Daisy Noakes

Image accompanying MP3 audio clip: Daisy Noakes and her son in 2000 ( KB)

Daisy Noakes and her son in 2000

Click to hear Daisy speak

Photo:Daisy at 14 years old

Daisy at 14 years old

Donated by Daisy Noakes

Photo:Daisy 'in service' at Ovingdean Hall. Pictured here (back left) with the Butler and some of the other girls on the staff.

Daisy 'in service' at Ovingdean Hall. Pictured here (back left) with the Butler and some of the other girls on the staff.

Donated by Daisy Noakes

A maid's working life in 1923

By Jennifer Drury

Daisy Noakes got a job 'in service' at the age of fourteen. She worked as a maid at a 'school for young gentleman' in Ovingdean village.

I interviewed Daisy in 2000 for an oral history book I was producing as part of the millennium celebrations for Ovingdean village. At the time she was 91, and although she had completely lost her sight, she was still managing to live independently in a flat in Brighton.

Transcript for 'Daisy Noakes and her son in 2000':

Five in the morning till ten at night
"My hours were from five in the morning till ten at night and I was on the go the whole time with cleaning and sweeping, dusting, polishing...

They kept you on the go the whole time except for eating your meals. But we only had half an hour before lunch, just to have a cup of coffee and a biscuit and go the toilet, and lunchtime we had one hour. Then we had to, in the meantime, eat our food. That was a first and second course, which was good for me, because we never had that at my home; there was more food than we had, because I was one of ten children.

Change into our afternoon clothes
And then in that hour we had to go up and wash and change into our afternoon clothes. We were in blue dresses in the morning with big white aprons like a nurse wears, so there were collars and cuffs, but in the afternoon we had to go and change into black, and that was a black dress and then you had a little fancy apron but still the celluloid collars and cuffs and still black shoes and that.

You musn't show hair
We were allocated a hat that was three tiers of fluted material that we had to tie on with a black velvet band, to tie on our heads. In the morning we had a what they called a dorcas cap; that was like a mob cap with just a cuff on it, and rather than show any hair, it all had to be poked up underneath. You musn't show hair.

Now, my hair only came to my shoulders then, but at any rate the matron got hold of it, got it back, wound some raffia round it, and poked it up under my hat. She said: 'You musn't show any hair!'. I thought 'Oh dear, how am I going to keep this on? But I did."

This page was added on 22/06/2007.
Comments about this page

It was fantastic to hear Daisy speak. I had the privilege of meeting her at the launch of the oral history book of Ovingdean Village for which she was interviewed. Even at over ninety years old she was a hoot. The audio extract really makes the words come alive - it would be great if there were more of the same on the site.

By Tony Mould (22/06/2007)

I live in Ovingdean and I would love to hear more about Daisy and Ovingdean Hall. I really enjoyed hearing her voice because she sounded such a lively old lady. Bet she had lots more stories to tell - please do let us hear them. Great site!

By June Higgins (23/06/2007)

I am so glad I looked on the 'What's New' otherwise I might have missed this. What a great idea to have audio interviews. I enjoy reading about life experiences of people who lived through hard times like Daisy here - but to be able to hear the 'real' voice is a big plus. Do hope that you plan to publish more. Keep up the good work.

By Colin Leach (24/06/2007)