"Upstairs Downstairs" divide replaced by the House Manager
Long gone are the delineating "Upstairs Downstairs" roles in the typical UK private household.
Think not so much "Downton Abbey" as managing the lives of the international and elite globe-trotting UK jet-set.
House Managers are the new “below stairs” staff. More integrated into day-to-day family life, the House Manager is responsible for looking after the every need of globe-trotting families. Michelin star Chef’s responsible for cooking up 5-star meals or beans on toast while the tutors are responsible for making sure 4-year-olds get the best academic start in life.
Back in the 1911 census, 1.5 million people recorded working in domestic jobs in the UK. Elite households back then were run by a small army of domestic staff, much like a small hotel. The middle classes the biggest employer of the domestic workforce, with many moderate sized homes employing one or two domestic servants.
Fast forward 100 years and by 2016 that 1.5 million had taken a huge knock, with only 97,000 individuals working in private households.
By this time the landscape of domestic duties had changed enormously.
The post war period saw huge social change with people of all classes huddled together in air raid shelters, women taking up the war effort working in skilled jobs in factories, munitions and code-breaking. Added to that continued social change and advancement in technology and travel. The face of domestic service changed for good.
The role of domestic is a well respected and well paid career choice.
Domestic roles of today are well paid careers and attract highly skilled, experienced and resilient professionals. The rise in travel and tech and the complexities of running one or more households - across continents - is extremely varied, demanding and time consuming, so appeals to post-grads or those with experience from a complimentary sector. Looking after the lives of the globe-trotting elite is certainly a full time job.
When the Lady Magazine first started in 1885, house manager job advertisements didn’t exist. They spent 130 years running ads for household staff including butler, housemaids, bodyguards and housekeeper.
The role of House Manager is about running the house and other staff when necessary, so is pretty fluid. Depending on the household and employer.
In a larger household they might run a large team but in smaller households, the house manager might have to set up complex excel spreadsheets on one hand and be chief bottle washer with the other (figuratively speaking!)– the ideal House Manager adept at both.
Often the House Manager not only looks after the family and the house but also has a role running the business of the house. For example; at Highclere Castle, the House Manager works closely with Lady Canarvon running the business of the estate.
How much does a House Manager earn?
The range is really varied, just as the role is, but a House Manager could expect to earn between £35,000 and £120,000. I know, massive range right? Just shows how varied the roles can be. Salary will depend on the number of properties, travel, number of tasks etc. Many roles require degree status, fluency in different languages, nutritional expertise, experience in hospitality and lots of executive work etc etc.
As House Manager you are the go-to!
If any departments have a problem, it’s up to you to sort. Whether it's a member of staff or your employer.
As Private PA or House Manager you will need to be extremely flexible and robust. Ready to be called upon at any time, to hop on a plane to go anywhere! Willing to make sure everything is ready and in place on arrival, communicate with staff on the ground, manage staff, delegate, take full responsibility and be absolutely trustworthy.
Good chemistry, and respect, between staff and employer is key. House Managers often work long hours and by the very nature of the role, you're working (and often living) in someone's home, so you need to get along with the owner and his/her family.
Navigating the boundaries between personal and commercial life can be tricky. Privacy and confidentiality are parmount and the international, complex lives of the wealthy can be tricky for the modern house manager to successfully negotiate.
Household Staff Jobs
To search the latest Household staff positions such as house manager, housekeeper, cook, beautician, butler, maternity nurse, horsekeeper, AV/IT Specialist and many more, simply click Household Staff.
For links to training courses for hospitality, silver service, sommelier, fitness instructor, culinary and specialist culinary simply click Specialist Training.
Or if you're looking for a job onboard some of the most beautiful motor yachts and super yachts worldwide simply click Yachting Staff. Current listings include; Captain, Deckhand, Chef, 2nd Engineer, Sous Chef, Stew/Masseur/euse, Housekeeping Stewardess etc.