Broadbottom Community Association

History Project

Servants
 

                  

 CROSSING SOCIAL BOUNDARIES.

Although social status was rigid in Victorian society, it was not fixed and sometimes marriages took place across the boundary of class and wealth. Within the Chapman family there is an example of such social movement between the status of servant to that of employer.

 The photograph (left) of Cora Beet,   the nurse of Charles Chapman’s first wife, is charming and intimate. Cora looks back very directly at the photographer, smiling. She did in fact become his second wife and they had eight children together.

Here Cora is seen in a bedroom at the Hague with a baby, a rare informal interior photograph of family life. Charles Chapman was an amateur photographer and his pictures of family life have an informality rarely seen in the more stiffly posed photographs of the time.

Cora’s children had their own nursemaid.

This natural photograph on the right of a gardener and Eileen (?) Chapman as a toddler was taken at The Hague.

(All photographs except where indicated courtesy of Joyce Powell)

 

Servant with dogs at the Hague c1890s

       Masters and servants at Harewood Lodge 1870s

The householder and probably his two sons have joined the group with four other male servants, one of them a boy. The four men servants in the middle row look less smart than the others, indicating perhaps that they are outdoor servants.

    Indoor servants at Hill End House.

Harewood Lodge 1870

These five servants are well dressed. The man on the left is probably the chief male servant or butler, with his beard and watch chain. The women’s dresses are quite ornate with frills and buttons. All are extremely well kempt with sharply parted and greased hair.

Estate workers at Hill End (1860/70s)

The four photographs of the estate workers at Hill End illustrate the number of workers needed to manage the farms, gardens and greenhouses and the stables. Some of the men hold objects such as a trug or a rake (gardeners) or a gun (gamekeeper) to illustrate their roles. They range in age from young to old, a reminder that the working class had to work as long as they were fit because there was little support for them other than their family.

Museum of Science and Industry Manchester

The grand houses all had their teams of servants, indoors and out. Some lived ‘in’, others in the village or in specially built cottages, such as the row on Hill End Lane, where some of the servants for Hill End House lived, and the 3 houses built on Gorsey Brow  by Colonel Sidebottom for some senior servants.

 

                

 

                                                                                                             

                                                                                                                     back to history index             back leisure         next page shops