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Saturday, June 01, 2013

Life below Stairs by Sian Evans

I'd love to have lived in a large country house in England in Edwardian times - but only as the mistress or one of the daughters of the family.  Life below stairs would be much too much hard work! The job of a lady's maid, however, wasn't too bad.  They also had well-appointed rooms, earned good salaries, and were sought after by young men.  Some even married the owners of the houses!

Life below Stairs is a comprehensive, thoroughly-researched, and extremely factual look at the world of the servants in the large manors of England.  It lists each occupation and the duties of the occupation, so it is an especially useful guide for historians and writers.  However, there are also lots of interesting anecdotes, such as the story of the pastry chef at Petworth, Signor Michel Milone.  He created wonderful concoctions in his pastry kitchen, but he dressed like a 'City Gent' in a black suit with a bowler hat and an umbrella.  He hid delicious food in his pockets for his children, such as Charlotte Russe.  Another butler ate all the lamb's tongues from the family's plates, and served them plates with gravy and no meat!

Anyone interested in large Victorian and Edwardian houses and the real-life world of 'Downton Abbey' will enjoy this book.

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