The weekend before last John and drove down to Bournemouth  on a special mission.  The mission: to meet Win Kail (nee Bugg), an amazing old lady who celebrated her 100th birthday last December.

In 1932 Win arrived at Staunton Harold Hall by laundry van (the family having gone ahead) late one evening along with the cot and pram for Robin Shirley, the future 13th Earl Ferrers.  This was her first visit to Staunton Harold, she was seventeen years old and nursery maid to Elizabeth, Penelope and Robin, children of Viscount and Viscountess Tamworth.  The family lived in London, but every year would go to stay with grandparents, Earl and Countess Ferrers, for about a month.

The house that first evening appeared huge.  There was no electricity, just candles and oil lamps, which Mr Stone, the butler, kept trimmed.  Win felt very nervous, there was a strict hierarchy among the servants and to begin with she didn’t know her place.  This mattered next morning when they all had to walk in single file to the Dining Room for morning prayers, read by Earl Ferrers.  She recalled how her feed ached, and how quickly her shoe soles wore out running up and down the stone stairs between the kitchen and the nursery, trying to keep the food warm.

In 1937 Earl Ferrers died, and the young family moved into the Hall, where they remained until war broke out. Win stayed until 1938, by which time she’d been promoted to nanny, but with the children away at boarding school she was no longer needed.  Lady Ferrers offered her the job of Sewing Maid, but she declined; it was children she wanted to look after.

During her many visits, and the time she lived here, Win only saw the servants quarters, and a few other rooms.  The State Rooms and Main Staircase were out of bounds, though she does remember seeing the huge stuffed Chartley Bull in the Great hall.  Looking after the Shirley Family and living in the Hall was a happy time for her, and she remembers it with great affection.  She has remained in touch with the family.