Courtroom drama for cook-turned-housekeeper
It was the early 20th-century, staff numbers were dwindling and cook-turned-housekeeper, Ellen Penketh’s duties were expanded to include keeping the household accounts.
Accused of stealing
The newly married Mrs Yorke loved to entertain, but struggled to cope with running a stately home and managing finances. When she realised the accounts were in poor shape, she accused Ellen Penketh of stealing from the family.
The accusation backfired when the Yorkes took Ellen to court for theft and Ellen was found not guilty by the jury; a sign of the times perhaps?
Discover more about Ellen Penketh’s story on our guided tour, ‘A Housekeeper’s Tale’ and decide for yourself who was guilty in this sorry story.
Ellen Penketh is featured in Tessa Boase’s book ‘The Housekeepers’ Tale’ on sale in Erddig’s shop which draws on new sources to tell extraordinary stories of women who ran some of Britain’s most prominent households. Besides Ellen’s tale, there is an unwanted pregnancy, a forbidden love affair and a prison sentence.