I’ve just finished the autobiography of Diana Cooper, born in 1892
into a fabulously wealthy English family. Her father was a duke, and she
grew up in the most extraordinary circumstances. Here are just a few
tidbits from the Manners household:
- the “gong man,” employed solely to ring the bell for meals 3
times a day. “Every corridor had to be warned, and the towers, too.”
- the lamp and candlemen (but of course, as there was no electricity)
- the water-men–“to keep all jugs, cans, and kettles full in the bedrooms”
- the coal man
- the watchmen, who “walked the passages, terraces, and battlements
all night long. As they passed outside they said, ‘Past twelve o’clock.
- shooting parties
- invitations to go on long walks on Sunday afternoons, written and delivered by hand
- before dinner, silver trays of “sprays” and button-holes were passed “for dressing guests to choose from”
I can hardly believe my own time even barely overlapped with this age. It’s like something from a movie!