Powys: A Day in the Life

1891

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Domestic Servants: Glanusk Park

Domestic service provided a huge amount of employment in the nineteenth century. Even a modestly prosperous household could expect to retain the services of a general domestic servant, and most were young single women. In fact, right up until the start of the First World War, domestic service was the largest single occupation for women.

However, it was fading in popularity by 1891. The hours worked were very long, the work was arduous and often lonely, and it did not provide the freedom which was available to factory and shop workers.

Glanusk Park
Glanusk Park
Powys County Archives

Larger households could expect to employ many servants. One of the largest in Powys in 1891, Glanusk Park, had 17 servants in residence.

1891 Census
Glanusk Park
Name Position in
household
Marital
status
Age Occupation Place of Birth
Bertha Elizabeth Stoors Governess S 42 Teacher Switzerland Berne
Louis Edward Mimms Serv S 28 Valet U S A Albany British Subject
Richard Stephen Giles Serv S 27 Underbutler Hampshire Beaulieu
Ellen Mary Ann Craddock Serv S 40 Housekeeper Middlesex Lambeth
Emma Souster Serv S 58 Cook Buckinghamshire
Ernest Rhead Serv S 28 Footman Leek Staffordshire
Margaret Ross Serv S 21 Ladies Maid Scotland Rosshire
Mary Elizabeth Pepper Serv S 20 Kitchenmaid Northampton
Mary Smith Serv S 21 Kitchenmaid Worcestershire
Annie Francis Serv S 24 Stillroom maid Pembrokeshire Haverfordwest
Annie Blackner Serv S 19 Stillroom maid Breconshire Crickhowell
Mary Hannah Grenshaw Serv S 29 Housemaid Berkshire Newbury
Annie Elizabeth Davenport Serv S 24 Housemaid Wellington Salop
Sarah Elizabeth Powis Serv S 19 Housemaid Herefordshire Stoke Lacey
Margaret Powell Serv S 20 Housemaid Breconshire Llangattock
Emily Franks Serv S 25 Schoolroom maid Pembrokeshire Haverfordwest
James Edwards Serv M 41 Coachman and Groom Ludlow Salop

The first listed under the Bailey family was the governess, Bertha Stoors.

Governesses were usually middle class and well educated but not financially independent. They held a peculiar position in a household. In spite of their backgrounds and education, they were neither of a class with the family nor were they quite the same as the other servants. Bertha had only one child to teach - the 12 year old John Bailey, although she may also have taught the teenage daughters of the family.

The rest of the servants are listed according to status in the household.

Brecon Hunt at Tregunter, detail
The Brecon Hunt at Tregunter, c1890
Is that a valet or butler in the doorway?
A groom holds the lady's horse
Brecknock Museum & Art Gallery

Firstly came Louis Mimms, Lord Glanusk's valet. Louis undertook personal duties for Lord Glanusk - looking after his clothes and packing for instance - and would have travelled with him when away from home.

The next servant in status was the underbutler, as no butler was listed at census time. The underbutler would have assisted the butler and stood in for him when absent. The butler's duties involved taking charge of food and wine, waiting at table, answering the door, cleaning or supervising the cleaning of plate in the house, and often supervising the other male servants in the household.

The highest status female servant was the housekeeper. Ellen Craddock was in charge of female servants, catering, accounts, selection of staff, stores and linen.

Next was the cook, Emma Souster; then came Ernest Rhead, a footman. The footman's responsibilities included attending the door, carriage and table, cleaning the silver, acting as a valet when required and occasionally taking charge of the pantry under supervision.

Then came the lady's maid. Margaret Ross was the female equivalent to the valet, attending to the personal dressing of the mistress of the household, mending, darning and generally caring for her clothes.

The next servants were the two kitchenmaids. They would have cooked staff meals, prepared and cooked vegetables for the household, and sometimes prepared meals for the household if the cook were absent.

Then there were 2 stillroom maids. They were responsible for preparing home made wines, pickles and preserves, using the produce from the gardens.

Darning from a sampler
Darning, from a sampler of sewing stitches
Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery
Recipe for cleaning silk or cloth
"Carbonate of ammonia a pennyworth disolved
in cold water [. . .] for cleaning silk or cloth"

Recipe for cleaning silk
Powys County Archives

The four housemaids are listed next. They dusted, cleaned, looked after fires, cleaned silver, laid and waited at table and assisted in mending household linen.

The final member of staff in residence was Emily Franks the schoolroom maid, whose responsibilities were to valet for the older schoolgirls, keep the schoolroom clean, carry up meals, and sometimes to accompany older girls out of doors.

Also, living in the Lodge to the main house was the coachman and groom, James Edwards.

By Powys standards, Glanusk was a large country home although some of the largest stately homes in Britain could have around 40 servants.



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