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

This Week in 1935: 16-22 June

16-22 June:

Disappearance of a Van-Load of Whisky – a van containing whisky worth £320 disappeared from outside a coffee-house in Rossmore Road, London, while the carman was having breakfast. The van was later found abandoned and the whisky missing. Two men were arrested, William Hicks and David Waiman. They pleaded guilty to feloniously receiving 165 pint bottles, 261 half-pint bottles, 12 decanters, and 45 cases of whisky. Both men were sentenced to time in prison with hard labour.

In the same week a Temperance Fete was held at the Crystal Palace. During the day there were solo and choral contests and a concert was given by junior choirs in the afternoon. A pageant entitled “Flowers and Temperance,” followed and during this the Temperance Queen, a Miss Mona Lena Hipwell of West Croydon, was crowned.

This Week in 1935: 9-15 June

9-15 June:

A Holiday With Umbrellas – this Monday was Whit-Monday, a public holiday. The Times reported that, ‘the early thunderstorm which broke over London made Whit-Monday holiday-makers hesitate how to spend the day. There was a possibility that the deluge that came at dawn might be followed by further rain, and although at 10 o’clock the sun had broken through the clouds, and the air was pleasantly warm, comparatively few people turned out until a later hour. Most of those who did set out for the country or the coast carried mackintoshes and umbrellas. Groups of hikers at Waterloo and Victoria stations seemed to be the only real optimists.’

Holidays in the Stratosphere – On the 12th of June Professor Roccard, ‘an explorer of the stratosphere’, was present at the Science Museum when the gondola of the balloon in which he made his 10 ½ miles ascent on the 18th of August 1932 was presented to the museum.

Space 1935


This Week in 1935: 2-8 June

2-8 June:

On the 7th June the prime minister, Ramsay Macdonald, retired due to ill health and was replaced by Stanley Baldwin. Below are three news-stories I thought were also worth a mention:

Courage of the War-Blinded – The Prince of Wales attended a Silver Jubilee reunion held at the Royal Albert Hall for the war-blinded men of St. Dunstan’s resident in London and the Home Counties. The Times reported that, ‘throughout the country there are now about 2,000 cases of lost sight as a result of active service in the War (WW1), and practically all of the men are under the care of St. Dunstan’s.’

A Lincoln Ghost – In March a girl was returning from a late dance and saw a figure in white standing under a street lamp. As she approached, the figure, extending at arm’s length the white garment which was being worn, started bowing towards her. She thought it was a ghost and was afraid. The Times reported that when she was seen by the police shortly afterward, ‘she was in a state of absolute terror.’ It turned out that this ghost was a Mr. Arthur Barlow. The 27-year old man was arrested on the 4th of June charged with stealing women’s clothing from the house where he lodged. According to the Chief Constable, Mr. W. S. Hughes, Barlow had been a source of annoyance in the town for some time by appearing in quiet public places dressed in women’s clothes and frightening women and girls. In his statement Barlow claimed that he had, ‘no intention of stealing the clothes, but had only borrowed them to dress up as a woman.’

The Kidnapping at Tacoma – The police-hunt was on for the men who kidnapped poor young George Weyerhaeuser (see previous ‘This Week in 1935’ post). Federal agents suspected that the Karpis gang, who had kidnapped Mr. Bremer, a banker, in the January of 1934, were responsible for the crime. One of the gang, a man named Volney Davis, had been arrested in Chicago and it was hoped that he would be able to throw some light on the case.