Primary Resources

This resource gallery has been developed to be used for pre visit preparatory work and for post visit reference. You will find a range of primary documents and material here that links to the themes in each unit. By clicking on any image below you can access background information on the source and also find out where it came from and where it is currently held.

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Photograph of the staff at Fota from 1948

Treasured Times, a memory of Fota House 1947-75. Patricia Butler. 2004


In her book Treasured Times: a memory of Fota 1947-1975, Patty Butler - who joined the household staff as a maid- recounts her days working at the house. Patty's recollections give us a marvellous insight into life and work in a big house. In the following passages Patty describes sleeping accommodation at Fota both for guests and servants.

'In the evening before dinner it was my job to remove bedspreads, turn down beds and prepare hot water bottles. Some guests had their own beautifully covered bottles, otherwise stone jars were used. Most ladies brought their own pillows covered in satin pillow cases because they believed that satin did not crease the face. They had pink satin nightdress cases, covered with lace and tied with ribbons.

Names were given to the first floor bedrooms, sometimes according to the colour or design of the wallpaper -e.g. Blue Room, Pink room, Shamrock Room, Orange Room, Corner Room, North room, Boudoir and South Room etc. The North Rooms were always given to titled people. Gentlemen on their own usually occupied the Orange Room and Shamrock Room. the Corner Room was usually given to a lady on her was my job to serve the single lady as long as she stayed at Fota. All the bedrooms were furnished with a dressing table, armchair, writing desk, chair, wardrobe and a locker concealing a chamber pot. The Chamber pots were decorated with flowers and fancy borders to match the china on the mantelpiece.
Major and Mrs Bell's bedroom, the South Bedroom, was decorated entirely in white, including the furniture. their adjoining bathroom was state of the art for its time. The bath was green and surrounded with oak panelling, the taps were gold in colour and the entire suite was decorated with green and gold wallpaper.

The servants slept in a separate wing of Fota house and green baize doors kept them apart from the family and guests. All the servants' bedrooms were of a standard compact size containing one or two single beds, a fireplace, lockers, wahstable and basin. The servants quarters were later added on to the main building and overlooked the kitchen yard on one side and the walled gardens on the other. Unfortunately for the servants the hedges often obscured the view through certain windows.'

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