I came upon a wonderful little piece written by my grand-grandmother when she was a young lady. A journal entry that tells of what it looked and felt like to be preparing for Christmas Day in the olden times. Cleaning and cooking at its best 🙂 Not as dramatic as the cleaning up of the public face of Victorian London but still a great insight.
It is Christmas day and the house is a buzz with activity and excitement. The Seymour’s have relations coming for dinner and there is much to be done. There is soup to be made, beef and pork to be roasted. Plum pudding and mince pies to be made and punch to be prepared.
Daisy, the scullery maid has fitted in well. She is a hard worker and I get to do a lot more cooking now that she is working in my previous position.
However, it is Christmas and its all hands on deck. There are dishes to be cleaned and vegetables to be scrubbed and peeled. Beatrice is making a good cook, although she is not very adventurous , unlike me who loves to experiment.
We all work very hard throughout the day and then finally the guests have arrived and are settled in the dining room. The soup is being served and there is an awful moment when Mrs Chalmers, one of the guests , has dropped her spoon into the bowl, splashing soup everywhere.
The butler saved the day with his expertise way, of handling situations like that, and still managing to put Mrs Chalmers at ease.
The dinner went well, as did the pudding. Afterwards, Mrs Reynolds and guests retired to the drawing room to play Christmas games and for the piano. However, not before Mr Reynolds made a speech to thank the cook and servants for a lovely dinner and wished us all a very happy Christmas.
Frantically we all chip in to clear away and wash up so that we can have our own Christmas dinner in the servant’s hall.
Tomorrow, I am to be given the afternoon and evening off and will be able to visit my family. I am very excited to see them as it has been months.
The dinner went very well and it was very strange to see the likes of Mr Spooner, the butler being quite jovial instead of his usual straight faced self.
There was much laughing about and if a bell rang from upstairs the servants would take it in turns to go upstairs.
I finally crept into bed about eleven thirty, so tired I didn’t even have time to say my prayers.
It was very hard to wake myself up the next morning but the thoughts of seeing my family later was helping me to get washed and dressed in the bitter cold bedroom.
I crept downstairs at six o’clock and Daisy was already there, cleaning the floor. I do forget sometimes it’s not all down to me now. Together we get the fires going and the kettle on the boil for tea for us and the upper servants. They all have a busy day today again and I feel very lucky to be having the afternoon off.
Finally, it is twelve noon and I wish everyone a happy Christmas and make my way upstairs to change.
I feel very grand in my blue going out dress and my black hat with matching blue ribbon.
I make my way to the nearby rail train station to catch a train to see my family. I feel very grown up and a woman of the world as I sit on the train looking out of the window. I watch as hundreds of houses seem to pass by outside but of course it’s me that’s passing by them.
I day dream for a few minutes and imagine what’s going on at the house.
Daisy would be working the hardest cleaning the floors and scrubbing the tables. Washing and scouring the pans until they shone and washing up the crockery, glasses and cutlery.
I would help her if I had been there but as the train pulls into the station my stomach does a skip and a leap as I look out the window and see my mother and father.
Oh, it’s so good to see them I can hardly wait and I clamber to my feet and make my way to the doors.