News and updates from ENCOUNTER

A new research network: Hidden lives: domestic servants in the European country house, c. 1700-1850


“Register Office for the Hiring of Servants”, c.1805 by Thomas Rowlandson

This network, funded by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council, is co-organised by Jon Stobart (Manchester Metropolitan University) and Kristine Dyrmann (Oxford University / Aarhus University). It will bring together heritage professionals and researchers from a range of disciplines and countries to share research on the lives of servants in country houses across Europe: a surprisingly neglected area that has huge potential to inform understanding and presentation of the country house.

The network will be organising four workshops through 2024 and 2025 covering the material culture of servants in the country house; servants’ familial and social networks; the representation of servants in paintings and literature, and the different ways in which servants’ lives are presented to the public at a country houses across Europe.

We will be creating a website for the project which will also host a virtual exhibition to showcase and bring together the research being undertaken by network members. Our aim is to engage the wider public as well as fellow academics and heritage professionals by illustrating servants’ lives through objects, paintings, archival documents, literary texts and extant spaces within country houses.

– In the meantime, please contact Jon: or Kristine: if you would like to learn more about the network and our workshops.