Edwardian Life - in the ‘Lower Floors'

Downstairs ‘help’ 

·  Never let your voice be heard by the ladies and gentlemen of the house, except when necessary, and then as little as possible.

·  Always "give room" if you meet one of your employers or betters on the stairs.

·  Always stand still and keep your hands quiet when speaking to a lady or being spoken to and look at the person speaking to you.

·  Never begin to talk to ladies and gentlemen unless it be to deliver a message or ask a necessary question.

·  Servants should never offer any opinion to their employers, nor even to say good night or good morning except in reply to salutation.

·  Never talk to another servant, or a person of your own rank, or to a child in the presence of your mistress, unless for necessity then do it as shortly as possible, and in a low voice.

·  Never call from one room to another.

·  Always answer when you have received an order or reproof.

·  Outer doors are to be kept constantly fastened, and their bells to be answered by the Butler only, except when he is otherwise indispensably engaged, when the assistant by his authority will take his place.

·  Every servant is expected to be punctually in his/her place 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 of any description, or Oaths, or abusive language are on any account to be allowed.

·  The female staff are forbidden from smoking.

·  No servant is to receive any Visitor, Friend or Relative into the house; or to introduce any person into the Servants' hall without the consent of the Butler or Housekeeper.

·  Followers are strictly forbidden, and any maid found fraternizing with a member of the opposite sex will be dismissed without a hearing.

·  No tradesmen, nor any other persons having business in the house are to be admitted except between the hours of 9am and 3pm and in all cases the Butler or Chef must be satisfied that the persons he admits have business there.

·  The Hall door is to be finally closed at half-past ten o'clock every night, after which time no person will be admitted into the houses except those on special leave.

·  The servants' hall is to be cleared and closed, except when visitors with their Servants are staying in the house, at half-past ten o'clock.

·  No credit upon any consideration to be given to any person residing in the house or otherwise for Stamps, Postal Orders etc.

·  Any breakages or damage to the house will be deducted from wages.

 

Servants' Mealtimes

 

Meal Times
Servants' meals are "Breakfast", "Dinner" and "Supper" respectively whereas family meals are "Breakfast", "Luncheon", "Dinner" and often a late night "Supper". In both instances "Dinner" is the most formal meal of the day.

 

Beer Allowance
Beer is served at all Servants' meals, including Breakfast, at the Butler's discretion. Should a servant choose not to take beer, he or she may redeem its value as a "Beer Allowance." This will be paid in cash with the quarterly wages.

 

Seating at table
There is a very strict observance of where each Servant is to sit. The seating position reflects the person's position in the hierarchy. The Butler as head of the Servants will sit at the head of the table, and the Housekeeper will be seated at the opposite end.

 

The male Servants are to sit in order of hierarchy down one side of the table and the female Servants in order of hierarchy down the other. The first footman will sit on the Butler's right and the Lady's Maid on his left. No one is to be seated until the Butler indicates his permission.

 

Etiquette
When Upper and Lower Servants are dining together, Lower Servants should speak only when addressed by their superiors. At Dinner and Supper it is customary for the Upper Servants to take their pudding, tea and coffee in the Housekeeper's Room (Pug's Parlour). The First Footman will then be in charge in the Servants' Hall until the Upper Servants return.

 

Dinner
This is the most formal of all the meals. The Second Footman is responsible for signaling its commencement by ringing a hand bell. The Upper Servants are to meet in the Housekeeper's Room (Pug's Parlour), and then file into the Servants' Hall in order of precedence. The Butler, as head of the household Staff, will always lead the way. This ceremonious entrance is often referred to as the "Pug's Parade."

 

At Dinner the Butler should carve and send the plate down to the Housekeeper to serve the vegetables. The Second Footman will take the plates round to each servant in order of seniority.

 

                                                                     © Michelle Young 2012