Thursday, 12 April 2018

Below Stairs

Evening all...one has been poking around the NT property of Uppark. I took my camera hoping to wow you with all the splendour of the posh rooms, but alas and alack I was thwarted because of a rule which only allows pictures in the servants' quarters. No matter.

If I can't show you images of the real thing why not the not so tiny dollshouse downstairs eh!



This rather magnificent 18th century edifice belonged to Sarah Lethieullier and she brought it to Uppark upon her marriage to Matthew Fetherstonhaugh in 1746. She was quite the gal because she accompanied her husband on the Grand Tour to Italy...a most unusual state of affairs for a woman to enter what had traditionally been very much a male only domain. No doubt a few eyebrows were raised at her impertinence.


The property seems to have had more than its fair share of strong willed women. The miniature servants might be depicted as mute and servile in this setting, but I should think there was a great deal of tittle tattling as the staff went about their work below stairs. One can only imagine the conversations held in the kitchen, the scullery or even the Butler's Pantry......





...after the rumours of one rather fast lady [for want of a better word] called Emma Hart dancing on the tables naked [you might know her better as Lady Hamilton, mistress of Nelson] or when old Sir Henry Fetherstonhaugh married the estate dairy maid who was fifty years his junior. Perhaps these tales were related to a young H G Wells when his mother, Sarah, was the housekeeper in the late 1800s. She was very hard of hearing and a special extra homemade set of bells had to be rigged up so that she would know when her services were required. The writer later recalled just how hopeless she was at her role and eventually she was sacked by the family!


From my perspective I was keen to find out what an old piece of bone was doing amongst all the shoe cleaning stuff and what on earth the butler used the curved tool for.


The marvellous room steward [is there anything they don't know?! I am in awe!] sated my curiousity and I now know the former was for pushing the polish into the boots to waterproof them and the latter was heated and then used to iron out the creases of top hats. That little bit of info was enough to keep me happy and sally forth to refresh myself with a well deserved cuppa and a bun!

Arilx




7 comments:

  1. Doll House envy here! I had a home made one when I was little but no dolls and the furniture was made from match boxes..........not quite the same.

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    1. I had a very similar affair when I was a child....it was a toy and we played with it accordingly. I had to wait a long time before I had one of my own and it's still nowhere complete! Arilx

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  2. That doll's house is glorious! I love it. We're they called Baby houses back then? Given to the daughters of affluent families to help them learn about how to decorate and manage a home?
    I like the sound of Sarah Lethieullier. xxx

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    1. Yes you're spot on Vix. According to the blurb this one though lacks the washing/servants quarters so would have more likely been like the chaps equivalent of a cabinet of curiousities. Arilx

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  3. Fascinating, both the dollshouse and the kitchen. The dollshouse has that eerie feeling of ghosts and times gone past. Have you ever read The Miniaturist?

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    1. I have read the book and thoroughly enjoyed it. Thought the tv depiction was good too...the cabinet they made for it was offered for sale a couple of weeks ago on a dollshouse facebook site.
      Arilx

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  4. Lovely dolls house...never had one...but have spent some time with nose pressed against window looking in awe at some beautiful pieces. x

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