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Sunday, 21 April 2013

Lucy Lethbridge - Servants

Book Review by Maggie Perkovic read live on radio scilly bookshow 18th April 2013 .

This is a really interesting book about the tradition of "keeping servants"  which has changed over the years from the seventeenth century where "Pepys'" sent for his servants to join in their games as a matter of course, to the next centuries where servants had to work under really hard conditions attending those whose homes they were living in.
Thousands of unseen, unheard and undervalued workers toiled in ktichens parlours and country houses. Cleaning cooking and attending to their masters' and mistresses' needs at all hours of the day.
Time off was strictly limited, wages minimal and appreciation the same.
Unfair as it may seem work in service was very much wanted if you were a member of a large family
in the country, if you were employed on a large estate "living in" it took some pressure off your family, you could send your wages home, and you also were eating a little better, if only plain food.
Starting at fourteen the work was hard and the other servants were also quite hard on newcomers, but you knew this was the only future which beckoned for the children of hard up families.
If you were a good worker you could finally achieve a higher status, but it took a lot of years.
This book looks at all types of servants, and all types of employers.
It is well researched, and when we realise how different life was in the 1900s to the self service of the 1970s we see what an amazing change has occurred in this country.#
Far reaching and well researched a great and interesting march through the ages.
Maggie Perkovic.

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