January 2020: Below Stairs

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For our first meeting of 2020 we were joined by local historian Paul Jennings who took us on a journey back to Edwardian Harrogate. Paul spoke about domestic servants in Edwardian Harrogate and kept us entertained with his interesting stories, impressive knowledge and both old and new photographs.

By using the censuses of 1901 and 1911 Paul has collected information on the working women in Harrogate. He shared this with us and explained to us where they worked, what they did, where they came from, why they may have arrived in Harrogate and even some personal stories of their lives. It was fascinating what he has been able to find out.

Paul showed us photographs of houses in present day Harrogate where they would have worked and what these houses may have been like in the past, before explaining their daily lives. We heard about the national servant shortage across the country that occurred when more jobs became available to women and how this lead to an increase in servant wages and an improvement to their working conditions.

We thoroughly enjoyed hearing about the lives, loves and losses of the domestic servants in Edwardian Harrogate, thanks Paul!

About Spa Sweethearts WI

A young, fun and diverse WI based in Harrogate, North Yorkshire. We encourage women to leave their preconceptions of the organisation at the door and find out what the modern WI is really like. Guests are welcome at our meetings - why not give it a try? Spa Sweethearts WI meets on the second Thursday of each month, 7:30pm, at Christ Church on the Stray, Harrogate.

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