A servants life: exploring living history

Living History Ickworth

Explore our 1930s servants basement through those who lived there.

Have you ever wondered what life would be like as a servant in the past? What the busy corridors in the basement of a great house would feel like? How kitchens preparing sumptuous meals would smell and how the chit chat in the servants' halls would sound?

Learn 1930s techniques from our Living History Cooks
Living History Cooks

During our Living History days, our volunteer intrepreters bring the basement to life by re-enacting a day in the life of the servants from the mid 1930s. Follow their footsteps whilst eavesdropping on all the gossip, secrets and goings on for the day.

Throughout the year we explore different aspects of servants life:

  • At the beginning of the year, it's all about cleaning - using that quiet time whilst the family are away to make sure the House is ready for their return. The servants are also welcoming in the first glimpses of spring, as the whole estate becomes alive with activity, thanks in part to the bouncing lambs on the estate.
  • In April we celebrate Lady Theodora's position within the local community as our cooks bake using traditional 1930s WI recipes.
  • During the Summer, servants have many events to get ready for...from Newmarket Races to the Village Dance. There is plenty to keep them occupied. Our 1930s Cooks are making the most of abundance ingredients from the Walled Garden and cooking some seasonal treats for the family.
  • During those colder autumn months it's all about the wider estate as servants must prepare for Shooting parties and help the Foresters with tree planting.
  • And finally, the festive season is upon us and the servants are busy getting the House ready for a spectacular Christmas, with homemade decorations and dreams of that delicious Christmas dinner.
A 1930s servant getting the House festive for Christmas
Living history decorating at Ickworth

We also have a number of Cooks days, where the Living History cooks prepare special seasonal meals. On these days, it’s a chance to chat to them about their work using traditional 1930's tools and methods to cook meals and treats for both the servants and the resident family. Be inspired to learn the methods for yourself by taking part in one of our Cooks workshops which happen several times a year - a chance to learn authentic and traditional ways to cook some delicious treats, with our 1930s Cooks teaching you the way.

Join our Cooks in the Kitchen for an authentic experience
Cooks workshops Ickworth

For dates on our Living History days and to book a Cooks workshop, visit the 'What's on' section of the website.