Christmas and Birthdays with the Kekewich Family
Samuel Trehawke Kekewich Esq. M.P. of Peamore House was born on the 31st October 1796 and died on the 1st June 1873, he was the son of Samuel Kekewich and Salome Sweet.
Christmas day was a private celebration for S. T. Kekewich Esq and his family but the following day, Boxing Day, Mr Kekewich gave orders to Charles Pugsley, the jovial butler, and Mrs Kekewich gave orders to Mrs Wiltshire, the housekeeper, to prepare for the customary servant's parties.
Singers from Alphington (sometimes Exminster) came to the first party at 6pm to sing and play pieces for the Kekewich family. After the singing the servants would commence dancing and sometimes the Misses Kekewich would join in.
A Christmas log on the fire in the splendidly decorated hall lit up the room with its glow. There were wonderful refreshments including a copper containing old nut brown ale. A bunch of mistletoe hung overhead and every now and again a lady was taken underneath it and kissed. A berry was sometimes taken off the cluster and presented to the lady as a token of future happiness. Comic songs were then sung and then Mr Pugsley handed round roast beef and ale. At the end of the evening the National Anthem was sung and three cheers were given to Mr and Mrs Kekewich and their family.
At the second party on the following evening a company of young men played pieces; their dress was described as droll. The character of Father Christmas was introduced and this caused much amusement. At the end of the evening refreshments were served.
The next evening another choir of singers came to perform. After this there was another servant's dance and that brought the Christmas festival to a close.
Mr Kekewichs' Birthday
Mr Kekewichs' birthday was on the 31st October and his butler and housekeeper were given orders to prepare ' the necessaries' for his invited guests. These guests were old servants and past labour still living on the estate, out-door work people and their wives, servants and their friends, and tradesmen that worked for Mr Kekewich. Dinner, tea and super took place in the servants hall. Dinner consisted of roast beef, plum pudding and a good wine from the cellar. The supply of this wine was under the control of the housekeeper, butler and cook; the servants drank moderately but 'they made themselves happy and comfortable'.
In the evening bowls of punch were carried on a large waiter by the coachman Mr Alfred Todd, the groom Mr William Jewell, the footman Charles Green and the page boy. They carried it from the pantry to the hall singing 'give me the punch ladle that fathoms the bowl'. Glasses were filled to the brim, Mr Kekewich's wealth was proposed and he was wished many happy returns of the day. They also drank to the health of Mrs Kekewich and their children.
Tea for the wives and servants was prepared by the housekeeper, the upper servants and anyone else who wished to give a hand and was served in the housekeepers' room. There was an abundance of tea, coffee and cake.
After tea one of the Misses Kekewich gave order to prepare for a dance, she and her partner led off with the first dance. At the end of the day the National Anthem was sung and then everyone wished Mr and Mrs Kekewich and their family health and long life.
Researched from the 'Reminiscences of John Hele of Alphington' 1870.
Copyright © Rowena Kirkpatrick