A servant's life at Petworth

The historic kitchens at Petworth House

Take a peep behind the doors into the historic kitchens and see where the servants would have worked. In 1829 alone these kitchens served nearly 30,000 guests.

Servants’ quarters

Built in the mid-18th century, the servants' quarters are little changed since Victorian times. The building would once have accommodated around 40 live-in servants, who were needed to support the vast estate.
 

The Kitchen

The 19th century Petworth kitchen was comparable in scale to that of a major hotel, producing on average 100 meals a day. After a fire in 1872, the kitchen was refitted with the latest steam powered technology, but retained the traditional roasting range in front of the great replace leaving 300 years of cooking style in one room.

 

The Winter Dairy

Built as part of an extension in 1891 along with the meat larder, these rooms are partly underground making them exceptionally cool, ideal for storing food like cheese, butter and cream. Cold slate surfaces meant desserts such as ice cream and jelly could also be stored here.

Copper moulds in the Historic Kitchens of Petworth House

Larder

Prior to the extension at the north end of the servants’ quarters this was the main larder but then became a general food preparation and storage area. Two large troughs under the windows were used for salting whole sides of pork and ham. In the larder you can also see the ice-box, an early refrigerator. Large blocks of ice were placed on one side and pies, cold cooked meats, fish and cheese were placed on the other. A constant supply of ice was provided from the ice-house outside. You’ll also see on display a remarkable collection of pewter and tin ice-cream moulds used at Petworth to make fashionable Victorian desserts.

Chef's sitting room

The chef was expected to employ their own kitchenmaids, charwomen and scullery men so this room would have been used as an office. Deliveries would be checked in the weighing room outside the office before being stored in the larder, but any expensive items could be locked in the chef’s sitting room.

Scullery

This room is dominated by the 19th century low-pressure twin- flue steam boiler that produced steam to power the equipment in the kitchen and to heat water. The scullery was used for the washing and preparing of vegetables. The copper pans you see on display were also cleaned here using a mixture of salt, sand, vinegar and hot water.

Part of our 1,000-piece batterie de cuisine of copper pots and pans
Copper Pans at Petworth

Still room

It was here that all the bottling, preserving and storing of jams, marmalades and pickles was done under the eye of the housekeeper. The still room maids used this room to make tea, coffee, soft drinks and fruit juices as well as more exotic preparations like prunes bottled in gin and strawberries in champagne. It was here that the maids prepared the early morning tea trays for family and guests complete with toast or scone presented with nosegays from the garden. Today we also use this room as a meeting point for any tours.

Pastry room

Away from the heat of the main kitchen, this room provided ideal working conditions for the making of pies, biscuits, cakes and pastries. A large high window provided good light for the main working area. In the lobby outside is the pastry oven that would have been heated by bundles of lit twigs. Careful judgement requiring great skill and experience was needed to be a pastry chef to ensure everything was cooked perfectly. The pastry oven went out of use following the introduction of electric ovens in the main kitchen.

Secrets of the servants

Wander the rooms and find out about the various staff like footmen, kitchen staff, estate staff, chefs, house Stewards, housekeepers, under maids and housemaids that were employed at Petworth