Diary of a scullery maid – September


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Written by Sienna James


Dear Arianna,

I write to you from my bed. It has not yet been two full days since dearest little Frederick was born, and for one of the first times he is sleeping.

His papa is quite awed, Freddie is his first child remember, and neither of us could be happier. In the recent weeks he has been turning our cottage’s attic into a nursery of sorts and I have been recalling the toys you and James used to play with when you were new-born babes.

Freddie was pronounced a ‘healthy lad’ by the doctor and is curled up, all red-faced and scrunched, but mercifully quiet. I am afraid this will be the last time I can write to you for a short while as Freddie will take up all our thoughts and attentions. He is such a dear thing.

When will you come to visit us, Arianna, to see your half-brother? Perhaps in a few months when Mr Fairfax and I have become more used to having a baby in our cottage. And James too, I miss my eldest son.

I shall say goodbye for now – I imagine Freddie will wake soon enough



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Gracious, when I picked up this letter this morning I didn’t know it would contain such news. Of course, I have expected it all through September but had heard nothing and so assumed that my mother would write a few weeks after her baby was born.

My half-brother, Frederick. James, Arianna and Freddie. I must say those names fit together nicely, but it is terribly odd thinking mama has a third child now. It was always just James and I. I wonder if he has heard too, perhaps I will visit him this Sunday.

Earlier, when I first read the letter, I spoke to Rose, one of the housemaids. Aparently she has several younger siblings at home and her home is just a walk away. I’m not sure whether I like that idea or not as being so far away from Derbyshire has meant I have been able to distance myself from mama’s new husband and family.

I can hear the trolley’s wheels clattering on the uneven stone flags. Dinner is on its way! I helped prepare some pasties for the servant’s supper and washed the blackberries for the pie Mrs Finkle managed to prepare with some of the leftover pastry.

Blackberries are such a wonderful autumnal taste, don’t you think? The blackberry crop in Suffolk is much better than Derbyshire’s too.

Here comes the trolley around the corner. I’m famished.


Diary of a Housemaid – September


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.


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The Hall Boy’s Journal

September is an odd month, isn’t it? The weather can either be as hot as July or as cold as a November evening.

Last Sunday was my half-day off and me being me, I decided to make the most of the decent weather while it lasts. Soon enough I’m sure we’ll all be stuck grumbling about the cold and huddled around the fire in the servants’ hall.

I didn’t see Ma and Pa as I often do on my half-day. Instead I thought I would escape from the servants’ quarters and go off on a jolly. Sometimes I’m so caught up in polishing this, folding that, scurrying after whats-his-name that I forget all about the estate.

But it’s a bloomin’ beautiful place, specialy   especially  when the sun is low like this.

Right, signing off now as I can hear Mr Prosser’s footsteps down the corridor.









Diary of a Scullery Maid – August

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Written by Sienna James


Ickworth is truly gorgeous in summer-time.

At every twist in the path flowers bloom in pink, yellow and blue. When Nancy and I walked a little this evening I noticed how a rose, coloured like a baby’s flushed cheeks, leant against the sandy brown of bricks. Really, it is an artist’s paradise.

“Funny, isn’t it,” Nancy began, twirling a lock of shiny hair around her finger. “Funny how the basement can be so stuffy and how we can complain, yet outside it is so peaceful and so pretty.”

We could just see the towering dome of the Rotunda, half in shadow, rising up above the shrubs and trees.