Great house

Great house

:"For the architecture of great houses, see Mansion. For the great house masonry pueblos, see Chaco Culture National Historical Park".

A great house is a large and stately residence; the term encompasses different styles of dwelling in different countries. The name refers to the makeup of the household rather than to any particular architectural style. It particularly refers to large households of times past in Anglophone countries (especially those of the turn of the 20th Century, i. e. the late Victorian or Edwardian ages in the United Kingdom and the Gilded Age in the United States), such as the English country house, the "stately homes of England" and the homes of various "millionaires' row" (or "millionaires' mile") in some U.S. cities such as Newport, Rhode Island with luxurious appointments and great retinues of indoor and outdoor staff. By some reports, the summer homes of the wealthy at Newport averaged four servants per family member. There was often an elaborate hierarchy among staff, domestic workers in particular. In Ireland, the term big house is usual for the houses of the Anglo-Irish ascendancy. []

It was considered declassé to refer to one's own townhouses, estates or villas (or those of friends) as mansions and modern etiquette books still advise that the terms house, big house or great house be used instead.

As in the past, today's great houses are limited to heads of state, the very rich, or those who have inherited them; few in the developed world are staffed at the level of past centuries. The International Guild of Butlers estimates that the annual salaries of a 20-25 person household staff total in excess of US$1,000,000.

In countries with supplies of cheap domestic labour, the middle classes are still able to afford household help, but not approaching the numbers involved in the running of a great house.


On large estates or in families with more than one residence, there may be a steward (or the modern equivalent, an estate manager) who oversees direction of the entire establishment. Today, it is not uncommon for a couple to split the duties of management between them.

Household staff

Practices vary depending on the size of the household and the preference of the employers, but in general the staff is divided into departments run by the:

upport staff

**(Lady's Companion)
*Lady's maid
*Valet (Gentleman's gentleman)

Junior staff

* Footmen
* Between maids (also called Hall girl particularly in the US)
* Hall boy
* Maids
**kitchen maids
**laundry maids
**nursery maid
**scullery maids
**still room maids
* Page
* Seamstress
* Useful Man also called "houseman"

Grounds staff

An Estate Manager may have charge of the maintenance and care of the grounds, landscaping, and outbuildings (pool, cabana, stables, greenhouse etc.) which is divided into departments run by the:

upport staff


Depictions of great houses

The complex hierarchy of a staff in a great house has been portrayed in several notable productions for film and television. Among these are:

*"Backstairs at the White House (miniseries)"
*"The Edwardian Country House"
*"Gosford Park"
*"The Remains of the Day (film)"
*"Servants (BBC television series)"
*"Sense and Sensibility (film)"
*"Upstairs, Downstairs"
*"You Rang, M'Lord?"

Notable great houses

*Buckingham Palace
*Eaton Hall (Cheshire)
*Hatfield House
*Holkham Hall
*Mansion House, London
*Syon House
*White House
*The Breakers
*Marble House
*The Elms
*Hyde Park
*Biltmore Estate
*Westbury House


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