The Servants' Quarters at Uppark

Contrasting with the grandeur and elegance of the first floor rooms are the servants' quarters in the basement below. At Uppark, these rooms are particularly impressive, and offer a glimpse of a life spent 'below stairs.'

Although the purpose of some rooms may have changed over the last 300 years, today they are presented as they would have been in the late 19th century, following the discovery of an inventory of their contents from 1874.

The Still Room was originally the kitchen until it was moved to the east pavilion in 1815.
The Kitchen in the Basement at Uppark, West Sussex
The Still Room was originally the kitchen until it was moved to the east pavilion in 1815.

The Still Room

This was originally the kitchen until 1815 when it was moved to the east pavilion, now the café. Here, cakes and preserves were made, and the final touches added to the family's meals before being taken up to the Servery above. In 1895, it was converted back into a kitchen by Colonel Turnour-Fetherstonhaugh, and the impressive New Gold Medal Eagle Range installed.

The New Gold Medal Eagle range was added in 1895 when the Still Room reverted to a kitchen.
The New Gold Medal Eagle range with copper pans and utensils in the Kitchen at Uppark, West Sussex
The New Gold Medal Eagle range was added in 1895 when the Still Room reverted to a kitchen.

The Scullery

Cutlery, crockery and glassware were washed and dried here in racks, although the late-18th century oven suggests it may have had other uses, too.

The Butler's Pantry

The head of the male servants, the butler's role carried with it the greatest responsibilities - waiting on the family and their guests, looking after the family silver (kept in the adjoining safe), servicing the lamps (in the adjacent lamp room), keeping accounts, etc. While he may have slept here, the fold-down bed is more likely to have been used by a night footman. The gauge above the fireplace was used to record the water level in the roof tanks.

The Butler's Pantry, laid out for a variety of duties.
The Butler's Pantry at Uppark, West Sussex
The Butler's Pantry, laid out for a variety of duties.

The Housekeeper's Room

The housekeeper was responsible for the running of the household, and would have directed the female servants in their duties of fire-laying, making beds, cleaning and so on. She also regulated the household expenses and ordered general supplies when necessary. The senior servants would have gathered here for tea in front of the fire, while the cupboards contained linen for both the servants' and the upstairs rooms.

The Housekeeper's Room, laid out as it was when H. G. Wells' mother, Sarah, worked here.
The Housekeeper's Room with an armchair beside the fireplace at Uppark, West Sussex
The Housekeeper's Room, laid out as it was when H. G. Wells' mother, Sarah, worked here.

The Bell Passage

Installed around 1800, the bells were used to summon servants via a series of bell-pulls operated from the upstairs rooms. Once a bell had rung, the pendulum beneath it would continue to swing so that the source could be established. Their location seems rather inconvenient, and perhaps to remedy this an indicator board was later added nearby with flaps that dropped down to expose the appropriate room label.

The Beer and Wine Cellars

The columns and vaulted ceiling suggest the cellar is original to the house of 1690, and were required to support the weight of the marble floor of what was once the Great Hall above. Beer brewed in the separate brew-house would enter here via a long pipe before being directed into a series of casks - 30 were recorded in the 1874 inventory, along with 1,190 gallons of ale. Wine, champagne and liqueurs would have been stored in brick bins in the adjacent wine cellar.

The Beer Cellar's vaulted ceiling was strong enough to support the marble floor of the old Great Hall above.
The Beer Cellar at Uppark, West Sussex
The Beer Cellar's vaulted ceiling was strong enough to support the marble floor of the old Great Hall above.

The Steward's Hall

This is where the butler, housekeeper and senior servants would have eaten their meals together. The 1874 inventory suggests it was well furnished, with mahogany chairs and tables, sofa and armchairs, and several oil paintings. Today, it is used as an exhibition room for the 18th century dolls' house.

The Servants' Hall

Sparsely furnished, the junior servants would have eaten here. Seated in strict order of precedence, the more junior members would have suffered the draughts near the door, although the fire may have offered some consolation.

The Courtyard

Repton's addition of the north portico in 1812-13 left this as a courtyard, through which runs the corridor that links the house to the new entrance. The southern wall is effectively the front of the original house, while also visible are the remains of a lean-to, thought to have been the old knife-house where blades were sharpened, and the high-mounted bell that signalled mealtimes.

The Tunnels

These subterranean passages would have allowed the servants to pass between the house and the service blocks without being seen. Between 1815 and 1895, food prepared in the kitchen would have been wheeled through on trolleys on its way to the servery. The ladders stored against the wall were originally used to work on the exterior of the house, and are long enough to reach the top windows.

The tunnels allow servants access to the house from the service blocks.
The tunnels at Uppark House and Garden, West Sussex
The tunnels allow servants access to the house from the service blocks.