Tales From The Pantry: A Butler's Diary

From the pantry of an historic country house comes the ongoing diary of its butler, Mr Dean Fielding. I shall be giving you a glimpse of the family I serve and of the lives both 'Below Stairs' and 'Above'. I hope you follow my jottings daily.

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Location: United Kingdom

Have been butler here for over 15 years. Having previously, and unusually for these days, worked my way up from footman to under-butler to my current post. You can now follow me on Twitter via: http://www.twitter.com/butlerfielding

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

And So They Departed

The tourists came, then the tourists scuttled off.

Things went relatively well actually. They did not stray from the tour. They did not put their shoulders to the Green Baize Door and invade our realm. They were really rather well behaved. They seemed to be a group of baroque experts, so at Carstone they were as happy as pigs rolling around in particularly pleasant muck.

Only once was I spotted. As I processed from the Library to the Billiard Room with a tray of sandwiches for Sir Geoffrey I noticed eyes upon me. The group were clustered in the Hall and they momentarily found me to be of interest. Their interest dissipated when they realised I was not baroque in any shape or form and their focus quickly returned to Sir Geoffrey's Archivist who was busy pointing out a rather intriguing fact about the ceiling.

Such visits from members of the public do make me wonder what would have happened had the Carstone family followed the example of so many other aristocratic families after the Second World War. So many of this sceptred isles' great houses were thrown open to the public with gusto. Lions appeared in the park of one, railways popped up to attract the public in another, the owners, having to make way for the pursit of profit found themselves penned up in a small corner of their ancestral home, like lodgers. The world had changed. Some ancestral homes even had to be destroyed because the cost of maintaining them was simply too great.

Thank goodness Carstone survived. There are no lions for me to dodge if I wish to stroll the park here. There is no railway line cutting through the parterre garden. There are not hordes of tourists pounding the oak floor in the State Dining Room with their boots. Sir Geoffrey and Lady Carstone are not sentenced to live only in the South-East Tower, and the Butler's Pantry contains a working butler, not a wax mannequin of what experts believe a butler once looked like.

Yes, the world has changed; but when I gaze out of my bedroom window, and see Carstone Park stretching past the lake to Llywelyn's Lodge Gates in the far distance, and spot, beneath my window, Sir Geoffrey happily pottering around the garden with a proud Barton beaming at his shoulder, a great feeling of calmness and contentment sweeps over me. I am pleased that Carstone is still a home. Indeed, it is a home to a great many people. It is my home and has been for so many years. This is where I belong.

But the tourists in small quantities are welcome too.

If they don't sneer at the chintz curtains.

And remember to wipe their feet before entering.

And definitely do not poke the butler with a pointy stick.


Blogger UKBob said...

I’m pleased to hear everything went well with the visitors. My first position as a gardener was at Chatsworth House which was open to the public, there were times when it was like working in a gold fish bowl although Chatsworth is a large estate so there was quite a bit of room to accommodate them. The place I work now is not open to the public except on special occasions. I think it is a terrible shame that a lot of these houses have fallen by the wayside, in fact I think the people responsible for this country need stringing up for letting what were national treasures become ruins.

6:24 pm  
Blogger Tea & Margaritas in My Garden said...

Nice to hear that everything went off well with the tour.


5:02 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I discovered your "diary" over at ukbob's place. You seem very devoted to your job as a butler. How nice to hear of someone really liking what they do and doing it well. I'll be back. Take care.

6:03 am  

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