Faithful even in Death

Monday 31st July 2023

The two branches of the family are thought to have divided in the 16th century. Nevertheless a Family Reunion was considered worthwhile. So I boarded for Yorkshire – a long way from the Far West, I’m sure you’re thinking.

Best not to ask – anyway, I don’t know the answer. There were mansions in the offing, so 1st class conveyance was more than justified.

A Family Reunion is often no such thing because one has never met them before. The first encounter is always excruciating because in addition to the standard awkwardness of meeting strangers is a nightmare entanglement with the family tree. Who are you and why?

One of the mansions was being renovated. There was aristocracy and editorship of one of our foremost decor magazines heavily present on the side married into, our side resolutely Landed Gentry of course. So the renovation was absolutely purring, only the kitchen questionable being evidently really some other room. What a mansion – the dream suite of drawing rooms at the front with floor to ceiling windows and the spiral staircase by a protege of Carr of York – important.

The other mansion could only be penetrated through paddocked barriers. ‘Burglars,’ the owner said. ‘We don’t insure the contents and they’re gradually leeching away.’

This owner was said to be a terrible driver. None of the others would get in his car. The car itself was more of a toy car of an unknown brand, a tiny box, despite huge commercial holdings of this twig of the family. Where was the limo and feur? The driving was not so much bad as non-existent. Could you call it driving? Just wheezing along in 1st gear and stopping randomly in the middle of roundabouts.

On the Sunday we visited the graves of the Yorkshire family. There was one small cremation tablet set apart in a sea of mud. ‘Lump!’ somebody shrieked. ‘Can’t she be moved?’ ‘Who was Lump?’ I inquired. The nanny, it seemed. What devotion, I said, to be buried with her employers through all Eternity. How right. But also right that she should be apart, in the servant’s quarters, as it were.

Didn’t go down well.

I recall Rufus Pitman’s favourite phrase, applied usually to Royalty dying in exile: ‘Her maid was with her to the end.’

Now surely we are ready for the final leap – that the maid or nanny is buried with the mistress or master, bonded forever in service.


Posted Monday, July 31, 2023 under Adrian Edge day by day.

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