Domestic Service

A beautiful house in very large grounds, lots of rooms, tennis court, two cars, and very beautiful as you can see in the picture. After war broke out and all the other staff left, I was the head cook and bottle washer, who kept the household going.

They [her employers] had the [youngest daughter's wedding] reception in the house and I prepared the reception which wasn’t actually a total success because I wasn’t familiar with English food.

Well strange was of course the food and me being cook. I found it very strange because a lot of the food, of course, I didn’t even know. For instance, one of the daughters got married just as the war broke out, and the reception was at home, and I was asked to make veal and ham pie. Well the ham didn’t worry me, the veal didn’t worry me, but the pie bit worried me, because that’s a totally not continental thing, to serve meat and pastry. Pastry is jam or cheese, or God knows what, but certainly not meat. And it was an absolute disaster that I produced there, and somehow we survived it, I don’t know, the pastry, so called, was that hard, they needed a chain saw to cut it. However, it was OK.

When war was declared? It was a lovely sunny day. None of you know this, but it was a lovely sunny day. It was a Sunday, and I was cooking roast beef and Yorkshire pudding and peas and was podding the peas. And Mrs Hunt came in the kitchen and said, ‘War, we are now at war with Germany’. And that of course was very traumatic because one knew that everything was, well, cut off then. But still work was so demanding one didn’t even have time to think about it.

I had the domestic permit. We had to clean the rooms every day - although there was nobody in them. I also had to clear the grates, then the butler came after and laid the fire. The butler and the cook were the most important people. We were supposed to be in the servants’ hall with the others. So if I sat in the room, I had either the choice of sitting there in the cold or joining the others in the servants’ room.


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