Memories of Elveden
The purchase of Elveden Estate by the First Earl of Iveagh in 1894, began a new era in the history of this fascinating village, it is steeped in memories and we are fortunate to have folk living here who still remember, vividly, the stories told to them by their forbears of the village in it's hey-day.
By the turn of the century Lord Iveagh had greatly enlarged Elveden Hall and it soon abounded with distinguished guests, including royalty and their entourage, especially during the shooting season.
An army of household staff was engaged to work in the Hall, this included the butler, housekeeper, lady's maid, valets, and later the children's nanny, and nurserymaid, all of whom had their rooms in the Hall. The chef, footmen, parlour maids, kitchenmaids, housemaids, the odd man, and scullery maid, lived in the vast servants' quarters connected to the Hall. The laundry maids dwelt nearby in a house adjoining one end of the laundry, the dairy was situated at the other end, the laundry-boilerman lived in a wooden bungalow close by; the night watchman had his cottage a short distance from the Hall. Some of the staff would only be engaged during the shooting season.
There were grooms, coachmen, and later the chauffeur, living at the Stables. In the Park, gardeners tended the flower gardens, grounds-men looked after the lawns and hedges and a keeper cared for the birds in the large aviary, there was a park keeper and lodge gate keepers; more gardeners were employed in the walled vegetable gardens and orchards not far from the Estate Office. Lord Iveagh's agent and the office staff worked in the Estate office and tradesmen were employed to work on the Estate - i.e. carpenters, bricklayers, electricians, gasmen, wheelwrights, blacksmiths and painters. Gamekeepers, warreners, woodsmen, farms' managers, farm workers, which included the horsemen, shepherds, stock-men and others, were all part of the large work force. Each was highly skilled in his own field and ensured that this magnificent estate ran on oiled wheels.
Many employees and their families were housed in the brand new dwellings Lord Iveagh had built for them, he also built a new post office and school. The red bricks from the Elveden brick works which had been established in 1895, were used in all the new constructions, other buildings including the Stables, water tower and Cottage Homes (c.1912) were also of red brick. By 1906 the church had been extended to accommodate the influx of the new village inhabitants and their families, they, as well as the hall staff, were required to attend church each Sunday. His Lordship, his family and guests would also attend.
First-hand memories of the early times, of course, are no longer available to us, but we are grateful to the following people who kindly shared their memories with us; some were born or employed in Elveden towards the end of the First Earl's amazing era and others were born, raised and worked here in later years. All have an interesting tale to tell of their association with this unique Estate, which is constantly evolving with each successive Earl. Their recollections reflect on the changes in society, working conditions, and on the good and bad times:
Reg Trett now aged 79 recalls his father’s days as Head Gardener when all the fruit, flowers and vegetables were grown to supply the needs of the Hall, his early days on the Estate and his wartime travels and thirty-five year employment here. view transcript
Geneva Paul,now 92 was born in South Africa and came to Elveden from Dereham, at the age of nineteen, to work in the laundry, Eva talks of the hard and skilled work entailed to do the washing for his Lordship’s several houses. view transcript
Pictured here with his wife Joyce, Alan Cousins, 72, talks about his father Ernest, who worked in the laundry as boiler man and general factotum, and of his own childhood, work, and wartime memories of the Americans in Elveden Park. view transcript
Phyllis Flack aged 85 remembers her grandfather and father and their lives on the Estate, and speaks of her childhood, her love of housework, dancing and village life. view transcript
Agnes Kybird, was born in London, in 1914, she first worked in Cockley Cley Hall and then came to Elveden Hall, in 1934, as a housemaid. Agnes recalls her work in the Hall and later helping to care for the nursery school-children who were evacuated from London, to Elveden, to live in the servants’ quarters of the Hall during the early years of the war, and tells us about her life and work in the community. view transcript
Pam Roper, who is 78, view transcript and Irene Wood , 75 came here from London and Newcastle, respectively, to become landgirls, married Elveden boys and stayed in the village; talk of their life and times here. view transcript
Leslie Trett who was born in Elveden, in 1930, looks back on his life working in the dairy, on the farm, gamekeeping and his adventures as a wartime American ‘mascot’. view transcript
Irene (Taffy) Johnson, aged 86 reminisces about her work here during the war as a civilian clerk in the RAF, AMWD, and her life with her husband Dick who was publican of the Six Day Inn for 25 years.view transcript
Harry Skipper, pictured with his wife Isobel was born here in 1925 and talks of his father’s work on the Memorial Tower of the church, his early life, wartime memories and work on the Estate. All still live in Elveden and their children were born and raised here, some members of the families of Reg, Eva, Doris, Phyllis, Irene and Pam continue to reside, and/or work, on the Estate, others have moved away, but they all have a deep and abiding affection for their village and are proud to be ‘Elveden People’.view transcript
Gillian Turner ©2000
A Forest Heath District Council (Suffolk) Project supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund as part of the Millennium Festival ©2000 Designed by ArtAtac