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Maid of the Manor: A look into the life of a housemaid in the 1930's

By Nat Fox - natfoxmedia@gmail.com


When Beryl Teague, née Beryl Beare, wrote her memoir in 1991, she shared what it was like to work at Pencarrow House in the 1930s.

1930's staff at Pencarrow House

At just 14 years old, in 1934, Beryl started a new chapter in her life, one that would stay in her heart forever. Looking after Pencarrow, a beautiful Georgian manor house surrounded by 50 acres of landscaped gardens and woodland was a huge undertaking. Beryl worked hard for her yearly pay of £18 as a servant to the servants. She changed bed linen, mopped floors, and emptied the dreaded chamber pots.


‘I once asked her why she loved Pencarrow’, says Celia Jarvis, Beryl's daughter. ‘She was the oldest of eight children. At Pencarrow, she had her own room so she didn’t need to share a bed with her siblings. She even had her own bath’.

When war broke out in 1939, she decided to leave and get married. But little did she know, she’d be back. In the 1970s, Beryl heard the house was going to be open to the public and decided to visit.


‘She was horrified,’ says Lady Molesworth St. Aubyn, whose relatives Beryl used to look after in the 1930s. ‘The house had become very run down after being empty for 18 years. When Beryl saw it she burst into tears. She couldn’t believe it wasn’t doubly polished and clean.’


Beryl spent the next few years helping the Molesworth St. Aubyns and became a tour guide at the house. She passionately shared stories of times gone by with visitors. ‘She was brilliant at her job, and just such a lovely person’, says Lady Molesworth St. Aubyn, who remained friends with Beryl until her passing in 2018.


You can read excerpts of Beryl's memoir at https://www.pencarrow.co.uk/

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