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Remembered Today:

Rules for Servants


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I came across these rules for Edwardian servants. It came as a harsh reminder of just how different the relationships between the classes were in those days just before the Great War. These are the attitudes that the classes would have taken into the army with them. I`m a little puzzled as these aren`t the kind of relationships I`d imagined to exist in Kitchener battalions but maybe they were in regular battalions where officers would tend to be from the servant employing classes?

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 fraternising 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 0'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.

http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites..._household.html

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Hard to see the relevance to the Great War, but assuming there is any, what is the source of these rules? How widely applicable are they? To what extent were these rules altered or dropped during wartime and when masters and servants met whilst in the services? You describe them as harsh. If one accepts the idea that large households required servants, some living in, I think they are fairly common sense.

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I suspect that many would far rather live within these rules, a number of which were designed to protect their rights, than to be employed in factories, mills and mines where few rights were recognised far less upheld.

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Doubtless the conditions in many smaller houses, with maybe just a single maid and/or cook etc., would have been far more relaxed; that said I've never noticed that anyone categorised as a servant in the 1901 census (and earlier) was ever listed as "employed"

NigelS

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Way back in my student days I was occasionally a guest in a house that still had a housekeeper, maid, cook, gardener and chauffeur (a much reduced staff) and rules pretty much like those listed earlier in the thread. This was the 1960s

Interestingly there was a WW1 connection, the house owner and his wife had been visiting Belgium on a Silver wedding trip when the Germans invaded and they had to flee over the Dutch border (they went back for a Golden wedding visit in 1939 but decided not to push their luck by staying too long).

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When an office building in London was being demolished in the 1970s, the following notice was found pinned to the back of a cupboard door. It is dated 1852.

OFFICE STAFF PRACTICE

1. Godliness, cleanliness and punctuality are the necessities of a good business.

2. This firm has reduced the hours of work and the Clerical Staff will now only have to be present between the hours of 7.00 a.m. and 6.00 p.m. on week days.

3. Daily prayers will be held each morning in the main office. The Clerical Staff will be present.

4. Clothing must be of a sober nature. The Clerical Staff will not disport themselves in raiment of bright colours nor will they wear hose unless in good repair.

5. Overshoes and topcoats may not be worn in the office but headwear may be worn in inclement weather.

6. A stove is provided for the benefit of the Clerical Staff. Coal and wood must be kept in the locker. It is recommended that each member of the Clerical Staff bring 4lb of coal each day during the cold weather.

7. No member of the Clerical Staff may leave the room without permission from Mr Rogers. Calls of nature are permitted and Clerical Staff may use the garden below the second gate. This area must be kept in good order.

8. No talking is allowed during business hours.

9. The craving of tobacco, wine or spirits is a human weakness and, as such, is forbidden to all members of the Clerical Staff.

10, Now that the hours of business have been drastically reduced, the partaking of food is allowed between 11.30 a.m. and Noon but work will not on any account cease.

11. Members of the Clerical Staff will provide their own pens. A new sharpener is available on application to Mr Rogers.

12. Mr Rogers will appoint a senior clerk to be responsible for the cleanliness of the main office and private office, and all boys and juniors will report to Mr Rogers forty minutes before prayers and remain after closing hours after work. Brushes, etc, are provided by the owners.

13. The new increased weekly wages are as follows:

Boys up to 11 years of age 1s 4d per week

Boys up to 14 years of age 2s 1d per week

Ron

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Steven Broomfield

Ron, are you sure that isn't the current Rule book for Skindles?

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9. The craving of tobacco, wine or spirits is a human weakness and, as such, is forbidden to all members of the Clerical Staff.

No mention of beer or cider, then ...

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Sep 20 2008, 10:16 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
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.

Perhaps this one could be revived and taught in schools ...

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When an office building in London was being demolished in the 1970s....

Was that where the Blue Cross charity used to have its offices?

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Perhaps this one could be revived and taught in schools ...

That would be bliss. It should be enforced in shops too - imagine what it must be like not to have to wait for attention until the assistants have finished their conversation.

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Neither of these fine documents provides any advice on the frequency with which I should physically chastise my second footman.

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Hello

Mungo the Gardener here. I see that my usual place of employment is closed and was wondering whether you have any employment here for me...

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Steven Broomfield
Was that where the Blue Cross charity used to have its offices?

Indeed not. We are a much more enlightened employer: indeed, only on Friday I told one of the nurses not to call me Sir. Mister Broomfield was quite adequate as we were out of earshot of any of the clients.

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When new recruits in the U.S. Army address their NCOs as "sir," the sergeants are prone to say, "Don't call me sir, my parents are married."

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Neither of these fine documents provides any advice on the frequency with which I should physically chastise my second footman.

A true, public school educated gentleman would know instinctively how often he should be physically chastised by his staff or hirelings. :rolleyes:

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Sep 21 2008, 09:27 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
A true, public school educated gentleman would know instinctively how often he should be physically chastised by his staff or hirelings. :rolleyes:

As John Major might say: Oh yes! Apparently, in late Victorian days, male brothels were frequented by the gentry and other, more suble tricks were employed by those seeking sexual gratification through sado-masochistic practices, not that I'm and expert you understand. One notable policeman of the era - it may have been Abberline or Dew - recounted the tale of a minor member of the aristocracy who was staying at a fashionable London hotel. He deliberately left a pile of sovereigns on the mantelpiece then hid. A young employee came into the room and succumbed to temptation, pocketing one of the coins. The man sprung out and gave the boy two choices: a trip to the police station of a thrashing. Naturally the lad chose the latter. The same officer reported the goings-on at Cleveland Street and also reported how Oscar Wilde liked to be punched around. Rum lot those Victorians. Must be something to do with public school education.

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per ardua per mare per terram
what is the source of these rules? How widely applicable are they?

The rules were compiled for a reality programme. Supposedly they drew from som extanct books of rules, but I note that none of these are referenced on the site. They seem to have left out references to employers exploiting the staff and assume that it was only other servants who were the cause of their unmarried fellow servants having babies.

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Unfortunately, I made the mistake of leaving Phil's OP on the screen, where Mrs H chanced upon it.

She thinks there's great merit in the "rules" and wants me to work to them starting tomorrow. :(

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per ardua per mare per terram

Phil, I'm surprised that you find these attitudes unusual for the time or that it wouldn't be reflected by the men in the Kitchener battalions. Any basic research into the social conditions of the Victorian (don't forget all the men in 1914 were Victorians) and Edwardian period will show the strict social demarkation above and below stairs; you may remember a programme called 'Upstair Downstairs' that centred around such concerns. Why do you assume that it was only the officers in regular battalions who were from the from the servant employing classes? These classes were more widespread than you seem to acknowledge; going through the 1901 census many middle class families had a live in servant, whilst others had daily help.

The concept that "deference is dead" came after WW2 not before WWI, when even radicals had their servants. This was the time of forlock tugging and strict social heirarchy, reflected by the rank structure in the armed services. A New Army soldier would "know his place" and wouldn't last 2 minutes trying to get upperty with the RSM!

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I think you`re probably right, PAPMPT. I tend easily to slip into thinking of WW1 battalions as being more egalitarian like a modern unit, which is patently wrong and it does me good to be reminded of the fact. I am left with the impression that Pals Bns were more "pally" in that relations between officers and men were easier and I tried to rationalize this by assuming that regular battalions had richer officers from big houses with the servant owning ethos. Conversely, that Pals Bns had middle class professional men as officers who, though they might have employed the odd servant, might have had a different attitude to them. I could be wrong! It`s conjecture on my part.

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I suspect most of the rules (particularly those regarding demeanour) were formulated by senior servants, ie the butler. I'm reminded of Stevens in The Remains of the Day.

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Sep 23 2008, 09:50 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think you`re probably right, PAPMPT. I tend easily to slip into thinking of WW1 battalions as being more egalitarian like a modern unit, which is patently wrong and it does me good to be reminded of the fact. I am left with the impression that Pals Bns were more "pally" in that relations between officers and men were easier and I tried to rationalize this by assuming that regular battalions had richer officers from big houses with the servant owning ethos. Conversely, that Pals Bns had middle class professional men as officers who, though they might have employed the odd servant, might have had a different attitude to them. I could be wrong! It`s conjecture on my part.

I don't know if you ever saw the original "Goodbye Mr. Chips" with Robert Donat in the lead role. There was a "town and gown" aspect to the story in which a lad from the school gets into a scrap with one of the local boys. Afterwards, the posh lad goes off to France with the BEF with his former antagonist in tow as his batman. I thought that was quite poignant when I saw it as a lad but these days I have a somewhat different opinion. Any lad who could fight like that should not have been an officer's batman.

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