Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)

Pemberley (Lyme Park, Cheshire)
Oh, to be in England...

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Secrets of the Manor House

Jennie Jerome, standing (mother of Sir Winston Churchill) with her mother, sisters and families
Most PBS stations are airing Secrets of the Manor House this Sunday at 8:00 pm, just before Downton Abbey. Although not really revealing many secrets, it's a fascinating program giving viewers some historical background to the aristocratic lifestyle portrayed in shows like DOWNTON ABBEY and THE BUCCANEERS.

Night view of a Manor House
"A fascinating glimpse of life behind the velvet curtains, SECRETS OF THE MANOR HOUSE goes inside the great homes of Edwardian England, recently brought to life on PBS’ MASTERPIECE. One hundred years ago the British manor house was in its heyday, sheltering families of enormous wealth and privilege within its stately walls. But what was really going on behind closed doors, where these wealthy families and their poor servants coexisted?"

Real life Butler Geoffrey Dymond at Manderston House in Scotland
Butler Geoffrey Dymond still serves Lord  Palmer, 4th Baron of Reading at Manderston House on the Scottish borders, south of Edinburgh. Poor Lord Palmer has been keeping the place running recently by letting THE EDWARDIAN COUNTRY HOUSE (MANOR HOUSE) film their reality show there in 2003. Lord Palmer also famously offered wine and sandwiches to anyone who would polish his silver balustrade!

The staircase at Manderston: Wine and sandwiches anyone?
But this is not the story of current day Manor Houses, which are rented out for weddings and shooting parties in order to pay the extraordinary upkeep. This show is about the heyday of the Manor House, where a Lord only had to find a rich American heiress in order to finance his lifestyle. Sound familiar?

Servants at Petworth House-The cook looks well fed!

This is the story of footmen and scullery maids overseen by the butler and the housekeeper, who serve milord and milady. As my great-great-grandmother worked as a kitchen maid in a great house in the north of England in the 1850s, I have much sympathy for the below stairs staff (Daisy is one of my favourite Downton characters-I hope she falls for William soon) but I also enjoy seeing how the other 1% lived and loved!

The kitchen at Dunham Massey House

So if you are ready for a nice lead-in to Downton Abbey this Sunday night, tune in to Secrets of the Manor House at 8 o'clock and get in that Edwardian mood.  Mmmmm....can you smell the fresh air now?

Dunham Massey House
NB Check local listings, which in PBS speak means that some PBS stations are carrying this just before Downton and some are not. Same with the wonderful series Sherlock which is being rerun on some stations right after Downton at 10 pm. However, residents of the USA can access the online video of the program at as of Monday January 23rd. It will apparently be on DVD and on iTunes as well.


  1. this looks great. those photos are amazing. thanks for digging them up.

  2. Thanks for the tip off! I'll be sure to watch.

  3. Thanks for the tip--sounds like an enjoyable companion to DA.

  4. @Suzan, Alexa and Jane-I hope you all enjoy it. One hour of Downton seems too short so it's always great to extend it!




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