Homes in Mayfair now employ more staff than in Georgian times
Homes in London’s Mayfair now employ more domestic staff than they did in the Georgian era, yet 21st century Mayfair households require very different types of domestic support than their Victorian counterparts and increasingly provide their staff with high quality accommodation and flexible working conditions, report leading Mayfair estate agent Wetherell.
From census figures, sales information and market knowledge, Wetherell have complied new data research that calculates that there are over 4,360 homes in the 285 acres (0.45 square miles) that form Mayfair. The borders of Mayfair are Park Lane, Oxford Street, Regent Street and Piccadilly. Within these borders, Wetherell calculate that four out of five private apartment owners (some 3,100 homes) and nine of out ten house owners (around 350 houses) in Mayfair employ professional and domestic staff.
For a typical large Mayfair apartment, priced from £10-£15 million, Wetherell estimate that at least four domestic staff will be employed to run the apartment. This consists of a maid, part-time chef, part-time driver and a personal assistant (PA). For a typical mid-sized Mayfair house, a double fronted mews property priced from £7.5-£15 million, a total of four domestic staff will be employed, consisting of a maid, part-time chef, part-time driver and PA. For a typical Mayfair mansion, priced from £15-£50 million, there will be anything from six staff (housekeeper, two maids, chef, driver and PA) up to nine staff (housekeeper, driver, gardener, two maids, nanny, butler, personal trainer and bodyguard).
This can be compared with a Grosvenor Estate document from 1790 which shows that at that date Mayfair had just over 1,500 residents of whom only 276 were considered wealthy. Then, there were just 48 domestic servants resident in Mayfair, excluding non-housed suppliers.
Wetherell reveal that now over 70% of residents in Mayfair are now multiple property owners, with a home in Mayfair, another in the countryside and others overseas. Many only live in London during particular seasons or weeks of the year, with high staff requirements whilst they are in residence, with the properties maintained by a skeleton staff when they are away in the country or overseas.
Wetherell highlight that unlike the Georgian era, when the vast majority of staff were “below stairs” and required to do basic manual labour, 21st Century Mayfair households now employ two distinctly different types of staff: professional advisors and domestic staff.
The first type of staff are professional advisors, typically highly educated, qualified and well paid, who are focused on assisting with the lifestyle, investment and health needs of the family/owners. They include the investment/legal advisor, diary/management secretary, property advisor, head of security, professional butler and health/fitness coach. These staff will typically either have their own property or be provided with a separate staff flat and be requested to visit the family/owners as and when required.
Within the largest apartments and houses in Mayfair, the head of security and diary/management secretary will typically have their own offices, and will be required to work full time or part-time at the property whilst the owners/family are in London. Wetherell highlight that often positions can merge into one, so a PA will also provide security, and a butler will double as a chauffeur.
Wetherell stress that whilst the role of staff in Georgian and Victorian times was to be “invisible” and “quiet”, the modern professional advisors are often treated as “members of the family” and expected to give their views on important matters. The second type of staff are Domestic workers, typically lower skilled and on lower incomes. These staff include nanny, maid/cleaners and driver.
Wetherell highlight that during Georgian and Victorian eras domestic staff in Mayfair’s grandest houses were housed in small dormitory style rooms on either the top floor of the houses or above the mews stable block, eating together in the staff kitchen on the lower ground floor.
In the 21st century, domestic staff accommodation in Mayfair has changed beyond all recognition. Wetherell highlight that modernised houses in Mayfair now have between one to three basement floors below ground, providing ample space for staff accommodation. Now three out of five live-in domestic staff will typically have a well appointed private flat or suite, with a kitchenette, living/bedroom suite and an ensuite shower room/bathroom.
In larger houses, the staff quarters will now be either on one of the lower ground levels or above the mews, which are now above the garaging and finished to a high specification.
In addition, Wetherell reveal that many wealthy Mayfair households will spend anything from £500,000 to £750,000 purchasing a small basement or top floor flat in Mayfair as accommodation for their staff. Shepherd Market, on the edge of Mayfair, has become well known locally for its large quantity of staff flats and apartment blocks dedicated to staff accommodation.
Figures from The Work Foundation show that there are now more than 2million domestic workers in the UK, consisting of nannies, butlers, maids, cleaners and gardeners, exceeding the 1.8 million people in domestic service in 1900: of these, 52,000 are full time live-in staff. The UK average is one in ten households employing some form of domestic help, however the figures rise dramatically in central London.
Peter Wetherell, Managing Director of Wetherell comments: “According to the 1790 household survey, less than 20% of residents of Mayfair were wealthy. The figure today is about 70% who have substantial wealth, and the population of Mayfair has trebled. Modern household staff have different roles from the Georgian and Victoria era. Ready meals, labour saving devices such as hoovers and washing machines, and technology such as i-pads means that fewer household staff are required and they are able to spend far less time on manual labour. Instead, the number of professional advisors, who manage diaries, PR, lifestyle, health and security matters has risen. The core 21st century staff have become a more vocal and visible extension of the family/owners. Staff now require either their own separate staff flat or high quality accommodation within the main household. When we are consulted on house refurbishments, we observe that the specification and quality of the staff accommodation is becoming increasingly high with fully fitted kitchens, well appointed bathrooms and spacious living/bedroom suites.”