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Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff

3.74  ·  Rating details ·  435 ratings  ·  74 reviews
The household staff of Downton Abbey carries out their duties with effortless dignity, finesse and pride. Yet how do they know how exactly to lay the table, when to leave the room to give Lord and Lady Grantham their privacy, how to care for Lady Mary's furs and which uniform to wear when? This recently recovered and fascinating staff handbook answers all of these ...more
ebook, 128 pages
Published November 25th 2014 by St. Martin's Griffin (first published January 1st 2014)
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Michelle Elizabeth It is cataloged as non-fiction 791.4572 for , among other things, Home Economics -- Handbooks and Manuals.
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Average rating 3.74  · 
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Wart Hill
Oct 29, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: netgalley, arc2014
I would make a bad servant...

You can find this and other reviews at Things I Find While Shelving

I received a free ARC via NetGalley

Yes. THAT Mr. Carson :P

This was kind of fun. It's a good, quick reference if you need to do some hasty research on the roles of servants (Hint: THEY DID FUCKING EVERYTHING HOLY SHITBALLS). It's also got an extra layer of fun if you're a Downton fan because a) it's compiled by Carson (the bulter) and b) you sit there reading and think "Gee, someone should whap Thomas
If you, like me, are a Downton Abbey fan and you’re waiting for the first episode of the show’s last season like a kid awaits Santa on Christmas, this book is a must read for you.

Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff is a short and little in appearance house manual, but for fans of the show it is a wonderful voyage to the downstairs Downtonian world. Being that is was written by Mr. Carson himself, it is impossible not to feel like you can hear him reading the book to you as you read.

Sep 17, 2014 rated it really liked it
Mr. Carson's guide to the efficient running of a household. Some is specific to Downton Abbey, including a little new background for Mr. Carson, but the majority comprises the rules which allow a house to be kept in good order, and to explain the roles and routine for each position. It's relatively short but very informative, not just about the household but also giving insight into the social customs and mores of the era as well as the incredible organisational skills needed by the butler, ...more
Rebecca Huston
Nov 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This one is a charming look at how everything gets done at Downton. For those interested in how the servant class lived, and worked, this makes a fine introduction. However, there really isn't a lot of details given, but it does give an idea of the mental fortitude needed to be a servant, where one was expected to pretty much an animated statue. Given all of the various books and memoirs that have been published in the wake of Downton Abbey's popularity, it does make a nice introduction to the ...more
Arya *Bibliomaniac!* Fraser Stark
Quite the good inside look at how things were run back then. I do think I shall go back and binge on every single episode of every single season, and watch just to see the details of the rules they have and use.

Though it still lacked explanation of why they iron the newspaper....Really. But then again, the woman must change their clothes at least 6 times a day for certain times of the day, like lunch, tea, or outings, dinner, if guests are coming. All the rules with the gloves, the hats,
This was cute, the book is a manual for the jobs performed by the various servants at the Abbey. The lists of what each position cares for and how to accomplish it are what the actual servants of the era did for those in the Edwardian Manor houses. However, this manual is written as if Mrs. Hughes and Mr. Carson are instructing the new hires. I think it was a great way to look at a part of British country life that is long gone. I recommend it for the fans of the series or anyone who is ...more
Aug 16, 2019 rated it liked it
This is a fun read for fans of the show, written by Carson.

Read all my reviews on

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

I'm a big fan of the series, so when I saw this book come up on Netgalley I was simply delighted. Even more so, as this book focuses mostly on the running of the house and the different tasks for different members of staff.

I've always been a bit amazed by large houses like the one in Downton Abbey, and
Jill Tool
Jul 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: finished-reading
For fans of Downtown Abbey, here's a fun little book told from Carson, the head butler,that explains how the servants rank, how each are to do their jobs, what is expected when getting rooms, dinner, and the proper attire for when a party, distinguish guest, royalty, or visitors are coming to Downtown.

It gives you a glimpse into a servants life and duties while running the house. You're able to read this book in a day, while getting your Downtown fix while your waiting for the next season to
Brenda Osborne
Dec 26, 2014 rated it really liked it
Wow! This was a very interesting little book. Find out how to carry your knees if you are a female servant. Learn how to strop a razor, how to clean brown boot tops, how to detect a damp bed and the correct way to iron your master's newspaper. An interesting little book of a time gone by and likely never to return!
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
A thoroughly-researched and historically-accurate How-To Guide presented to the reader fictionally as a guide written by Mister Carson himself to someone being employed to work for the Crawleys at Downton Abbey.

Definitely written for fans of the show, though that isn't to say the advice within isn't useful for cleaning and managing one's own house.

My edition was given as a gift and I've found it both enjoyable, useful when I was trying to get wine stains out of linens, and infallible when
Linda M.
Nov 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
After watching the Downton Abbey movie, my husband & I have become fascinated with anything about the movie & series. It was not easy being a servant for the family. I never realized how much a servant had to know before serving the manor family, especially the butler, valet, cook, & ladies maid. This is a must read for Downton Abbey fans.
Jan 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this as a reference to what guides of the period would be like, and the Downton Abbey references were cute. I found the rules more interesting than the recipes, since the measurements and many of the ingredients don't really exist today. I'm very pleased at the inclusion of bibliographical references so that I can explore further! Fun, quick read.
Michelle Elizabeth
I know my 5 stars seems excessive but I love everything about this book. Even the size and look of the tiny hardcover reminds me of Downton Abbey and how they would always have tiny hardcover books to read.
Sep 15, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Purportedly written by Mr. Carson, Butler on the Downton Abbey estate, it's a fun look at some of the duties different characters would have been expected to perform. It's also an interesting guide to learning how large estates ran in the early 1900's England.
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting read. My curiosity is piqued and I wonder what of these methods still work and/or were regularly employed at the turn of the century.
Barbara Houge
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Great companion book!
Mar 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2018, nonfiction
This is a neat book. I liked seeing al the tasks one had to do.
Donna Parker
Nov 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Our society has too many corners full of dust, hair, and dirt. How can we clean it up or stop them going there in the first place when even those who make the rules don’t follow the rules, or make rules just to profit and gain power?
On a day when the only Big Bounce we should have been paying attention to was the landing of the Philae on Comet 67p hurtling through space, instead, we focused on celebrity fakeness and what shirt a scientist was wearing. A 10 year mission to find the possible
Elspeth G. Perkin
A convincing little book

This modest book may be well sought after by Downton Abbey fans but it should be noted that it can also serve as an inviting small collection of trivia for any armchair historian of magnetic bygone eras. I will readily admit I fall into that second shining class ever since I held my English grandmother’s well-thumbed passed down copy of Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management at an impressionable age and that interest only grew as I later wandered the elementary
Feb 18, 2015 rated it liked it
3.0 out of 5 stars -- A guide for service at Downton Abbey that gives details about the various positions in the household and highlights their job duties. In addition, a hierarchy of staff and an order of preference among the ladies and gentleman is included.

This is an interesting companion book that gives background to both the television series and a recent Masterpiece theater DVD release (THE MANNERS OF DOWNTON ABBEY) that features Alastair Bruce, the historical adviser to Downton Abbey.
Nov 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Charles Carson

Publication Date
November 25, 2014

A guidebook for staff of Downton Abbey cover topics such as appearance, posture and social norms.

High Points
I like that this was written as if Carson was compiling a book of pointers for the Downton staff. There are some intriguing little bits of social expectations for both staff and the ladies and gentlemen of the house. This is a nice little companion piece for die-hard fans of Downton Abbey.

Low Points
I would have loved to have
Sally Hannoush
Sep 19, 2014 rated it really liked it
You don't have to be a Downton Abbey fan to enjoy the rules and handbook of servitude. I enjoyed the different point of view that being in service is a "noble" feeling. The whole idea of the staff making the masters. The hygienic requirements were very unexpected but I liked reading them. The rules for being a good/perfect servant are something most people would not be able to conquer with so many restrictions. I love reading Historical Romances so this behind the scenes peak really gets me ...more
Sep 27, 2014 rated it liked it
Interesting book, but a bit of an obvious attempt to cash in on Downton Abbey's success. This is less of a companion for the series and more of a short guide on how a big house was run back in the 1920s. I would have appreciated more snippets like the one in the beginning, in which Carson mentions how he came to Downton for the first time as a second footman. As it is, the "guide" is certainly very in-character, but some sections are not very interesting for the modern reader. For example, I ...more
Maryline M's Bookshelf
Apr 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing
What a fun little book to have on your shelf! As the "blurb" above says it all, there's not more I can add than a few pictures to win you over. This is, obviously, not a traditional read so I won't be reviewing it as such. I love having this book, I'm glad I bought it and I catch myself using it as my little encyclopedia whenever I'm (re)watching Downton episodes.
If you haven't seen the show yet - seriously, what are you waiting for? This is thé best show ever - but you are interested in the
Sep 24, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: arc, non-fiction
A charming peek into the day-to-day roles and traditions of Downton Abbey servants. Written from the point of view of Carson, Downton’s butler, the book gives details on a variety of tasks that would have been vital in running the estate smoothly. These include the still-useful (napkin folding; the quietest way to open a door), the semi-useful (the correct way to store silver; how to preserve truffles), and the likely-not-useful-at-all-but-still-interesting (tips on managing a wine cellar for an ...more
Steph Furlan
Apr 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
I’m a huge fan of the show Downton Abbey. My mother and I can’t get enough of it. We adore the storylines and the characters (even malicious Thomas Barrow!). When I stumbled upon Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff on NetGalley, I was intrigued to read it.

It’s a tiny instructional book on how to properly serve in a well-established home during the 1800s and early 1900s. It starts off with a foreword from the fictional butler of Downton Abbey, Mr. Carson. The book seems to mirror his voice
Feb 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biographies
Very, very interesting of all the work that the household staff had to do and how to do each task. Made me tired reading it!!!!
2.5 stars

There's nothing actually wrong with the book -- it reads like a real book of rules for men and women in service. I'm frustrated, though, because if it wears the name Downton Abbey it should be more than just a rule book. I wanted more of Carson's wit and Mrs. Hughes's wisdom. I wanted more Downton Abbey-specific rules and more tidbits about the family. Nothing gossipy (Carson would have a coronary), just everyday things like who prefers apple juice in the morning instead of coffee, or
As an avid Downton Abbey fan, I was excited to receive an ARC of Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff; however, my joy soon turned to boredom. I have read many similar "upstairs/downstairs" non-fiction titles and found many of them quite enjoyable. This book was too literal without any life. It read strictly like a manual. Now I know that the title clearly states it is a rulebook for household staff, but many readers are not in training to become an English servant of a large household.

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