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My Days – Chapter Four

South Ormsby Hall

I went to work at South Ormsby Hall in 1932.

I hated it at first because I had nowhere to go on my half-day. I had been used to biking home in my last job at Market Stainton. There were a lot of maids at South Ormsby, and I didn’t really like it. I did like it at Market Stainton with the Parkers, but Mrs Parker wasn’t well and was always getting at the maids. The work got very hard as the maids kept leaving. Mrs Parker thought we could manage. I did like being there and I cried many a night. I wanted to go at first; it was my own fault.

Images above:

Left – South Ormsby Hall

Right – my boyfriend, Harry  

 

The boy I was going with didn’t want me to go. He said I was going to get away from him. I don’t know why he said that because I thought the world of him. It lasted a long time but I was too far off. He found another girl and it broke my heart. Harry, they called him. I still carry the photo he gave me in 1929. I often wonder if he is still with us. He would be in his eighties, like me. I would love to meet him. I know he married and had two sons. Some people do meet up after years, but I don’t suppose I will.

The last time I saw him I was waiting for a bus in Louth. He came out of Woolies. We had a few words, and he said, “I must go. I expect you know I’m married”. I said yes, he said goodbye, and that was the last I saw of him. It was very strange because the girl he married, Vera Fraser, was from our village, Donington on Bain. Bert, my husband, used to go to school with Vera at South Ormsby.

There was another strange coincidence. My half-sister Dorothy lived at Langton by Wragby in the school house. She had a son and daughter. The daughter asked her mum if she could bring a boy home for tea one night when I was there, and she said, “I will see”. Who should it be but Harry’s son! Thank goodness she didn’t go with him long. It would have been a laugh if he’d been the one she married. It’s funny how things turn out.

If I hadn’t gone to work at South Ormsby Hall I wouldn’t have met Bert. He was a very good husband. He couldn’t have been better. It’s no good looking back. I worked at South Ormsby Hall from 1932 until 1941 with Mr and Mrs Massingberd-Mundy. When I got used to it, we had some great times. She was a lovely lady to work for and gave us some great times.

Images above:

Left – at work (I’m top right)

Right – having fun at work – I’m on the donkey!

 

We maids used to work hard, but I loved the work. When we were full-up with visitors, we used to be up at 5.30 to get the grates and rooms cleaned. We used to sweep the carpets on our hands and knees with a dustpan and hand-brush, and once a week on Sundays with a Hoover or Ewbank push sweeper. When we’d finished that,  we took morning tea in bed to the visitors, and hot water in cans. Then the bell rang at 8 o’clock for all the maids to go for breakfast in the servants’ hall.

We had our days for everything. By the way, I was one of the housemaids.  On a Friday, we started scrubbing the steps, landing, bathrooms and toilets at 9 o’clock, and finished about 3.30.  It was all cream-cork lino. We had dust sheets down the stairs until it all dried, and then the next day we took them up until the next week. It really looked great.

When the son and daughter were young and living at home – after the nanny and governess – they had a live-in teacher and maid to look after them. The son and daughter used to roam around the Hall. It was quite something to get away from the nursery part where they lived. And didn’t they play us girls up, making apple pie beds and all sorts! They used to have lots of friends staying. It used to be hectic, I can tell you, but we enjoyed it.

Images above:

Left – Anne and Adrian Massingberd-Mundy.

Right – Adrian Massingberd-Mundy in Royal Navy uniform.

 

When we were scrubbing, they would come and pinch our buckets and things and hide them, then run over what we had done. We used to run them round, and their mum used to hear the noise and come to see what was going on. All she did was laugh and say, “you are naughty!”.

In the front hall there were marble statues. When their mum was out, the children used to go into the wardrobe and dress the statues up in her clothes.  When she came home through the front door, sometimes with visitors, there they were!

They called the son Master Adrian and the daughter Miss Anne. They both went away to boarding school. It was very quiet then, and the school room was closed down. When they came home on holiday, they lived in the rest of the Hall and had meals with their mum. Their father had passed away by then. We used to have a lot of their friends to stay. It was hard work but we got through it and had good times after.

Master Adrian finished boarding school and joined the Royal Navy. I have a lovely photo of him in his uniform. Miss Anne went into business in London. Neither of them married. Their mum hoped they would give her some grandchildren, but she never got her wish.

I got married in 1940 at the Hall. Mrs Massingberd-Mundy drove me to the church, and her chauffeur drove us back after we got wed. We had the reception in the ballroom at the Hall. Hansons of Louth did all the catering and waited on. Mrs Massingberd-Mundy paid for it all and even bought my three-tier wedding cake.

Image above:

Wedding photograph taken on the front steps of South Ormsby Hall. From left to right :-

Bridesmaids are Marjorie (Bert’s sister), Cecile (Bert’s niece), Joan (my niece) and Flo (Bert’s sister).

The best man is Horace (Bert’s brother). Herbert (my brother-in-law) gave me away. Beryl is another of Bert’s nieces.

 

I stayed on at the Hall for two years after we were married because Bert was sent to Leicester to learn to repair aeroplanes. When he passed as a fitter, I left the Hall to live with Bert as he was lodging with his sister.

 

After the Hall – a Nightmare

I left the Hall and went to live with Bert who was lodging with his sister down on Brant Road in Lincoln. It was the worst thing I could have done. She made my life hell. We stayed there about a year. The man who lived next door to Bert’s sister had a young person as a housekeeper, but they were called up for the ATS* . He asked us if we’d like to go and live there and keep house for him, and we did. I think we were there about four years, and I fell for our first baby, Raymond. He only lived a fortnight, after a difficult birth.

We had a dreadful time after that, moving from one place to another, looking after people’s houses for them while they moved around because of the war. We got tired in the end. We heard of a friend selling a caravan, so Bert bought it. It wasn’t a very nice life, but we were on our own and it meant a lot. We had only been married a short time.

 

Our Own House, My Heaven

I fell for David. When I found out, I was cross and frightened because of what I’d gone through with Raymond. I told Bert I wanted a house before he was born, and poor Bert got one in Bracebridge, down Russell Street. I thought I was in heaven, but he didn’t like it because it was on a passage that led on to the street. We were there 13 years.

David was born on January 3rd, 1952. It was a very good birth; only six hours. Life was different in those days. I was in hospital eleven days. We had the time of our lives. We used to push the breakfast trolley round the wards as it was just after Christmas and they were short-staffed.

Grace was looking after Bert while I was in hospital and she stayed a fortnight when I got home to settle me in. I felt awful when she left with Bert at work and a baby to see to, but I soon got used to it. Bert was a big help with David. He always carried him up to bed after his last feed at ten o’clock. Of course, he was in bed when his dad got home at seven o’clock, so he looked forward to his feed at ten o’clock. Then he fetched him down and gave him his bottle and, when ready, took him up to bed.

* During the Second World War, the Auxiliary Territorial Service was the women’s branch of the British Army.

Images above:

Left – Bert, David and me in Russell Street.

Right – David in Boultham Park (age 19 months).

 

David was a good baby. I used to get up in the morning and do what work I could fit in before he woke. When he did, I did all the usual things – bathing, feeding and everything – then took him out for a walk. I usually went to Boultham Park. It was just by where we lived. By the time I got back he’d be fast asleep, so I’d get the washing done, clean up and have dinner ready for night-time when Bert got home.

It was a lovely time, David growing up. We spent some great times out walking. My next-door neighbour had a little girl . She was about David’s age. We used to go into Boultham Park and meet up with other mothers. David learned to walk in Boultham Park, except for his first steps which were with his dad in the house. The next morning, I called out to Kath Thompson next door, “come to your door and call David”. The doors opened into one another. I put him down and he walked to her – with a little help, of course. It was great. You never forget these things.

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