Over a Hot Stove: Life Below Stairs in Britain's Great Houses

By Flo Wadlow

Flo Wadlow used to be one of many final survivors of the pre-war iteration which served ‘below stairs’ within the nice homes of britain. on the age of 16, Flo Wadlow left her family members to start what may develop into a uncommon existence ‘in service’. beginning as a kitchen maid in South Kensington, she quickly rose during the ranks, operating at many nice homes together with Hatfield residence in Hertfordshire and Blickling corridor in Norfolk. There she will be answerable for the kitchen through her early twenties or even cooked for royalty. during this pleasant memoir, Flo offers a brilliant and fascinating account of what lifestyles was once particularly like operating ‘downstairs’ and a snap-shot of the privileged lives of her employers in a bygone period. A honest and captivating storyteller offers a snap-shot of the privileged lives of her employers in a bygone period; comprises Flo’s recipes that she used in the course of her time in provider, similar to the Blickling residence Ginger Sponge.

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Our day all started early with a visit to the hairdresser’s at 7. forty a. m. , then domestic to have a talk with Radio Norfolk, who wanted us a cheerful day. Time to don our finery and out with our cameras to checklist our seems, then off to Norwich to board the educate for London. at the platform we have been greeted by way of a woman, ‘I comprehend the place you’re going. ’ A British Legion member, she additionally had a call for participation. In London we travelled through Underground to St James’s Park, a brief stroll from the Palace. after all there have been thousands of individuals queuing to go into. It used to be interesting to check some of the models – lengthy skirts and mini ones, flowery and simple attire, all in quite a few shades and kinds. The hats! huge ones plumed with feathers, straw ones garlanded with plant life and others a froth of veiling and ribbons. What a gala day for milliners. they need to bless the Queen for ordering hats to be worn. Slowly the queues moved ahead throughout the gates, around the courtyard and up the red-carpeted stairs; eventually we have been within the Palace – what splendour. Ushered via a few rooms and out into the backyard, extra like a park rather. sunlight shining, band enjoying, tea tent beckoning with a delectable array of dainty sandwiches and brownies. The Yeomen of the protect, resplendent of their red-and-gold uniforms, coated up, down the stairs and around the garden, to shape a direction for the Queen and Duke to stroll during the crowds of site visitors. The Queen was once wearing a royal-blue silk coat and hat to compare, with a elaborate gown. We sat close to the doorway to the Royal Tea Tent so had a great view of Her Majesty as she went into tea, yet no longer close to adequate to assert hi. A Gentleman of the Queen’s loved ones on responsibility within the Royal enclosure requested Paula approximately her badge and he or she advised him it used to be a Norfolk Women’s Institute one. He responded, ‘How great to satisfy a tender member. ’ I advised him how proud and honoured we felt to be fellow individuals with the Queen and Queen mom. All too quickly it used to be time to move, and what an afternoon. The magic lingers on. Sharing the stories of her lifestyles in provider has ended in a mini media occupation for Flo. She featured in a press interview with Gillian Shephard no much less, who was once then discovering on the UEA into family provider in grand homes. She used to be interviewed by means of that indefatigable Norfolk flag-flier, Keith Skipper, in the course of his time operating for Radio Norfolk, and contributed to the nationwide radio sequence The Century Speaks, as well as her personal programme, Cooking Up a Royal deal with, for BBC Radio four, as pointed out above. On tv she has been interviewed by means of Susie Fowler-Watt, and has additionally ventured into nationwide tv with the sequence top Crust, offered via writer and photographer Christopher Simon Sykes. the following Flo starred with Mrs Sarah Bulwer-Long within the kitchen of 1 of Flo’s favorite homes, Heydon corridor. As at Blickling, she made the ‘Royal’ poultry dish. Flo commented: The movie team have been such a lot intrigued by way of my reports and advised me i used to be a usual for tv! I’m no longer someone who’s a piece shy and, with cooking, I don’t get anxious if somebody appears to be like at me.

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