After writing about the mansion at Shugborough Hall in my last blog post, this post will focus on the Servant’s Quarters, located adjacent to the mansion. The Servant’s Quarters have been restored to how they would have looked in 1871, and are staffed with fully costumed volunteers and employees believing it to be that year.
Interestingly, the Servant’s Quarter’s roof is made from Penrhyn slate which was owned by the Pennant family of Penrhyn Castle. The entrance to the Servant’s Quarters is located in the first courtyard, which now houses the National Trust shop and Lady Walk Tea Room. The courtyard would have originally been an area to store household waste.
After entering the Servant’s Quarters and walking through the Coach House, you arrive in the second courtyard.
From this courtyard you enter the Kitchen and main rooms that make up the servant’s quarter visitor attraction.
When first entering the Kitchen buildings, the first room you will enter is the Scullery with a table dressed with fresh vegetables. The Scullery would have been a delivery area, where the gardeners and gamekeepers would deliver crops and game. Walking through the Scullery you will come to the Main Kitchen.
The Kitchen is an enormous room with very high ceilings, created in such a way to disperse heat generated from an open fire and later, the range. The range cooker seen in the photograph above was installed in the mid-nineteenth century and is in working order still today.
The Anson family were fond of French chefs, who were regularly employed by the family from the 1870’s until the 1930’s, though there was no French chef there on my visit.
After exploring the Kitchen the next room you will visit is the Servant’s Hall.
The Servant’s Hall was the dining room for the indoor servants. Due to it’s location, the servants were guaranteed to have hot food, whereas the family who ate at the far end of the mansion often had only lukewarm meals.
When seated for dinner at seven-thirty in the evening, the butler and housekeeper sat at either end of the table, with senior servants on chairs and lower ranking servants on benches. Servants were able to begin eating after the butler and housekeeper had begun, and were not able to eat after the butler and housekeeper had finished.
Once a month formal dances were held for the servants in the Servant’s Hall, and similarly at Christmas, a special dinner was provided along with ale and brandy.
After leaving the Servant’s Hall, you walk through another door off the courtyard and into the Laundry.
The Laundry is separated into two sections; the wet laundry and the drying/ironing area. Maids would spend the first half of the week washing clothes in the wet laundry and second half, drying and ironing.
At the centre of the room is a large contraption used to iron out creases on tablecloths and bedding. Due to its size, the house’s handyman would have to spend one day a week helping out with its use.
After the Laundry, you proceed up a flight of stairs and into the upper rooms housing the Servant’s Bedroom, Schoolroom, and County Museum exhibition.
The Servant’s Bedroom is a relatively new addition to the Servant’s Quarters where visitors are able to try out the bed.
The upstairs section also houses an exhibition of Victorian clothing, shoes and other miscellaneous items owned by Staffordshire County Council. After viewing these, the Schoolroom and Shops, you finish in the Brewhouse.
The restored Brewhouse produces gallons of beer and is one of the only commercial brewhouse of its kind in the country, using traditional methods.
Beer (or ale) has been an important drink in Britain since before the Roman Conquest. Water was far too unsanitary to drink and tea and coffee were expensive for lower classes to purchase, meaning they were heavily reliant on cheap beer. Servants were often given a daily allowance of beer which also formed part of their wages, at Shugborough staff were given an allowance of up to one gallon of beer a day. Beer was a good energy drink for domestic servants who led rather physically demanding lives, it’s sugar and yeast content provided them with a much needed energy boost.
Walking through the Brewhouse, visitors are offered the chance to sample Shugborough’s home brewed beer before exiting Servant’s Quarters.
Staffordshire County Museum
The Schoolroom is a reproduction of a nineteenth century village school, where children paid one penny a day to attend.
After the schoolroom, you walk back down a set of stairs and into the first of the shops that make up the Street Area.
Today’s blog post has been slightly shorter than my last two, and perhaps that is a good thing indeed for they were rather long. Part Four will discuss the nineteenth century working farm.
- http://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/shugborough-estate/ – National Trust Webpage
- http://www.shugborough.org.uk – Official Shugborough Website
- http://www.staffordshire.gov.uk/leisure/museums/exhibitions/shugborough/Shugborough.aspx#servants – Article about Shugborough by Staffordshire County Council, with a section about the lives of servants at Shugborough Hall.