Below stairs secrets of gothic gem revealed
For hundreds of years, legions of servants toiled from dawn until dusk keeping the cavernous mansions of the upper classes ticking-over.
From the lowly scullery maid to the trusty butler, the rhythm of their lives were dictated by the social strictures of the era and the desires of their masters.
Now as part of a new television series, the "below stairs" secrets and antics at Peregrine Hall, near Lostwithiel, Cornwall, are to be revealed in a documentary.
Described as the finest example of gothic-style architecture in the county, presenter and social historian Dr Pamela Cox is to uncover the lives of its former occupants.
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As part of a three-part series entitled One of the Servants – The True story of Life Below Stairs the historic house will feature in the programme on October 5 on BBC Two.
Built in 1864 the building was originally known as St Faith's House of Mercy and was used to lock away girls and ladies who had strayed from the paths of virtue or who were unmanageable at home.
Anglican Sisters of Mercy from the Community of St Mary the Virgin, Wantage, ran the house putting the girls to work running a laundry servicing the local estate of nearby Lanhydrock House at Bodmin.
Cornish women and girls and others from across the Tamar were admitted to the refuge as residents including orphaned females.
Dr Cox, herself the great-granddaughter of servants, explores the reality of servants' lives from the Victorian era through to the Second World War.
Visiting the homes of both the super-rich and the middle-classes, Dr Cox will dig through the archives and find servants' lost voices in order to understand how they lived and worked. She reveals a complex world of suppressed passions, strict hierarchies and an obsession with status and class.
The house, with superb views over the Fowey Valley, Lostwithiel and Restormel Castle, is currently up for sale and is on the market with a price of £1,425,000.
Paul Collins, surveyor at Miller Commercial, who are handling the sale, said the hall is set in six acres of gardens, has six bedrooms and seven self-catering cottages. It belongs to Derek and Diane Gwilliams.