Mrs Wells' Diary, 1892.

Dorothy Doar

Letter to James Loch, 3 April 1832

‘I assure you at this time my heart is almost broke – I have been upwards of 14 years in the Marquis of Stafford’s family and it grieves me much, very much indeed to leave it – indeed Sir to describe to you the distress I am in would be impossible.’

Sarah Wells

Diary, 1892

 ‘Sadly vexed about Mrs Keeble [the cook] not suiting.’

‘Told Mrs Keeble about leaving, what a miserable house this is!!’

‘Mrs Keeble left. Mrs Harrison came. Miss Maxwell left.’

‘Felt unsettled but hope it please God all will be ordered for the best.’

Ellen Penketh

Evidence repeated in court, 1907

‘You might as well ask me to raise a million pounds,’ said Thomas Penketh. ‘I shall do nothing. She’s already tried to rob me of ten pounds.’

Ellen waited in the doorway, nervous. ‘Won’t you help me father?’ 

‘No, not in the least,’ he replied. 

Hannah Mackenzie

Favourite anecdote, as told to great nephew Ross

When housekeeper to the Vanderbilts in 1920s New York, Hannah would fill the fountains with spent Champagne corks just for the wicked pleasure of seeing Hudson the butler jump with fright when he turned on the jets of water in the morning. The corks would bounce down the marble staircase – 'Bang bang bang!’

Grace Higgens

Grace Higgens

Diary, 1968 

 ‘Sat for my portrait after lunch. My eyes keep watering, as Mr Grant insists on me taking off my glasses, I had a peep & think I look a peevish woman. I feel so tired.’

Nicky Garner

Interview, 2013

‘I’ve always been ridiculously methodical. Methodical, adaptable, and logical. That’s what you need to be. The new girls walk into a room and think ‘where the hell would I start?’ I’ll look at a room and think right, I’ll start here, and then here.’ 

Photos of Mrs Wells and Ellen Penketh, both copyright National Trust.