Ann Gadner’s fascinating book details the a centenary of history of Somerleyton Hall (in Suffolk, England), from when the family first bought the Estate to the childhood of the 3rd Baron. But this is not merely an account of the Lords and Ladies who have lived there: it also provides an insight into the (often colourful) lives of their servants. Many descendants of the Victorian and Edwardian servants still live in Somerleyton village. Their childhood memories provide entertaining and often touching accounts of life below stairs. The Crossley family, who have owned Somerleyton Hall for more than a century, merit a book by themselves. The family made its fortune from carpets and are obviously well-loved and respected by local people to this day. This book is a must for devotees of social history and is deserving of a much wider readership.
I have a special kinship to this book as I went to school with two of the 3rd Baron’s daughters and descendants of the servants and estate workers. I worked for His Lordship for some very happy years, as well attended dinners and functions at the Hall, also performing at recitals.
For me historical nosiness I would have liked more detail, more insight into the purchases and routines of the household, we are so goverened by programmes like Upstairs Downstairs, Downton Abbey, how close are these programmes to the reality of 1800/1900 living.