Lady Summerleyton’s ladies maid.

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The house needs to be prepared for the arrival of the Bristol’s guests

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Rose dusts the bust of William Pitt in the west corridor and Mrs. Seddons inspects the housemaids’ work in the Library


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The table ready for tea in the dining room and the card table littered with the evidence of last night’s game

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Excitement brews in the basement

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Bunting is  draped along the basement corridors

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Jim, the odd-man, jokes with Violet

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Rose and Beatrice enjoy a break from work

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Empire Day

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“Hurrah, God Save the King”

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Head Housemaid, Miss Edgeley, might seem strict but she looks after her girls. Rose and Beatrice stand with her under the bunting in the servants’ hall just moments before tea is served

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Hall Boy, John, finds time to write a letter home

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The visiting ladies’ maids gossip over a little light reading

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Just one of the cakes served for tea

Living History Storyline – Empire Day

Saturday 24th May: Empire Day:

Weather: Warm, light wind.


‘Remember, remember, the 24th of May, today it is Empire Day.’

From 1902 to 1958 this day was designated a national holiday to celebrate the successes of the British Empire. Millions of schoolchildren throughout the country spent it participating in pageants and fetes, saluting the flag, singing patriotic songs, and telling tales of ‘daring do’ from across the Empire. These stories included those of General Gordon, Clive of India (a Georgian soldier who paved the way for success in the East), and Wolfe of Quebec.

But May 1935 was particularly memorable for other reasons too. On the 6th of May King George V celebrated his silver jubilee. He was a much loved King. The jubilee thanksgiving speech he made at St. Paul’s Cathedral was broadcasted throughout the country and warmly received. A recording of this speech can be accessed by following the link below.


Recording of King George V’s Silver Jubilee Speech:


Film of the Silver Jubilee Celebrations at Lowestoft:


Items for conversation:

21st May: Lord Bristol declines the offer of chairmanship of the West Suffolk County Council after holding the office for 21 years.

Wolfe of Quebec: there is a painting called The Death of General Wolfe in the library at Ickworth House.



Clive of India: in January 1935 an American film was made about the life of Clive of India (a statue of him stands outside St. James’ Park in London).



Diary of a Housemaid #6

Diary May

May 1935

George travelled back to Watford and I have not heard anything from him since then. Florence suggested that the postal service might be to blame but I am not too sure. I do not really mind anyway. There is little time to worry about silly things like boys with all the work I have to do around here.

‘Remember, remember, the 24th of May, today it is Empire Day!’ Yes, that day of celebration has finally arrived! I was not sure if the servants at Ickworth would be allowed to join in the annual festivities surrounding Empire Day. It is still, after all, just another day in a working household. When I was at school we were given the day off and would spend it singing songs, playing games, and listening to tales about the daring explorations of great heroes of the Empire. This was always followed by the national anthem, the raising of the flag, and a large picnic provided by the vicar and his family. I was pleasantly surprised to find out that Lord and Lady Bristol allowed the staff a glorious spread of food for tea. Although I had to work for most of Empire Day the sausage rolls and pastries made up for it. Cook even made a celebration cake. It was nearly as tall as my hand and she iced a Union Jack on the top. I did not get a slice as by the time it reached my end of the table only crumbs were left, but just the sight of it was enough. What a day!

Rose Bailey

This Week in 1935: 19-25 May

19-25 May:

On the 24th of May thousands of children throughout the country had a day off school to celebrate Empire Day. This day of festivities was introduced in the early 1900s with the aim, ‘to nurture a sense of collective identity and imperial responsibility among young empire citizens.’ Children attended fetes, sang patriotic songs and were told daring tales of adventure about the likes of General Gordon, Clive of India and Wolfe of Quebec, great heroes of the empire. In Lowestoft hundreds of children took part in a performance where every child wore a particular colour and  were then choreographed to form different shapes and patterns. The show concluded with them forming a Union Jack.

This week also saw the first ever cinema on a train. The London and North Eastern Railway Companies, in conjunction with Pathé Equipment and Pictures Limited, enabled passengers on certain express trains between London and Leeds to watch an hour-long film. The cinema coach was run first on the 10.10am train from Kings Cross to Leeds and then on the 3.15pm back again.

This Week in 1935: 12-18 May

12-18 May:

This week Mrs H. B. Tate, MP for Willesden, was adopted as a potential Conservative candidate for the Frome Division of Somerset. The Times noted that, ‘she believed that the time had come when a certain number of women should help represent the population’, and that, ‘she did not believe that women M.P.s should represent only women’s interests or that there was any such thing as women’s questions.’

A news story from this week that made a little less sense was titled, ‘Moth Frenzy’. After an advertisement was issued by the English House Copenhagen Company saying that, ‘Living Moths [were] to be Bought’ there was a frenzy where over 9,000 moths were sent in. 2,000 were delivered in bottles via the postal service. One man telephoned to say that he had caught a dozen moths which he proposed to deliver in a plain van and another offered a settee which he warranted to be full of moths. The advertiser announced that they needed moths for testing a new chemical that was supposed to make all fabrics moth-proof. It would be interesting to know whether it worked – if not that has got to be one of the biggest moth infestations in history.