Diary of a Housemaid #8

DofHM July

July 1935

This incredible heat has lasted for three weeks now. To begin with it was pleasant, the gradual warming-up of the corridors, but now the basement is like an oven. Work in the kitchens must be unbearable. One kitchen maid was sent to bed yesterday from heat exhaustion. Florence, Beatrice, Violet and I followed the odd man to the ice-store when he went on an errand for Cook. He dropped a few shards of ice when he was shovelling it into a bucket and we were quick to retrieve them. Jim knew exactly what we were doing, but he said nothing. For a brief moment, with that ice in our hands, we felt cool and refreshed.

The village school has shut because of the heat and last week my sister Iris, and one of my younger brothers, Thomas, walked from Chevington to see me. They were both red in the face from the sun by the time they arrived at the gates. I was so worried about them that I dragged them down the servant’s stairs and brought them to Mrs. Seddon’s room. We are not meant to bring our visitors into the house, but the kindly lady took pity and allowed Iris and Thomas to sit at her table. She even allowed me to stay since it was my half-day. This was meant as a gesture of kindness, I am sure, but I just felt uneasy being in that room as a guest. In the end Father had to pick them up with his cart. They received such a telling-off that I don’t suppose they will visit again, at least until the weather cools.

Rose Bailey



This Week in 1935: 29 July – 3 August

28 July – 3 August:

This week welcomed a bank holiday. Special travel arrangements were made to meet public demand. Many additional express trains were provided to bring the coast and countryside within easy reach of pleasure-seekers. According to The Times the Great Western Company expected to carry 3,000,000 passengers between the 2nd to the 8th of August. Ah, the ‘good old days’, when trains provided a service for their passengers.

Quick action this week preserved perhaps one of our country’s most beautiful features. The government urged for the protection of thatch houses as it was becoming popular practice to replace thatch with iron sheeting which was cheaper and easier to maintain.

This Week in 1935: 21-27 July

21-27 July:

This week it was announced that the slums at Chalk Farm, St. Pancras, were to be cleared with new flats built in their place. Also a Roman pavement was uncovered at Woodchester, Gloucester, covered in a mosaic detailing the Grecian story of Orpheus. According to The Times this was the largest mosaic pavement preserved in England and one of the largest in the world.


A belated This Week in 1935: 14-20 July

Back from a sunny holiday in Northumbria – so here is what happened in the week I missed…

14-20 July:

Drama: An electric cable fused in a manhole between the inner and outer walls of the Tower of London this week in 1935. A sheet of flames shot into the air from the manhole, which was blown up, and the fire brigade was called. A detachment of Coldstream Guards were sent to surround the Crown Jewels and The Times reported that many visitors, ‘regarded the experience as part of the thrill of seeing the sights of London.’

Medicine: The Royal Sanitary Institute Health Congress met this week at Bournemouth. The presidential address was delivered by Mr. F. J. Webb discussing the changing image of family doctors in the public mind. With increasing competition in the provision of a health service there was a growing concern that, ‘a complete revolution in the attitude towards the doctor and the problem of health in general could not long be delayed.’ The NHS was established thirteen years later.

Miscellaneous: This week celebrated the annual Kensington Kitten Club Awards. The best exhibit in show was won by Mrs. M. G. Cook’s Moormead Dinky Boy and the winner of the junior blue female competition was Mrs. A. Bird’s Cheekie Tripper. Other brilliant pedigree pet names included: Silver Jubilee, Theydon Hazel, Basildon Talisman, Silver Dollar, Posey of Croydon, and Piggy.

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: