Staff Party, c.1920-1930, in the Great Dining Room at Chatsworth
This monthly blog post will keep you up-to-date on a project exploring the changing relationship between servants/staff and masters/employers at Chatsworth between 1700 and 1950,looking at the extensive archival materials in the Devonshire Collection. In partnership with the University of Sheffield, ‘From Servants to Staff’ comprises three interconnected PhD projects. Through this research we will better understand this part of the house’s history and assist Chatsworth in telling the stories of servants, staff and life below stairs.
Community, Conflict and Change at Chatsworth, 1700-1820
My name is Hannah Wallace and I am researching Chatsworth during theeighteenthcentury. During my Masters at the University of Sheffield I undertook a project at Chatsworth to begin research into the servants of the Dukes of Devonshire, and I am excited by the opportunity to continue this work at PhD level.
Society saw many changes over the course of the eighteenthcentury. The country house was no longer the place where the community gathered in the great hall to feast, instead it was becoming a place of privacy and family, and the building works at Chatsworth reflected this. I am interested in researching the effect this change had on servants, as service became a profession controlled by a contract rather than a duty performed to the local landowner.
Chatsworth staff, c.1850s
A Community of Masters and Servants? Chatsworth, 1811-1914
My name is Lauren Butler and I am researching the servants at Chatsworth during the nineteenth century. I completed my BA in History at the University of Leicester with a year at the Université de Strasbourg, and returned to Leicester to do my MA in Museum Studies. I have always been interested in country houses from a historical perspective and some of my Victorian ancestors were domestic servants in Derbyshire, so I feel a personal connection to this research.
The nineteenthcentury at Chatsworth saw the building of the North Wing, the relocation of the village of Edensor and extensive alterations to the gardens under the 6th Duke of Devonshire and Joseph Paxton. This era also saw a revolution in employment relations across the UK and the British Empire, as numerous Master and Servant Acts brought about a new understanding of work. My research will attempt to position Chatsworth within a national context, demonstrating how the community was affected by this atmosphere of change.
The Making of a Modern Estate: Employment & Service at Chatsworth in the 20th Century

My name is Fiona Clapperton, and I am undertaking the third component of this project. I have always been interested in the ways in which academic research is presented to the public. This is a process which I examined in both my BA and Masters’ dissertations, which I undertook at the University of East Anglia and the University of Cambridge respectively. I was immediately excited when I read about the ‘From Servants to Staff’ project. My previous academic research had focused on working class history of the twentieth century, I had even analysed the recently opened Heritage Lottery Fund Living History project at Ickworth House, Suffolk, which recreated life below stairs during the 1930s. This PhD project perfectly combines my academic interests! In particular, I am keen to explore the turbulent events of the first half of the twentieth-century, and uncover the impact that these had on the Chatsworth Estate and those who worked there. I will focus especially on technological advances, the two world wars, and shifts in social hierarchies.

From left to right: Fiona Clapperton, Lauren Butler, Hannah Wallace
The Chatsworth archives are full of insights into many fascinating people and events, and we look forward to sharing our most interesting finds on this blog.


Lauren Butler, Fiona Clapperton and Hannah Wallace
Chatsworth and The University of Sheffield ‘From Servants to Staff’ project

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