a cooking range in use in the 1930s 
similar to the one Dorothy used to light.

(source: Muckross Research Library,  
Killarney, Co. Kerry)

I went into service when I was 14 years old. The house was 14 miles away from my home in Herefordshire. This was 1930. I was a 'Between Maid'. This meant both the Head-housekeeper and the Cook told me what to do. There was a staff of seven at that house and I was the youngest.

I was up at 6.30am. The bedroom was cold, no heating, and no hot water to wash with. Many's the time I had to break the ice before I could wash. I had to clean the range with blacklead and light it. The sticks had been put in the oven overnight to dry out. I used to light the sticks with the coal placed on top. Then I had to sweep and wash down the front steps. There were 5 steps, and I had to clean the brasses on the front door. Every day, I had to do this. Then I laid the table for breakfast.

At 8am I took the Housekeeper up her cup of morning tea on a tray. Then I helped with the toast for breakfast, which was cooked by Cook. I ate my own breakfast on the go, when I could - I had a job to keep up with all I was told to do. If I didn't keep up, at the end of the month they might say I had to go, and get rid of me. Because both Cook and Housekeeper gave me jobs to do, it was always difficult to keep up. Then I used to clear and wash up breakfast, and go upstairs to help with the bedrooms.

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