The Victorian and Edwardian eras in the run-up to 1914 marked the golden age of the English country house, when opulence and formality attained a level that would never be matched again.
The ease of these perfect settings for flirtation and relaxation was maintained by a large and well-trained staff of servants.
Although those 'in service' worked very long hours and had little personal freedom, many were proud of their positions and grateful for the relative security these gave.
Indeed, the strictly hierarchical world below stairs could be more snobbish than that of a house's owners.
Michael Paterson skilfully and entertainingly explores the myths and realities of this vanished world, both upstairs and down.