Have you ever wondered what it would be like to live on St. Michael’s Mount, with trips to the mainland regulated by weather and tides? As an adult, one might find it occasionally frustrating, but according to Gill Joyce, the speaker for our April meeting, growing up there was absolutely idyllic!
The daughter of butler Stanley Ager, Gill spent most of her childhood and teenage years living with her family in the building which now houses the Mount’s restaurant, and relishing all the opportunities for outdoor tomboy activities provided by the island’s trees, rocks and open green spaces. As a young teenager, she worked part-time on the estate in several capacities, including briefly as governess to the young St. Aubyn children – and remembers a time when the visiting Prince Charles nearly came to a sticky end in the tram chute designed to transport goods up and down from the castle and the harbour! Later, she fell in love with a Marazion boy and became – by special permission of the then Lady St. Levan – only the third bride of the century to be married in the Mount’s small chapel, and something of a national celebrity!
Equally fascinating was the book written after his retirement by Gill’s father in collaboration with Nicola St. Aubyn. In “The Butler’s Guide” can be found instructions on everything from how to iron a newspaper to how your hang your clothes correctly in the wardrobe: no wonder the book became something of a Bible for the production staff of “Downton Abbey” when they wished that popular drama to be true to the practices of running a stately home!