Those of you who are smitten with the fabulous house, lifestyle and intrigues of Downton Abbey will enjoy a new addition to our collection. The Edwardian Country House provides “an intimate portrait of an opulent age”.
In the opening chapter you learn that the courting of American heiresses by English peers was common practice. “Courting” is a word too gentle for what amounted to an arranged marriage that exchanged wealth for title.
Although servants were well paid (and certainly well fed) by the standards of the day, changes in appreciation of social status – among other reasons – made for fewer workers who were willing to go into service. The author looks at the technological advances that allowed owners to make do without an army of servants. Developments like electric lights, refrigeration, washing machines and telephones had a huge impact on the running of these large homes.
Photos illustrate lovely interiors and gardens and reveal extremes of style and comfort. You see the cozy, inviting garden room at Nymans layered in oriental carpets, tapestries and cushions. At the other end of the spectrum is the fabulous carved-marble Indian Hall at Elveden, called the coldest room in the country.
Next up for me is a book recommended by a staff friend: Cobwebs and Cream Teas, a memoir about life in the National Trust House of Febrigg Hall. I think I might be dwelling in the past.