Sunday 31 July 1988

From A Humble Cottage To A Stately Home

Ken Doel

Ken Doel's story is one of stark contrasts - from a humble childhood spent in the small village of Horningsham on the Longleat Estate, Wiltshire, living in a gamekeeper's cottage, when there were no mod-cons or luxuries, and the greatest expectation was an annual trip by charabanc to the seaside; to his teenage days, learning the etiquette of a gentleman's gentleman during the final glorious years of the great country households, when he witnessed "from a worm's eye view" the grandeur enjoyed by those who could afford a lifestyle above his own social standing.

Ken Doel commenced his working life as a hallboy below stairs at Longleat House, then the stately home of the 5th Marquis of Bath. From there Ken progressed to five other upper-class homes before the Second World War, including Newton Park at Newton St. Loe, Somerset; Minterne House in Dorset; and Stansted Park at Rowlands Castle on the Hampshire/West Sussex border.

Although Ken's account of his early years has the occasional tinge of sadness, it certainly cannot be described as a grim reminder of the old days. He has vividly recalled many lighter moments and tells of some embarrassing times. Above all, Ken Doel's memoirs are written with warmth and affection for his lost youth, and they serve as a worthy record of a young man's experiences during the 1920s and 30s.

From A Humble Cottage To A Stately Home.
Ken Doel.
Softback, 210 mm x 143 mm, 72 pages, 54 black and white photographs.
Published by Wylye Valley Publications.
July 1988.
ISBN 0950929158.