Mrs Greville's butlers at Polesden Lacey

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The Edwardian butler was the senior servant of the household, and was in charge of the wine cellar, the serving of meals, the silver, and the general arrangements for the reception of guests.  Mrs Greville had two very different butlers - Bole and Bacon.


Mr Francis 'Frank' Bole was Mrs Greville's senior butler. He worked for Mrs Greville for over forty years, sometimes accompanying her on her travels. When she died, he was given the responsibility of destroying her private papers at her request. He married Evelyn Wareham and they had three children.

Kenneth Clark said in 'Another Part of the Wood':

'Bole looked and behaved like a butler, and fell heir to a large part of her fortune'.

This is what Mrs Greville wrote in a letter to Francis Bole from Union Castle Lane, RMS 'Arundel Castle':

12th January 1923

Dear Bole,

I am much touched by your really charming gift. It is altogether delightful and quite gladdens my cabin and almost makes me homesick. It is always a wrench for me to leave home and you are always so kind and attentive to me. I trust your family will keep well this winter, and that there will be no epidemic of the flu or such horrors.

With my best wishes and renewed thanks

Yours Truly

Margaret Greville


Kenneth Clark says in 'Another Part of the Wood' that Bacon 'was a short, stout, red-faced man who obviously put away all the drink left over from guests. Mrs Greville's admirable cuisine was famous for one speciality, baby tongues. They were produced only for royalty. At the lunch in question I was sitting at the very end of the table, so I could see round the screen that hid the serving hatch. When the baby tongues came up I saw Bacon looking at them longingly; he swayed backwards and forwards in his desire. Finally he could contain himself no longer. He stretched out his hands and began cramming the baby tongues into his mouth. The sauce ran down the front of his shirt, his jaws worked furiously. During the haitus Mrs Greville said 'Bole, what's become of the baby tongues?' 'There were none to be had at the market this morning, Madam'. I expect she guessed. Bacon, his face purple with gratified desire, put a napkin over his shirt and carried in the next course.'