Sunday, June 19, 2016

An Upstairs-Downstairs Etiquette Snafu

Not all cooks were keen to teach their skills to any of those living "upstairs" —When a servant is engaged, he enters the house for the first time through the front door. After that he regards the back door as his sole means of entrance and exit.
Mistress Fined for Invading Her Own Kitchen! 

LONDON, July 17.—There is no etiquette so strict as that which dominates London life “below stairs.” With all the upheavals of the world war, the dignity of cooks and butlers remains unassailed. 

A case was recently heard in the court wherein a cook took offense because the mistress invaded the kitchen and insisted on cooking some mutton chops herself. The insulted culinary queen immediately gave notice, and in this she was joined by her husband, the butler. Whereupon the mistress locked the back door and thus got herself sued for “wrongful imprisonment.” 

During the hearing of the case the judged asked why, if the mistress had only locked the back door, did not the couple go out by the front. The cook and butler nearly collapsed at the suggestion. "That,” said the butler, painfully surprised at the judge’s ignorance, “is against all kitchen etiquette. When a servant is engaged, he enters the house for the first time through the front door. After that he regards the back door as his sole means of entrance and exit. No self-respecting servant would dream of leaving his employer’s house by the front door!”

On inquiry, it was found that the etiquette ruling such matters was a very real thing to the circle of overlords and underlings of the kitchen, and the aggrieved pair were allowed £5 damages. — Los Angeles Herald, 1920

Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia