Christmas celebrations - letters home in 1937

A historic photo of male and female servants at the back door at Polesden Lacey

Creative writing volunteer, Alison Gleeson, has written letters home from the perspective of a housemaid at Polesden Lacey during the Christmas of 1937. This letter is based on research, conducted by the house team, into a housemaid's life and the way servants would celebrate during the Christmas period at Polesden Lacey.

Friday, 27th December, 1937 - Polesden Lacey

Dear Mum,
Belated merry Christmas! I loved the hat - where did you get that bright red wool? Christmas here was hectic but I enjoyed it so much more than last year.  We all pulled together to get the daily duties done early, we even sang Christmas carols in the servants hall before breakfast.
Then, after checking we were all presentable, Mr Bole marched us upstairs to the hall for the Christmas presentation. The scullery maid was so nervous, bless her, and I've never seen the gardeners' boots looking so clean.  Mrs G gave each one of us a Christmas gift. It must have cost her a fortune because there must have been 50 of us in the hall. This year I got some scented soap and one of the other girls said it must've come from Paris or India or somewhere - one of her international trips! I'm not so sure, but it does smell glamorous.
We're brimming with Christmas traditions
A pile of presents in red paper sit under a pine Christmas tree
We're brimming with Christmas traditions
There was such a fuss over the King’s Christmas speech on the wireless this year.  Mr Bole said we could all stand by the backstairs and listen in, it being such an important occasion. Did you catch it? All the guests stood around the wireless to listen. They were all gossiping about Prince Edward and that Mrs Simpson and, of course, Mrs G had to mention that she'd been with the royal family at Balmoral in September. She just loves to namedrop. Apparently the little Princess Elizabeth calls King Edward ‘Grandpa England’ - how funny!
The servants’ ball is in a couple of days and we're all buzzing with excitement.  Mr Bole and Mrs Davidson are having a task to keep us all in check – there's so much chatting, plotting about who is going to dance with who and of course, planning how to smarten up our best day dresses.  I was going to wear the new stockings you sent me for Christmas. Thanks so much! We've been able to decorate the servants hall and Monsieur Delachaume and the cook have prepared a truly amazing feast. I have never seen so much food and I wish you could also share it with me.  Tim the second footman has been paying me some attention and he says he wants a dance but Mrs Davidson gave him a talking to and told him to 'watch your manners', especially because Mrs Greville attends the servants’ ball.  They say she is very generous to her staff and I can’t say I’ve seen anything that would say otherwise, so with all that’s planned with the feast and dancing, it looks to be the best day of the year.
I'll write again soon and tell you all about it.
All my love,
PS Learn more about what a servant's life was life during the festive season on a visit to Polesden Lacey this Christmas.