Thursday, 20 September 2012

Servants’ stories

With quite possibly the nation’s favourite period drama back on ITV and Petworth itself starring in a few history programmes over the coming weeks (look out for us tomorrow night at 8pm on Yesterday channel in ‘Secrets of the Manor House’!), we thought you might like to hear a few stories from the servants’ who lived and worked at Petworth.

Today we have an extract from Phyllis, an under-maid who worked at Petworth in the 1930s…  

‘Ern, the footman, had a pantry just across the way and I’d see him in his livery, whistling away. Smart trousers, short jacket, waistcoat and white shirt. A footman had to (and did!) look the part. Sometimes I’d snatch a word with him on the stair but such levity was certainly not encouraged.

He’d take the food through the tunnel at meal times. It was then they’d come rushing into the kitchen with their trays, no time to waste or the food would be cold. By this time Ern and I were meeting when we could… time off was just one afternoon a week to be back by nine. Sundays off? Crumbs no, not in the kitchen. Yes, I must say I liked it there. It was hard work, at times it was very hard work but it was interesting.’

 I wonder what Phyllis would make of the cooking demonstrations we hold in the Historic Kitchens today? 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

It was pandemonium!

Hi all, Samuel here! I learnt a new word this week – ‘pandemonium’. Do you know what it means? Sadly it has nothing to do with pandas; it’s another word for chaos and describes a place or situation that is noisy or chaotic. It also describes last Thursday at Petworth House.

Teams from neighbouring National Trust places and other local attractions came for 'Pandemonium' a day of activities and team building. The seven teams took part in three different challenges...  

The Park challenge – a race around the parkland collecting materials to make a Sudan chair, which was then used to carry a team mate to the finish line. It looked like jolly hard work.

The Craft challenge - to recreate an object from the house in a mystery material, these included leaves, rice and biscuits! 

The Mental challenge – using historical records to trace current title holders.

The day finished with a BBQ in the courtyard and the presentation of the prizes – congratulations to the Petworth Portfolio team for winning the box of vintage sweets! (I had a good sniff, but I think I’ll stick to dog biscuits). 

Here's a few more of my pictures from the day.

Chairs from the park challenge

 A few of the Petworth team with their masterpiece - made out of biscuits!

 Judging the craft challenge.

You can also see pictures from last year here

Which challenge would you like to have taken part in?

Thursday, 6 September 2012

Heritage Open Days

This Saturday (8th September) we’re participating in Heritage Open Days, an annual event where the doors are thrown open to the public for free. By kind permission of Lord and Lady Egremont the private guest bedrooms, which are normally only open to the public on Tuesday and Wednesday afternoons, will be on show.

Here are a few things to look out for on your visit…

  • The State Bed in Mrs Wyndham’s Bedroom, an English rococo masterpiece, was made in the 1750s for the 2nd Earl of Egremont. Exhibited at the Victoria and Albert Museum in 1984, it underwent restoration work as the Dowager Lady Egremont used to keep a pet owl which nested in the gold tree at the top!
  • Matching full-length portraits of King George III and Queen Charlotte by Studio of Alan Ramsay in Mrs Wyndham’s Bedroom.
  • A pocket book (purse) given to the Countess of Egremont by Queen Charlotte in 1785.
  • The Chippendale bed in the Belzamine Bedroom dates from the 1770s and is one of four identical beds commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Egremont. The story goes that he wanted to sleep in a familiar bed whenever he stayed at one of his four houses!
  • The William Morris wallpaper and curtains in Mrs Wyndham’s Dressing Room.
  • A medal awarded to a member of the family by the Royal Humane Society for saving Winston Churchill from drowning at Harrow School in 1889.
The bedrooms will be open 11am to 4.30pm on Saturday. On your visit, why not also pop into the Historic Kitchens and sample some of our historic cook’s food made to traditional country house recipes?

 The State Bed in Mrs Wyndham's Bedroom