This is an account of the lives of the families and the servants of the British country house from the end of the Napoleonic wars to the onset of the Great War. It is a pioneering history based on contemporary records, diaries, private and public autobiographies, and on the childhood recollections of living descendants. Never before have the intimacies of life above and below stairs been depicted with such clarity and vividness.
Country house family and servants were the two elites of British society and this was the period of their greatest prosperity. They were closely reliant on each other. 'Our servants and we are all members of a large family, who cannot get on independently of each other, ' Lady Jenne wrote in 1892. The omnipresence of the servants affected every aspect of the family's behavior and the family shared the lives of the servants: the country house was a community. The power base of the nation's political establishment, it was also home - a tangible symbol of lineage, permanence and stability, embodying in its fabric, decoration and ritual the accumulations and memories of successive generations.
The book is illustrated with rare contemporary photographs, is fully referenced, has a wide ranging bibliography of primary and secondary sources, and is comprehensively indexed. Its evocation of a style of life and ways of living that have now largely vanished will be of equal interest to scholar, student and general reader.
"In spite of the number of books on the topic, Jessica Gerard has
managed to make an important contribution ..." The American
"Gerard's account breaks new ground in several ways. It studies
the country house as a functioning machine, gives much more
attention to upper-class women, explores the relationships between
masters and servants and it strikes a nice balance between the
forces of continuity and change as they affected the 19th-century
country house. Fascinating and well documented study." The
"With admirable objectivity, the author challenges the myths and
misconceptions of country-house life and, in doing so, helps to
explain the enduring attraction of her subject ..... Absorbing and
scholarly." Country Life
"We know a great deal about the theory of country houses, both
as machines for living and as power bases for the landed classes,
but not much about the actual practice of living in and running
them. Jessica Gerard, in this finely researched book, breathes life
into the theory, and fills the country house with real people. It
is on the servants that Jessica Gerard has her most absorbing
material, and it is in analysing their lives, careers and relations
with their employers that she makes her most striking contribution
to scholarship. ... Jessica Gerard has furnished a fully documented
and verified version not simply of Upstairs, Downstairs, but
of all the different worlds of servants' halls. It is a notable
achievement." The Times Literary Supplement
1. Demography of the Family.
2. The Country House Childhood.
3. Parents and Children.
4. Courtship and Marriage.
5. The Lives of Women.
6. Staff Size.
7. Demography of Servants.
8. Gentleman's Service.
9. Life Below Stairs.
10. Employers and Servants.
Series: Family, Sexuality and Social Relations in Past Times
Number Of Pages: 388
Published: 1st October 1994
Country of Publication: GB
Dimensions (cm): 24.13 x 16.11
Weight (kg): 0.68
Edition Number: 1