My Days – Chapter Three
When I was 16, I went into private service at Market Stainton with the Parker family. They were great. I went there as a housemaid. There were six servants. I enjoyed it. It was about three miles from home, and I used to pushbike home on my half-day. We got one half-day off in the week, and another half-day every other Sunday. We had to be in at 10 o’clock.
Mr and Mrs Parker had a son and a daughter. The daughter, Lydia, was great. She used to ride and went hunting. She looked great in her clothes. At night after the hunts, she used to come down to the servants’ hall and tell us all about her day. We used to ask her if they caught any foxes but she said, “we never do, we go for the joy of riding”.
Lydia used to go riding most days. Her mum was always after her to do little things. The nursery was still furnished, so Lydia used to spend a lot of time in there. When she wanted to go riding, she used to hide in there and call to us girls to look where her mum was. Lydia was 23 at the time, mind you. So, we used to find her mum then let Lydia out down the servants’ staircase and out the back door. Off she used to go, and soon after her mum was on the trot calling Lydia. “Have any of you girls seen her?” Of course we hadn’t! What fun we had.
I really loved living there. It was near home, and I had a boyfriend. His parents lived in Market Stainton and his sister came into the Hall once a week to clean which was very nice. There was a post office in the village, which was only very small. At night I popped out to the shop, hoping to see my boyfriend. Sometimes I was lucky, but sometimes I came back disappointed.
The cook and the kitchen maid at the Hall were very nice. If I had a bit of spare time in a morning and there was a dinner party at night, I would help the kitchen maid to pluck pheasants and skin rabbits. At night, when I had tidied the bedrooms, folded the clothes they had taken off to dress for dinner (I had laid the evening gowns out for them to put on), turned the beds down, and put hot water bottles in the beds, I would go into the kitchen and dry pots as there was such a lot. We all had our own jobs, but we were great friends and helped one another. For supper we had leftovers from the dinner party. It was great. I often think of the girls and the times we had.
Before I worked there, my half-sister Evelyn worked at Ranby Hall, only two miles or so from Market Stainton. The lady and gent – Haggs, they called them – went abroad for weeks in the summer and took some of their staff with them. While they were away, Evelyn, who was head housemaid, was short of a girl and asked if I would like to go and help her. Of course, I jumped at the chance to earn myself some money and buy some clothes as I had very few. Grace would give me a dress or jumper or suchlike when she’d finished with them.
So I went to live in at Ranby Hall. The kitchen maid and I shared a room – one bed of course. I never realised what my half-sister Evelyn was really like until then. She was awful. I couldn’t do a thing right. It seemed that she had never got on with any of the staff. The first Monday I was there, she was in the room at 5.30 calling me up. It went on for a few mornings, and the kitchen maid – I can’t remember her name – said, “we’ve no need to put up with this, let’s lock the bedroom door”. So we did. My, wasn’t she mad! I led her a dance, but I stuck it out until Mr and Mrs Haggs came home.
Mrs Haggs got me in with Mr and Mrs Parker at Market Stainton. That was how I got there. My half-sister never liked me after that but there was no love lost.