Upstairs, Downstairs
The pre-war years 1

Sarah arrived as the new under-houseparlourmaid in November 1903 bearing dubious references and a suspicious backstory. She was trouble all along the line for 165 until her eventual departure in spring 1910.

The attractive and sensual Sarah was a great influence on the minds and hearts of Eaton Place. To Rose, with whom she shared a freezing garret, Sarah confided her wildest hopes and dreams, and although the girls were opposites, they became firm friends.

165 Eaton Place was a house divided – upstairs, in the central floors, all was spacious elegance for the family. Downstairs it was bare, scrubbed and crowded. In Edwardian days, the Bellamys could run eight servants for a total wage bill of about £200 a year. A maid like Rose could expect to earn £20 a year. The days were long, the work hard, and the time off limited. Nevertheless, servants' jobs offered security from the outside world and many remained in service all of their lives.

"Lady Marjorie leant back in her chair and smiled to herself at the thought of Hudson's face. He never could conceal his emotions which was one of the reasons he would never gain promotion to a grander establishment. Silly old Hudson; sometimes he maddened her by his obstinacy and his slowness, but she wouldn't have changed him. He was loyal and honest and only drank in moderation and that was saying quite a lot for any butler." (John Hawkesworth from the novelisation of Season One.)

Elizabeth runs away from her debut ball in The Path of Duty – the Bellamys contemplate what to do. (Although this and some other early episodes were shot in black and white, colour on-set publicity photographs like this one were taken.)

In 1906, new housemaid Mary found herself pregnant after being sexually assaulted by the son, Myles Radford, of her previous employer. Taking pity on the girl, Richard tried to help but found himself threatened with legal action if he persisted with his accusations against Radford. Finding himself also facing rumours that he was the father, Richard reluctantly followed Sir Geoffrey's advice and sent Mary on her way.

Emily was Mrs Bridges' mouselike kitchen maid. At 17, her £14-a-year pay was low and her prospects were few. Nevertheless, in 1907, she set her heart on marrying William, the flashy footman of one of the Bellamys' lady visitors. William's employer forbade him to see Emily again and Emily, heartbroken and humiliated, hanged herself in her tiny attic room.

Hudson and Edward about to embark on a day out to Hampstead Heath in spring 1907. Note the modern car on the left.

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