The early days of room-stewarding
Interviewed by Christine Nevard and Veronica Walker-Smith
Dorothy Raleigh began work as a room steward at Knole in the late 1970s. Things were quite different then…
D.R.: Because my daughter tells me it was after she’d gone to Sheffield and she went in 1978. So I think it must have been the late 70’s early 80’s.
Now you have told us they didn’t give you any training before you became a Steward at Knole. How did you learn the history of the house and about the different rooms?
D.R.: There was a “thing”.
D.R.: Yes, on a paddle.
Right. A board, yes.
D.R.: And I swotted it up.
So you used to move round different rooms different weeks?
D.R.: No, no. I was always stuck at the end of the gallery.
Oh goodness. So they didn’t give you any variety except when you went to the private rooms?
You became the expert on that particular gallery.
D.R.: I wasn’t an expert, I just was a – Gauleiter!
D.R.: It was two little American teenagers that stick in my mind.
Tell us about them.
D.R Well they couldn’t believe there was no electricity, because they said can we put the lights on, and I said there aren’t any lights, and they looked like that, and I said there is no electricity in the house. And they were amazed, and I said there is no running water either, ’cause there wasn’t in those days.
Right. So were there no lights at all in the showrooms?
And did you have blinds on the windows?
It was dark?
D.R.: Only when it was sunny they brought them out. That was to preserve the fabrics.