The History of  
Hinchingbrooke House  

the Hart of Hinchingbrooke

hyncel

wylton

oliver cromwell

edward montagu

pepys

fourth earl

5th-7th earls

Eighth Earl

ninth earl

headteachers

housetour

school

 

Life in an Edwardian Country House

(adapted extracts from the Channel Four programme The Edwardian Country House.)

The servants, below stairs, would rarely be seen by the upstairs owners of the house. Look at the census returns for Hinchingbrooke and count how many servants there were and how many of the family they looked after. Without the servants the house could not function. However the ownersprovided employment and sometimes advancement.

The Butler was the most important of the downstairs people. He kept the servants away from the owners and the gentry and liaised between the two groups. He was responsible for the servants and answerable to the gentry. Look out for William Knighton, Butler and Steward 1861, Steward in 1871; Henry Cooper was Steward in 1881 and Butler in both 1891 and 1901. The Eighth Earl took particular care of his butler in 1907

The Servants' Rules | How to Treat Your Servants | A Typical Day | Typical Wages

The Servants' Rules

• Never let your voice be heard by the ladies and gentlemen of the house
• Always 'give room' if you meet one of your employers or betters on the stairs.
• Always stand still when being spoken to by a lady and look at the person speaking to you.
• Never begin to talk to ladies and gentlemen
• Servants should never offer any opinion to their employers, nor even to say good night.
• Never talk to another servant in the presence of your mistress.
• Never call from one room to another.
• Always answer when you have received an order.
• Always keep outer doors fastened. Only the Butler may answer the bell.
• Every servant must be punctual at meal times.
• No servant is to take any knives or forks or other article, nor on any account to remove any provisions, nor ale or beer out of the Hall.
• No Gambling, or Oaths, or abusive language are allowed.
• The female staff are forbidden from smoking.
• No servant is to receive any Visitor, Friend or Relative into the house.
• Any maid found fraternising with a member of the opposite sex will be dismissed without a hearing.

• The Hall door is to be finally closed at Half-past Ten o'clock every night.
• The servants' hall is to be cleared and closed at Half-past Ten o'clock.
• Any breakages or damage to the house will be deducted from wages.

How to Treat Your Servants

Master and Servant Relationship
All Family members should maintain appropriate relationships with the Staff. As Upper Servants will work directly to the Family, a trusting and respectful relationship should be established.
Your Footmen are a proclamation of your wealth and prestige. They are representatives of your Household and Family and as such it is advantageous that you develop a good relationship. However, as Lower Servants, they do not expect to be addressed outside the receipt of instructions.
While the Housemaids will clean the House during the day, they should make every care and attention never to be observed by you doing their duties. If by chance you do meet, you should expect them to "give way" to you by standing still and averting their gaze, whilst you walk past, leaving them un-noticed. By not acknowledging them, you will spare them the shame of explaining their presence.

How to Address your Servants
• The Butler should be addressed courteously by his Surname.
• The Housekeeper should be given the title of "Missus ~".
• The Chef de Cuisine should be addressed as such, or by the title "Monsieur ~".
• It is customary for your Lady's Maid to be given the title of "Miss ~", regardless of whether she is single or married. It is however acceptable for the Mistress to address her by her Christian name.
• A Tutor should be addressed by the title of "Mister ~".
• It is very much the custom in the old houses that, when entering into new Service, Lower Servants adopt new names given to them by their Masters. You may follow this tradition and rename certain members of your Staff. Common names for matching Footmen are James and John. Emma is popular for Housemaids.
• It is not expected that you take the trouble to remember the names of all your Staff. Indeed, in order to avoid obliging you to converse with them, Lower Servants will endeavour to make themselves invisible to you. As such they should not be acknowledged.

A Typical Day in 1901

Look at the census returns for 1901 to see the list of servants at Hinchingbrooke in April 1901. Other servants such as the valet and lady's maid may be with the Earl and his wife, perhaps at their town house in London.

6.00am
Scullery maid Louisa Smith gets the kitchen range hot enough to boil the water for tea.
The Hallboy or Harry the odd job man cleans the boots and empties the chamber pots.
6.30am
Housemaids Elizabeth Wass, Lily Hagram and Mary Usher dress in their attic rooms then come downstairs in the basement kitchen to make tea and toast for the Countess of Sandwich's Lady's maid and Elizabeth Howe the housekeeper.
First Housemaid Elizabeth Wass delivers tea and toast, then down again to clean the main rooms on the ground floor. She tidies, dusts and polishes the furniture and runs the sweeper over the carpets.
Meanwhile, the second housemaid, Lily Hagram, has to get the fires going all round the house using the coal from the coal hole, the logs and kindling chopped by the Hallboy or Harry Hill the odd job man the night before.
Louisa Smith the scullery maid should already be in the scullery, making sure all the washing-up from the night before has been done and the floor is swept. She's joined by the kitchen maid Sarah Ann Taylor, who puts breakfast together for the servants. Now the chef appears and makes breakfast for the family.
8.15am
The bell for the servants' breakfast sounds and the servants meet in the servants quarters for bowls of porridge, cups of tea and bread and butter.
As soon as breakfast is finished, the lady's maid, who has already taken tea and toast to the Countess of Sandwich in her bedroom, must hurry upstairs to run a bath for her mistress, help her dress and do her hair.
The butler, Henry Cooper, knocks on the Earl of Sandwich's door, to carry out his morning role as valet and barber.
Footmen George Gregor, George Andrews and Charles Dale bring up the food and lay the table in the dining room for the family's breakfast.
9.15am
The bell rings for family prayers. This is the one time of the day that some of the lower servants will see their masters. The downstairs staff gather in the main hall, and wait for the family to read prayers. This is also a time when the Earl will be able to announce congratulations or punishments to his staff.
As soon as prayers are over, the family go in and sit down to a full Edwardian breakfast prepared by their Cook Sarah Rogers or French chef (in 1881 it was Felix Dazar), consisting of fruit, eggs, sausages, perhaps a pair of kippers, some kedgeree or perhaps devilled kidneys. They are served by Mr Cooper, the butler, and George Gregor, the first footman, in full livery.
Upstairs, George Andrews, the second footman gives breakfast to those children who are not away at boarding school.
10.00am
Monsieur Dazar has been preparing the family's lunch for some time now, and "Missus" Elizabeth Howe the housekeeper bakes bread.
She changes into a clean apron and hurries up to the morning room for her daily meeting with The Countess to discuss the day's business - what's for lunch, when m'lady will go riding, and who's coming for dinner.
Meanwhile, Mr Cooper the butler begins his daily meeting with the Earl in the business room.
10.30am
Each of the servants now settles into their regular chores - Jane Dunford the lady's maid works on a dress for the Countess; Elizabeth cleans the bedrooms, Harriet and Florence sort out the laundry, George Andrews, the second footman, is on front door duty, ushering in guests while George Gregor, the first footman, is down in the butler's pantry polishing silver, chatting with Harry, the "odd job man", who is sharpening the knives.
Missus Howe has phoned her food orders to the suppliers and deliveries have been made into the cool, tiled larders assisted by Ann the dairy maid and Charlotte the stillroom maid who looks after the tea, coffee, preserves and cakes. James Barron the Head gardener will have seen to it that fresh vegetables are provided from the grounds.
Meanwhile in the kitchen it is hot, steamy and a hive of activity. Louisa the scullery maid is washing up pots and pans and trying to keep up with M Dazar as he both cooks lunch and plans dinner. At the same time Sarah Ann, the kitchen maid, is cooking the servants' main meal of the day to be served at twelve o'clock (known as dinner).
11.00am
The servants gather in the servants' hall for morning tea. Mr Cooper and Missus Howe, with instructions from their masters, issue their own orders to the lower staff, before sending them off to continue their morning duties. The footmen now turn towards laying the table for the family's lunch.
12.00pm
The servants sit down for their well-deserved dinner. But there's not much time to hang around since the family take lunch at 1 p.m. and Mr Cooper, John the under butler, the three footmen, and the kitchen staff are all involved…
1.00pm
The family are served lunch by Mr Cooper and the footmen - always a three-course meal.
2.00pm
After lunch, the meal has to be cleared and the washing-up done in the butler's pantry while the scullery maid washes the servants' crockery, then everything has to be put away again. Lilly and Mary check on the fires, the lady's maid (Jane Dunford in 1881) obeys her third or fourth summons of the day upstairs, this time to help the Countess change into her tea gown.
Other members of the family and their house guests want to go riding, so Elizabeth goes to help the ladies get ready, and George is summoned to help the gentlemen. Down in the stables, Arthur, William and George the grooms saddle the horses.
3.00pm
While Mrs Davies is in the kitchen with Charlotte making scones and cakes for the family's tea, the lower servants may be lucky enough to have a couple of hours to themselves.
5.00pm
The family take tea in the drawing room, often with their guests, some of whom may have arrived in the coach and horses driven by coachman George Papworth and suported by a groom.
6.00pm
The basement is buzzing again: the servants eat supper at 6 pm - a smaller meal than at midday. A five-course dinner is to be served upstairs at 8 pm, so everyone is hard at work, including laundry maids Harriet and Florence who must wash and replace napkind and table cloths after every meal.
7.00pm
As first footman, George sounds the gong at 7pm to alert the family and their guests that it is time to go up to dress for dinner
8.00pm
Dinner is served upstairs. Five courses, with wine, and footmen and butler in attendance. If there are guests, those servants will be expected to stay upstairs to wait on the family during the rest of the evening as well so it's fortunate Hinchingbrooke has three footmen and an under butler to support Cooper.
During family dinner, Elizabeth will be hard at work once again clearing up the bedrooms after the family and any guests have spent an hour getting changed in them. She picks up clothes, draws the curtains, and lays out the night wear.
9.00pm
The footmen clear from dinner while the maids start on the crockery and laundry. Once this is finished the footmen can start on the glass, silvers and cutlery, ensuring that male and female servants work separately at all times.
The Lady's maid and Elizabeth the first house maid will stay up until the ladies are ready to retire, and when the bell rings, they will go to help the Countess prepare for bed.
10.30pm, or often much later
The last task of a long day is for Mr Cooper to check that all the lights are out and the doors secured.
Outside the House the gardens have been tended by James Barron, Head Gardener and his assistants Stevens, James, William and Thomas.

Typical Annual Wages - 1901

Member of staff Yearly wages 1910 in £ Yearly wages approx value 2002 in £
Butler £60 £3662
Housekeeper £45 £2746
Chef £80 £4883
Ladies maid £32 £1953
Kitchen maid £24 £1465
First footman £26 £1587
Second footman £24 £1465
First housemaid £28 £1709
Second housemaid £22 £1342
Scullery maid £12 £732
Coachman £18 £1098
Hallboy £16 £976

For other estimates see:John J. McCusker, "Comparing the Purchasing Power of Money in Great Britain from 1600 to Any Other Year Including the Present" Economic History Services, 2001, URL : http://www.eh.net/hmit/ppowerbp/
Using the wages above and the number of servants listed in the 1901 census calculate how much Lord Sandwich paid out per year in wages for his staff. (Count grooms as coachmen, laundry maids as scullery maids)

Timeline

Other Links

Census