Holland Park, in the Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea, is now one of the most expensive residential areas of London. This mews is a pretty cobbled street sandwiched between two roads (both called Holland Park) lined with grand detached double-fronted Victorian villas. Construction started in the 1860s and finished in 1879.
When the 1871 census took place, around 35 houses were already occupied, with more still in construction. Half of the people living in those houses were servants, and there were more servants, such as coachmen and grooms, living in the mews buildings.
One of those servants was Louisa Atkinson, a kitchen maid aged about 19, from the wonderfully named Follifoot in Yorkshire. She was one of 13 servants listed at 18 Holland Park, the home of a metal merchant and his large family.
Not far away, in Pimlico, footman David Waller and nine others served the Wyvill family at 22 Warwick Square. David was 24 and he came from Norfolk
Somehow, the two of them met. In 1872, Louisa and David married. They settled in Cambridgeshire, where David became a fireman with the Great Eastern railway, and they went on to have a family.
I know this because they are my husband’s great great grandparents, and we have been researching our family tree. It’s taken us to some interesting places, and it’s always exciting if the buildings our ancestors lived in are still there. I wonder what modern day servants are living in those beautiful homes of the excessively rich today?