Up and Down Stairs : The History of the Country House Servant, Paperback Book

Up and Down Stairs : The History of the Country House Servant Paperback

4.5 out of 5 (2 ratings)


Country houses were reliant on an intricate hierarchy of servants, each of whom provided an essential skill.

Up and Down Stairs brings to life this hierarchy and shows how large numbers of people lived together under strict segregation and how sometimes this segregation was broken, as with the famous marriage of a squire to his dairymaid at Uppark.

Jeremy Musson captures the voices of the servants who ran these vast houses, and made them work.

From unpublished memoirs to letters, wages, newspaper articles, he pieces together their daily lives from the Middle Ages through to the twentieth century.

The story of domestic servants is inseparable from the story of the country house as an icon of power, civilisation and luxury.

This is particularly true with the great estates such as Chatsworth, Hatfield, Burghley and Wilton.

Jeremy Musson looks at how these grand houses were, for centuries, admired and imitated around the world.


  • Format: Paperback
  • Pages: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton General Division
  • Publication Date:
  • Category: Social & cultural history
  • ISBN: 9780719597305

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Showing 1 - 2 of 2 reviews.

Review by

Acquired via BookCrossing 22 Apr 2011 - bookringThe author has clearly consulted many sources, and uses them wisely and well in presenting a history of the country house servant from Medieval times to the present. I particularly liked the strand about the architects and architectural features involved, which was brought right up to date with a discussion of present-day needs and requirements. Well put together but I have to say that, although a copy-editor is thanked in the acknowledgements, there were some very odd sentences, which were a bit off-putting!

Review by

Well-researched and easy to read, this book at once satiated my desire to know more about the history of the country house servant and left me wanting more. The author did a very good job showing not only the tasks and lives of the servants, but also how and why that lifestyle evolved, as well as how that, in turn, affected architectural design. Plenty of quotes from both servants and masters were included, providing a fully fleshed-out view of the situation, yet the writing remained light and interesting.

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