WE MET MRS CROCOMBE. || A Visit to Audley End House and Gardens [Vlog]
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WE MET MRS CROCOMBE. || A Visit to Audley End House and Gardens [Vlog]


-Guess what? Guess what? -We’re going -We’re going! [VO] Today is going to be the best day ever -The best day of my young life -We are going to Audley End. That’s right: *the* Audley End House and Gardens which
you may already be slightly familiar with if you, like us, are also complete
and utter trash for the Victorian Way series created by English Heritage
featuring the one and only Mrs Crocombe. If you missed that first video, this
all came about after Hana and I posted said video a couple of months ago, in
which we attempted to recreate one of Mrs Crocombe’s recipes for ginger
biscuits, and English Heritage most kindly decided not to sue us after
seeing it. In fact, it turns out they’re actually really cool and sent us a lot
of lovely presents including the guidebook for Audley End. The decision was
final: we had to go. [Train announcement] Harlow Town, Sawbridgeworth, Bishop’s Stortford, Audley End, Whittlesford, Shelford, and Cambridge. -We are on the train, on the way to Audley End -My dream. -We’ve been sending each other the Victorian Way Mrs Crocombe videos for literally a year. We’ve been sent this guide book by English Heritage. I have brought that with us–let me just cover your face -hey -So we’re gonna have a good read through
this – there’s the servants wing and the stables are separate from the house. We
are going to be filming in the servants wing and the stables, obviously,
because Mrs Crocombe is there. We will not be filming in the house because we
do not have permission to film in the house. We have got permission to film in
the other–the living history parts but somebody actually lives in the house so
that’s probably not fun for us to be like filming their house. Oh wait, I brought
biscuits! -You brought the biscuits? -I brought the biscuits. -The gifted biscuits? -If you saw that video
you also may know that they sent a bunch of delicious biscuits. Yeah, we have eaten
all of the rest of biscuits and some of these but we saved these because
it would make nice video feature. These are chocolate chunk and shortbread -mmmmm -It’s like 8AM Never too early for biscuits. These are really good. [VO] Audley End is, in case you’re wondering,
the perfect day trip from London: just a quick hour’s journey by train and, if you
strategically book a super off-peak ticket like we did, is around £18
return which, if you are American, you will probably gasp at the cheapness
because honestly has anyone ever seen an Amtrak ticket for less than $80 because–
anyway. The house is only a bit over a mile from the station but the website
advises not to walk since it involves main roads with no pavements. Fortunately
there are some nice taxis waiting outside the station and it’s just a
couple minutes’ drive from there. -So the house opens at 12, last entry is at 4
o’clock, closing at 5. The site closes at 6. In the kitchens you will find a…
certain lady that you’re waiting to see *distant squees* Enjoy your visit! -Thank you so much! -We have arrived, as you can see,
it is the -beautiful site -the grand, the one and only Audley End House and Gardens. Thank
You Rebecca you are amazing and very kind -so helpful -This is the most awkward camera angle I think -I’m really good at walking backwards. -Oh good, you will be our tour guide today. So Hana is genuine, bona fide, -Equestrienne -One hundred 10/10 horse trash so -You could have just said ‘equestrian’… -But this is a Bernadette Banner vlog and we call everything trash
here. -I am horse trash. -So there’s some horse demonstrations, one is at
11:00, which is… -Grooming! -Grooming. I will also not be able to tell you much about them
because I don’t know anything about horses -That’s what I’m here for! -That’s what Hana’s here for so I hope
you’re also interested in horses because– Whoa, look at that hedge! -In case you didn’t know, horses are the
period-accurate version of cars so *silent disbelief* She’s mad. -Capability Brown designed this landscape
and this might be a Capability Brown thing. So that is definitely an iconic
hedge. We are presently walking down to the stables which is a little bit ways
down from the house, which is back up over yon–excuse the muggles–then we
will head up to the house again, to the servants wing and to see Her Majesty
Our Glorious Ladyship Mrs Crocombe. So we’re just having a nice little country walk -It’s beautiful outside. Well, not sunny beautiful -No no no, it’s still beautiful it can
be beautiful without being sunny. I wonder what Mrs Crocombe is doing right
now in this very present minute. -Do you think she ever thinks about us? -I hope so. Hana is very excited because she’s
about to go see some horses. -I’m gonna cry. -Are you gonna cry as much as when you see Mrs Crocombe? -Never. [VO] So we proceeded to
have a look at the stables and watch a demonstration on horse grooming and I
feel sort of bad for woefully glossing over this bit but let’s be real, I know
most of you are just here to see Mrs Crocombe, so fear not nice stable folk,
we shall be back in a bit. -We’re going. -We’re making our final
descent -We’re heading for the service wing -The service wing for Mrs Crocombe!!! -We’re about to be in
the presence of Her Royal Majesty, Her Ladyship -Mrs Avis Crocombe. -I’m like, having heart palpitations. -We’ve literally been waited years for this moment. -I’m gonna burst into tears. Ok, this is supposedly where the service wing is. Where’s the kitchen? Where’s the kitchen? Mrs Crocombe, where are you? -We’re looking for Mrs Crocombe… ASMR Mrs Crocombe -Kitchen! Thereitisthereitisthereitis! -Hello! -How are you? -Very well! -What are you making? -Oh, I’m just doing the food preparation for Mrs Crocombe. I think she’s making a curry or something. So two onions, a ball of cabbage, and an apple. That’s what I do here in the scullery: food preparations and de-scaling the fish, guttin’ the animals, and um, chopping, peeling and washing up. -What’s your name? -My name’s Annie. -Annie! oh good to meet you! -It’s very good to meet you too. Gotta keep going. -Yes yes. -This is Mary Ann, -Oh hello Mary Ann! We’ve heard very much about you. -You find us making our cakes today–well, also curry. I’m making a curry. Yesterday, between you and I, we had a bit of a disaster with the sponge cake. Didn’t we, Mary Ann? -Yes, Mrs Crocombe. -I know you don’t like me to talk about it but
sometimes we need to learn from our mistakes. -I’m sorry, Mrs Crocombe. I don’t know what happened. I don’t know why I mixed up the salt and the sugar. -Oh no! Well it happens to everybody. -It’s a disaster. -It does happen to everybody. -It is a disaster, isn’t it? So we’re having–we’ve taken off the salt on the outside, and I’m making nice little squares of the sponge cake. The rest of it’s going to go into a cabinet pudding. -And I’m proving myself, aren’t I? -You are proving yourself, yes. You are, Mary Ann. By making another one without any salt in it. You know I happened to read in a newspaper last year that they managed to transport fresh meat from Australia…to Britain. -Wow! -That’s how far things have come. -Wow! That’s technology indeed. -It is, isn’t it? It’s wonderful to be alive in this year of 1881. With all this advancement. Well, most of it, not all of it. I’m not sure–some of the shows that Mary Ann goes to see… What about that– -The music hall? -Yes, the music halls. I’m not sure I approve of all those. –and, yes, very good; the gingerbread biscuits? -Yes. -Yes! -And have you attempted any of the others? -Not yet, but I suppose we’ll have to now! -We have to! -Well, sponge cake may not be a bad thing as we are making it today. But also you can see Queen Drop biscuits here which are a delight. Victoria sandwiches… this is yesterday’s sponge cake which we’re going to make into a cabinet pudding. So you have to be very careful: sometimes, you may suddenly find that the family call for more food than you were expecting so you always have to have something just in case. So I’m leaving that just in case, and if needed I will then decorate it for them. If not, Mr Lincoln the butler will have it. The housekeeper has all the trouble with her house maids. And so where I’m quite separate from that, I can keep my little…empire. A Queen can have an empire. I can keep my little empire here under relative control. Although you can’t control against young scullery maids deciding to go and get married. -I’m…not yet a cook but one day… if I work hard…you never know. I need to work hard so that Mrs Crocombe can write good things about the way I work. -You’re not thinking of movin’ on just yet though, Mary Ann? -No, I’ve only been here, what is it, just over a year and a half now, Mrs Crocombe? So I still…I know…I’m learning a lot but I still have a lot to learn. I’m learning from you. -I have to admit, I didn’t put the garlic in. And the onions–I need to speak to Mr Vert the gardener. They’re a bit strong. -Oooh. Lord and Lady Braybrook, being at the social standard that they are don’t like strong onion flavors. And certainly they’re not very good with garlic. They’ve become very fashionable, curries. Since the Queen became Empress of India… [VO] Can we just talk for a moment about how
cool living history is? I’m sure you’ve begun to understand this just from
watching the Victorian Way videos on YouTube, but Mrs Crocombe just feels so
real and so human. Being in the room with her in that real 19th century kitchen
with the smell of the fire burning in the range, watching her go about her
routine and interact with other members of staff can only be described as time
travel. It gives you a whole new appreciation for these mystical figures
of the past. Although yes, they are interpretations by modern folk
conjectured off of what evidence happens to survive to us today, seeing these
figures presented as living, breathing, speaking people really helps to humanize
the printed names we see in books; to relate to them in ways that make us care
so deeply about them, despite them having died centuries ago, sometimes in
relative obscurity. I think the thing that so thrills me about the Mrs Crocombe videos is how so many people can become so involved in the life of a 19th
century service woman simply because we’ve had the opportunity for her to
become a little bit more real to us. Isn’t that what we’re trying to do here,
reconstructing clothes of the past in the hopes of getting to know these
people a little bit more intimately? At least, that’s what I’m doing here. -We’re
going into the pastry room. -Which I don’t think you’ve possibly ever seen. -No, no. I…no. -So this is the pastry room, girls. And the reason we have a separate room is because, let me tell you, the kitchens get very hot. When we’ve got all of the range going and the roarin fire it can get very hot. And in here we have these nice slabs of marble
for them for the girls to roll out their pastry. The only downside to this room,
this window looks out onto where the footmen have their… So I have learnt to time the girls. I know how long it takes to make pastry. Here we have some of the cloths that you were looking at. -Oh yes! So these are crocheted? -I think I was crocheting one knitting another. -People who actually know knitting and crochet which is a lot of people on the
internet and it is not me– -They might know the difference. -People will know. -It was all of march when I was doing it and I can’t remember what I was doing. It looks to me like a standard knitting,
to be honest. So when you’re 13, like myself, you start off very low as a scullery maid and work your way up. You’ll have to come to London–go to London and find yourself a job there. But it’s word of mouth, and…and having good references. So an ideal place for a 13-year-old girl to
start is to work at a…with her local vicar. And then he can write a reference. Not only a character reference but a work reference as well. -So if anybody is interested in getting into kitchen service, do take note of Mrs Crocombe’s
words of wisdom. -You should do, young lady. You look like you might have a good character. Unless you have been performing in the music hall… -No… -That’s a lie. That’s so a lie. -I’m not lying! -Mary Ann would want to talk to you. She does like the music hall. It’s becoming very popular. (I’m not sure I approve.) -That… -I’m speechless. -We met Mrs Crocombe. -That was…the greatest moment of my life. -So we are now exiting the house proper grounds and we
are headed back down to the stables. We have stopped to have lunch because
that’s a thing that happened. Now we are headed back down to the stables where we
shall be seeing a demonstration of sidesaddle. -No, sidesaddle riding in period accurate– -Yes! And she’s going to be in a historical riding habit, which I personally am very excited about. I hope
you’re excited about that too because -I am! -isn’t that, like, why you’re here, for old
clothing and stuff. But also Mrs Crocombe. -And Bernadette’s irresistible charm. -That’s
false. So I didn’t get this bit on camera and I’m very very upset about it but we
walked in to the glorious kitchen -Beautiful. -Mrs Crocombe’s beautiful kitchen
which she maintains very nicely. She knew our names! She greeted us by name! I think that that’s a
moment that’s going to stick with me for the rest of my life. -It was so special. -It was so special. -And what we’re going to do is we’re going to be saddling Hovis for sidesaddle. The Braybrooks, the family in the house in the 1880s, love their horses, they love riding. If one of the nobles of the house wants to go riding, what they will do is they will send a runner from the house down here to the stables. From the
time that runner leaves the house, from when the order is given, you have 12
minutes. 12 minutes to get the horse saddled and at the front ready
to go so the horse needs to be there, it can’t be arriving as the lady is coming
down to go riding, it needs to be there waiting and ready.
Realistically you have less than 12 minutes or saddle up. [VO] So as you can deduce
probably, we then proceeded back down to the stables to have a slightly more
attentive visit. Then it was back up to the house, and the house proper this
time. We were given permission to film in the coal gallery, where we met Mrs
Warwick, who we do here passing mention of in the video series so it was really
cool to get to meet her in person. -Now I had to admonish one of our house maids this morning. I’m afraid to say, I told her to make sure that all rooms that our guests are staying in have rose-scented soap. Now, does
this smell like any rose you’ve ever smelled?
Yes you have a smell of that, what do you think? Mmm. Yes it’s not good is it?
I’m afraid to say these girls from the country need a deal of instruction and
discipline before we get anyone to our satisfaction. So, we’ve all got the right candles, I dare say? No one’s got a candle like that, have they? It’s for the use of servants, you see it’s got animal fat in it.
Paraffin wax is what you require, is it not? The benefit of having the coal bunkers here
in the coal gallery so that we can make sure the hot water is piping hot. Think
of those poor beleaguered housemaids in other country houses trudging up from
the ground all the way up of flights of stairs with those heavy loads. So much
more convenient to have the coal placed up here. Although of course I always
complain bitterly every time it’s delivered, for it does create a deal of
dirt and dust, does it not? So when the coal comes through this window here, I
have to make sure the family are not in residence, because otherwise it would be most deleterious to their health. You can see the hoist here. the bag is attached to the hooks, and so the
wicker baskets are winched up, basket after basket, lasting several days, to fill our bunkers. We do have coal bunkers outside in the service yard, of course. To supply the
coal to the kitchens or the dairy and the lower rooms on the ground floor. Anyone from London? -Yes! -If you go to the theatre, you might well see–the Savoy theatre, they have electric light. You see? Well as you can see, we are now on our way departing from
Audley End, headed back to the station. That was a fantastic day. That was really amazing I
mean a time favorite places I’ve been. I mean, aside from– -One of my favorite places I’ve been. Yes. The house itself was just beautiful,
so many ceilings–just like look look up at all of the ceilings there really–if
and when you come to visit Audley End, which you should because it’s really
cool. Pro tip, do be sure to get a business card from the taxi driver because if we
had not asked for how do we get back? And didn’t have that phone number we probably
wouldn’t have known what to do so that’s a New Yorker’s advice on getting taxis in
the middle of the countryside in England. -It’s like we like walked back in time. -Yeah. -For like this little pocket of the day. -No, it actually is like just being in the kitchen because it’s not just Mrs Crocombe, but it’s Annie Chase, and it’s Mary Ann, -The maids! -And you’ve got all of the the people,
the living history people and even you know upstairs in the house, we got to
meet Mrs Warwick. Mrs Warwick is awesome and she’s very underrated. -She knows a lot about soap. -Yeah I don’t think we actually met her ever on the TV series
but–TV series? YouTube series? But she’s really cool. -I would watch that as a TV series. -So definitely come say hi to Mrs Warwick as well if you come, if and when you come, and we are
now passing out of the gate, -Oh, sadly. -Back out to the road. And thus concludes our magical trip to
Audley End. But Audley End is just the beginning.
English Heritage are a fantastic charity responsible not just for maintaining
over 400 historical sites around the UK, but also working passionately to bring
history to life: through, of course, their brilliant living history
demonstrations and opportunities for hands-on experience at sites, featuring
real figures from history like Mrs Crocombe and Mrs Warwick. All this done, of
course, by working from actual historical evidence and written accounts; which, if
you’ve watched any video on my channel for more than circa 7 seconds, you will know
is my complete and utter driving lifeforce. All of this is made possible
by the generous support of the public, so next time you’re in the UK, I highly
recommend having a visit to one or more of their sites. And if you live in the UK,
you have absolutely no excuse. So thank you for coming along on this adventure
and now it’s time, for the present, at least, to return to the 21st century.
Until next time.

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