WONERSH
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HISTORY SOCIETY
DIARY OF A HOUSEMAID From May 1919 to May 1927 Isobel Rose Seymour worked as a housemaid for Mrs Sudbury in Wonersh Park. In the summer of 1970, a few months before she died, Mrs Seymour talked about her life there. The other members of the Wonersh Park house staff were the cook, parlour maid, between maid (tweeny) and a house boy who cleaned the knives, polished the family’s shoes, shook out the rugs, brought in the coal and, in his spare time, helped the gardeners. Outside there were two gardeners, a gamekeeper and a coachman who, with the introduction of the motorcar, then became the chauffeur. Like all the house staff, Mrs Seymour ‘lived in’. Her hours were 7am to 7pm although her afternoons were generally free. She described Mrs Sudbury as a ‘just’ employer. The maids stayed a long time at Wonersh Park ‘because they knew where they were with her - she let you get on with your work without fussing’. Coal fires still warmed most of the rooms in the old house, but by then gas had been introduced in the hall, maids’ sitting room and the kitchen where there was a gas cooker. Through the winter months the family still dressed by the light of candles set in silver candlesticks or paraffin lamps. A gardener stoked the basement boiler to provide hot water for the house and there were by this time three bathrooms: Mrs Sudbury’s, one for the family and one for the staff. Although Mrs Sudbury went to Church herself each Sunday, her son John did not and she didn’t insist on the servants going. However, she was firm about Sunday being a quiet day and there were normally no tennis parties or special guests on that day, the entrance gate remaining closed. Tennis and bridge parties were, of course, often held at Wonersh Park and John had shooting parties on the estate. Mrs Seymour recalled how two of the peacocks, who were very tame, sometimes used to wander into John Sudbury’s study from the terrace and gobble up the cakes that had been left with his tray of tea.
Early 20th Century Housemaids - Wikipedia
“As well as taking her daily cold bath, Mrs Sudbury always liked fresh air in her bedroom, no matter how cold the night. A maid said she saw ice on the water by her bedside one winter’s morning.”
Wandering the Grounds of Wonersh Park (date unknown)