We went to Belton House in Lincolnshire yesterday. It is a 17th Century House with the usual tweaks made over later centuries. We did a below stairs tour while we were there.
The corridor, which I have taken a picture of, by the 19th Century was used by both male and female servants. However women were to walk on one side and men on the other, a tradition which had passed down from earlier years when the men had a separate corridor on the right.
The rooms used by the male servants, overseen by the butler, were on the right. The rooms used by the women were on the left, overseen by the housekeeper.
In the butler’s areas were the wine cellar, the beer cellar, the silver store, the lamp and candle making spaces. While the housekeepers areas included the scullery, the kitchen, the linen cupboards, and the distillery where fruit cordials and preserves were made.
The servants did not dine together, the senior female servants – and visiting female servants – dined in the housekeeper’s room. The senior male servants – and visiting male servants – dined with the steward, who was responsible for overseeing the house and estate when the family were not in residence, and for managing it when they were.
There was a hierarchy among the servants as there was within the house. They sat at table in order of their status and the minor servants – grooms, scullery maids, etc – dined in a separate area completely.
The senior servants were even waited on, and had staff who cared for their clothes and rooms and served them. In Belton the steward had his own bell to call for service.
In the butler’s room there was also a cupboard containing a bed, where an under-butler would sleep at night in case one of the family woke and rang for service.
There is an entrance to the family chapel from below stairs. The Chapel was integrated into the house and used for morning service. The servants entrance to it opens into an area facing the altar, beneath the balcony where the family would have sat. The family would not have even seen the servants beneath them.
Below I have included some pictures of below stairs and in my next blog I will share some details and pictures of the house and a surprising fact about the chapel.
Jane Lark is a writer of authentic, passionate and emotional love stories.
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