Ann’s mother was assistant to the housekeeper at Knole from 1960, when Ann herself was 16. Here she remembers fondly Jacobine Sackville-West, Lady Sackville at the time, as well as the hazards associated with trying to have a boyfriend while living at Knole.
Ann's mother was live-in assistant to the housekeeper in 1960
Interviewed by Daphne Eatwell
Lady Sackville and the housekeeper's assistant
And your mother was a cook, did you say?
AH: She used to cook, she used to clean. Yes, general work. She used to assist Violet Loder who was the main housekeeper.
What was her name, Violet…?
AH: Violet Loder – she knew Lady Sackville from when Lady Sackville lived in London. And so when she moved to Knole Violet moved with her. She used to travel up and down each day. Her husband was a painter and decorator, and used to do quite a lot of work for them as well. She’d known Lady Sackville for years. Actually, Lady Sackville was more of a friend to people, because she had been widowed in the war, my mother was widowed in the war, so they had something in common. Very, very caring lady.
Did Lady Sackville entertain a lot?
AH: Oh yes, yes, very much so. I know one day everything had to be immaculate because the Queen Mother and Princess Margaret would be there. But they just went for afternoon tea or whatever it was. But yes, they did entertain a terrific amount.
Yes, I can imagine.
AH: Lady Sackville had very high standards, very high standards. She was in the kitchen with them working; it wasn’t just all left to them. She was a very hands-on employer.
The difficulties of courting at Knole
What was it like living at Knole?
AH: Sometimes it could be quite restrictive. If we went out in the evening, of course you had to tell the night watchman, Mr. Waddingham, as to what time you were going to be home so that he could unlock the door in the main big gates to the courtyard, so that you could get in. Otherwise you had no way of getting back in! And if you missed the time of his round you had to just stand there and wait for him to come round again or come back to you. So that could be quite restrictive, and because I knew my husband well enough when I first went up there, when he visited and was going home, we then had to make sure that we told the night watchman what time he was leaving so he could unlock the door again so he could get out.