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23 Jan 2024
updated 23 Jan 2024

Ives the Butler

I think we were brave in engaging as Butler for Hipswell Lodge, the Duke of Beaufort's first footman from Badminton.

Mrs. Hunt – the well-known provider of servants – warmly advised us to do so; he was, she said, a very nice man, anxious to gain experience with a small staff before becoming butler in another noble household.

So he arrived, and after speaking to him I went off in search of my precious sons.

And what did I find? In one of the outhouses behind the stables, our new butler happily helping Ron to put an end to his menagerie of white mice. They had, Ron said, become cannibalistic and the penalty was death. He had obtained chloroform for this from the chemist in Richmond and Ives had undertaken to assist as his opening duty in the house.

This made a very pleasant start for Ives in our midst, where he stayed for several years, and he was a great success.

What in retrospect, however, is astonishing is that the chemist should have been happy to supply a young boy with chloroform! Such though was the case in those far-off days. Ron must have gone in to Richmond with the head groom, Norman, in the trap and perhaps that was enough to persuade the chemist that all was well.