Grandmas Gleanings from Newton's Woolsthorpe
Recollections from a Lincolnshire Hamlet By Margaret Anne Winn Published in 1994 Copyright M. A. Winn 1994
This is a collection of stories and facts, recording the childhood of the Robinson children and their way of life growing up in Woolsthorpe in the early 1900's.
Chapter 13 Out to work
As the children each reached the age of 14 years old they left Colsterworth School. The boys went into motor car related trades and the girls went into service. My mother started work for Mrs Doubleday at Millfield a large house in Colsterworth. From her attic bedroom window she could see her home at Woolsthorpe and often wished she was there. Mrs Doubleday taught Helen well. She used to say there are two ways of doing a job a wrong way and right way but mine is the right way. A tap on the ceiling at 6am meant it was time to be up and doing. Helen's wages were left to add up and at the end of the first year she was given 10. It was enough money to buy herself a whole outfit and other clothes.
For the second year she was offered a rise of 2 and asked if she would like to stay. She discussed it with Lizzie who said she might as well stay where she knew it was alright, better the devil you know, said Lizzie. Helen repeated the conversation word for word which surprised her employer somewhat! Helen did stay, but later in the year was asked to go to Mrs Doubleday's daughter, Mrs Ball in Derby. She liked looking after the young children but after 3 years decided she wanted to move nearer home and nearer to Alice and Annie who were also in service. So she got a position in Melton with a family who were in the retail motor trade. Unfortunately the servants here were not so well looked after and did not get enough to eat.
They had pickled eggs when the household had fresh ones. There was house butter and servant's butter, and when the candles were given out they were measured and the girls were told how long they should last. Human nature being what it is the eggs and the butter, etc. were often reversed and no one upstairs noticed! The green grocer's boy always slipped the girls a piece of fresh fruit which went onto the household bill. When Helen was first there and the youngest servant she was elected to ask for a day off for the Bank Holiday which was approaching. The mistress looked down her nose at Helen and said, Bank Holidays are not for servants. Needless to say Helen moved on as soon as she could! One story which still makes me laugh is one of her jobs was to put hot water bottles in the guest beds as she knew the house well she went into the particular guest room one evening without a light, thrust the hot water bottle deep inside the bed, only to discover to her horror the guest had already retired! She fled as quickly as possible and was eternally grateful that nothing was said the next morning!