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The Country House Servant Paperback – September 25, 2002
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I did enjoy the sections on the footman and the housemaid, however. The footman may have had a longstanding reputation as an arrogant, self-important, ornamental flunkey, but the lengthy quotations and descriptions of work which Sambrook gathers from memoirs and diaries make it clear he had a very diverse collection of responsibilities, both inside and outside the house. In fact, this division of oversight between the steward and the groom only complicated his life. A great deal is also included about the footman's daily routine of cleaning and personal service, with its many variations depending on the size of the establishment in which he was employed. The housemaid -- who was not the same as a parlormaid -- was almost the invisible side of service, but she also regularly performed the greatest amount of work for the most hours in the day. Again, her exhausting daily routine is presented in great detail. It's interesting to note that, contrary to dramas like "Upstairs, Downstairs," in which the whole staff appears to have hung around for decades, there actually was considerable turnover, a new employer every eighteen months being common. That was how an ambitious footman or maid learned his or her trade. There are numerous photos, many of which I've never seen before -- but I haven't studied the country house laundry system in any detail, either. Within its limited focus, this is an excellent piece of work by a knowledgeable author.