When twenty two year old glamour model Arabella Mason took on the role of a costumed guide at the Manor Farm Museum in Cornwall little did she realise how much it would change her life. Unable to find full time modelling work she became the most popular guide at the museum and a firm favourite with her male colleagues overnight.
Arabella gave an insight into her experiences in an interview with Cornish Life editor, Jessica Jackson-Tandy.
“I saw the advert in the local Advertiser asking for guides to dress up in nineteenth century costume and look after visitors. I've done French maids and nympho traffic wardens so I thought I’d take the bull by the horns and apply. They had a role as milk maid to the local squire which, I thought, sounded like a bit of a giggle.”
Arabella was invited to interview with Farm Manager, Ernest Braintree also known as ‘Squire Trevellyan’ in his costumed role at the Museum.
“I’ll never forget that interview.” She enthused, “I had to try on a tight bodice which made my boobs swell out of all proportion. Then I suddenly had my fingers around a cow's teats pulling and tugging at them until every last drop was drained into a tin pail. Mr Braintree looked on and I could see from his sweaty brow that he was very impressed with my technique. In fact he worked up a right froth because he was so nervous for me. He then asked me to be his personal maid servant.”
As part of Arabella’s training she was put through a total immersion course into rural life at the turn of the 19th century. “I learned a lot of period skills and had instruction from the wheelwright, farrier and blacksmith who all gave me a thorough taste of life as it might have been on a Victorian country estate for a young milk maid. Until then I hadn’t realised how tough it could be for a fresh faced young country girl in those times.”
Arabella also spent time in the orangery, green house and the traditional 19th century vegetable and herb patch with head gardener Joseph Longthorpe who described her as “a complete natural.”
“Joe taught me everything he knew about traditional propagation techniques and furrowing. He’s a real dab hand at everything. I’m now looking forward to getting out into the nearby fields for a spot of ploughing with Mr Smithson, the Museum’s resident farmer.”
Arabella was also put through her domestic paces by head house keeper, Miss Devenish. “She was a bit of task mistress but beneath all that tweed, tobacco and starch she had a really playful side. She often chased me around the kitchen parlour or gave me a friendly goose when I was cleaning the cast-iron range or making the beds. She did it once when I was bending over and drawing up water from the well. I got soaked to the skin and had to hang my bodice on the Sheila Maid to dry for an hour, my nipples were so cold they stood out like organ stops. So Miss Devenish turned up the heat a little. We really are one big happy family here.”
A spokesman for Manor Farm Museum said, “Children and adults will be able to see Arabella and her team in action when doors open again next Spring.”