The Servants' Quarters
Explore the Historic Kitchens in the Servants' Quarters and see where the servants would have worked. In 1829 alone these kitchens served nearly 30,000 guests.
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 and these bedrooms are above the kitchens and domestic service rooms, used as the National Trust offices today.
By 1834 there were around 135 servants working at Petworth House in one form or another.
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 fireplace leaving 300 years of cooking style in one room.
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.
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.
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