Up and Downstairs: The English Country House Servant
The story of domestic servants is inseparable from the story of the development of the English country house as it became an icon of power, civilization and luxury. English country houses from the 17th century to the 20th century were reliant on an intricate hierarchy of servants, each of whom provided an essential skill. This is particularly true with the great estates such as Chatsworth, Knole, Holkham Hall, Waddesdon Manor, Cliveden, and Wilton, among others. For centuries, these grand houses were admired and imitated around the world.
In this lecture, Jeremy Musson will look at 600 years of British country house life and discuss the activities and servant populations of country houses and the running of the daily life of a household. He will discuss how the presence of a large country house servant body influenced the planning and shaping of the houses architecture with the development of service zones of considerable sophistication. Drawing on both published and unpublished sources, Mr. Musson will celebrate the voices of the servants who ran these vast houses and made them work. Through extracts from memoirs and letters, he will explore some of the elaborate rituals and hierarchies of noble households right up until the late-20th century.