Christina Hardyment

Author and Journalist

Behind the Scenes: Domestic Arrangements In Historic Houses

Originally published by Penguin as Home Comfort, this book was republished with wonderful images in both colour and black and white from the National Trust’s superb photograph library. I was lucky enough to be allowed to browse through the photographs myself, cherry-picking my favourites. It begins with the allcomers welcome, male-dominated houses of medieval times, exploring the cellars and attics of Speke Hall, near Liverpoo and Cotehele in Cornwall, as well as many others. Then come such Tudor great houses as Charlecote, and classical mansions of the eighteenth century – those of Northern Ireland (Castle Coole, Castle Ward and Florence Court) remained especially rich in domestic quarters. The Victorians were amazingly inventive, most of all William Armstrong at  Cragside, in Northumberland, where orange pots rotated hydraulically in the greenhouse. Butler’s pantries and housekeeper’s stillrooms, game larders, bakeries and breweries, laundries and dairies, were all necessities for these isolated worlds-in-themselves.