Culture and Entertainment

The Staff of Craig-y-Nos

The Staff of Craig-y-Nos
The Staff of Craig-y-Nos.
The chef Adami is framed in the doorway, on the right.
Patrocini sits at the extreme right
Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery

During her years married to Ernest Nicolini, Adelina Patti hosted many parties and performances at the Castle and needed a large staff for her lavish lifestyle. At one stage there were seventy, which brought a considerable amount of work and prosperity into the local community. She was a very loyal and generous employer and seems to have been adored by them She cared for her staff even after they were no longer employed by her, allowing them to live in the castle if they had nowhere else to go.

Ethel Rosate-Lunn, who went to work for Madam Patti in the early twentieth century, recalls that the staff ". . . lived together like a happy family." She also recalled how Madame would:

". . . often invite the staff to dress in any fancy dress available and assemble after dinner in the billiard room. Madame, too, would often dress in fancy dress; generally it was a dress that she had worn in opera, and for a while she would enjoy herself with us. Then she would turn to Daniel Longo, the butler, and say 'Pop the corks Longo', this being the signal for the drinks, and we would all, Madame included, drink a glass of champagne or port. I well remember a night when she entertained us by dancing and playing the castanets. What a delightful figure she made as she danced and played in Spanish costume."

Christmas was also a happy time for the staff at Craig-y-Nos. However, the revelries were few and far between during Madame's final marriage to Baron Cederstrom and only occurred when he was away. It would seem that the Baron was mindful of the need for the household to be rather more careful with money than was Madame's custom.

Madame was not at home when the 1891 census was taken but her household consisted of the following people, drawn from far and wide:

1891 Census
Craig-y-Nos Castle, Ystradgynlais Higher
Name Position in
Age Occupation Place of Birth English/Welsh
Signor Nicolini Head M 66 Living on his means Tours France French, English, Italian, Spanish
A Nicholas Visitor M 68 Living on his means Tours France French, English
Wilh Heck Serv S 40 Steward Malmedy Germany German, ?, English
Nicolas Diels Serv S 30 Cook Meune France French, Spanish
N G Norris Serv M 50 Butler Hampshire English
Ellen Hartley Serv S 30 Cook Lancashire Liverpool English
Mary Griffiths Serv S 32 Housemaid Breconshire Ystradgynlais English
Ann Morgan Serv S 27 Housemaid Breconshire Ystradgynlais English
Margaret Williams Serv S 22 Housemaid Cardiganshire English
Rachel Potter Serv S 21 Housemaid Breconshire Ystradgynlais English
Caroline Potter Serv S 16 Housemaid Breconshire Ystradgynlais English
Constantine Hibbert Serv S 27 Head Gardener Derbyshire Burslow English
William Hinton Serv S 28 Gardener Bucks Claydon English
Thomas F Jones Serv S 23 Gardener Shropshire English
David Giddings Serv S 21 Gardener London Highgate English
David Edwards Serv S 21 Gardener Breconshire Devynock Both
William Wright Serv S 21 Labourer Gloucestershire English
Harry Bedice Serv S 27 Gardener Shropshire Lydbury English
Thomas Bevan Serv M 48 Coachman Pembrokeshire English
George Marsh Serv S 20 Groom Somerset Church Hill English
Timothy O'Donovan Serv M 50 Game Keeper Ireland Cork Both
William May Serv M 55 Coachman Glamorganshire Neath English

There was also a gamekeeper living in the Lodge:

Keeper's Lodge
Name Position in
Age Occupation Place of Birth English/Welsh
Francis A White Head M 30 Gamekeeper Glamorgan Cowbridge English
Emma White Wife M 25   Glamorgan English

The Head Gardener Constantine Hibbert was in Madame Patti's employ for many years and was still with her when she died in 1919. She often used to visit his cottage on her daily walks as she adored his five children, especially his eldest son Hector. Ethel Rosate-Lunn recalled:

". . . Con Hibbert was talking to [Madame] and mentioned that he had rheumatism in his hand. She said to him 'Con, I have seen a ring advertised that is supposed to be good for rheumatism in the hand; I will get you one.' She did so, and she would often ask him if the ring gave him relief and he would say 'Yes Milady.' But as he often said to me there was more diplomacy than truth in what he said."

Two other members of staff not mentioned on this census were held in particular esteem. One was the chef who joined her a little later Adamo Adami, and another was Lorenza Couroneu de Patrocini.

Mme Patti: Craig-y-Nos Castle
Adelina Patti and Craig-y-Nos Castle
The Theatre at Craig-y-Nos
Christmas at Craig-y-Nos