Women in Country Houses - both above and below stairs

SPEAKER: Janet Peacock

Friday, September 16 at 3pm
Wrecking Ball Arts Centre,

Until quite recently, women, what ever their status, were subservient to men, although widows enjoyed a degree of independence, they had no control over their assets. Women above stairs could inherit money or land, though, like the Sledmere estates, inherited by Mary Sykes, they would immediately pass into a husband’s possession. And Anne Clifford fought for nearly 40 years to regain her inheritance from her uncle.

Above stairs, women were encouraged to find influential husbands while women below stairs were discouraged from marrying if they wished to remain in service.

Yet, William Constable provided his footman with a pension to enable him to marry his sister Winifred’s lady’s maid. Good employers looked after their workforce. Mrs Conyers, housekeeper at Burton Constable Hall received medical treatment paid for by her employer. Conversely, both the housekeeper and cook at Sledmere House were fired when their new mistress arrived.

In the country house today, the traditional roles for women, both above and below stairs, have virtually disappeared, though they can still be seen in re-enactments on TV.

Booking Details

No booking required


Access by stairs only to first floor

COVID-19 Considerations

This event will run in line with local & national government guidelines at the time of the festival.

Additional Information

Contact for the day:John Netherwood

Organised by

John Netherwood