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The Butler – a brief history

Butlers have a long tradition, from ancient and medieval time’s right through to the modern day. In the earliest days of the butler, he was associated with serving alcoholic beverages, and the name ‘butler’ comes from the French, Norman and old English words for ‘bottle-bearer’. Households of days gone by had a butler in charge of the dining room, the pantry, the wine cellar and sometimes the whole floor. The butler was generally in charge of the other servants in the household, like the housekeeper. And where housekeepers were generally female, butlers were generally male. While this remains the norm, female butlers are nowadays sometimes preferred. Buckingham Palace announced in 2004 that it was actively recruiting females for butler positions, and the Charles MacPherson Academy for Butlers and Household Managers has reported that 40% of its students are women. Butlers have featured prominently in fiction, in particular period pieces and whodunits.

For a long time butlers have been considered a luxury. But these days, time is a luxury and butlers and other private domestic household staff help to give some of it back. 21st century life demands so much of our time, because the advanced, switched-on world we live in is a very different place to what it used to be. Therefore many jobs nowadays are all-consuming. People are much more career-driven, which means increasingly they need help at home, tending to their children, their dinners, their gardens and other chores they simply don’t have time to do.

Hiring butlers, housekeepers, nannies, chefs, chauffeurs and gardeners can help. Domestic household staffing agencies specialise in recruiting private household staff that are professional, experienced and the best at what they do. It may be a butler to help bring some order back to a home, a governess or nanny for the children, a housekeeper for an overseas villa or a chef for a private yacht. Whatever the need, these agencies can help fulfil them.

The business of people

Being in the business of people means household staffing agencies are uniquely placed for looking after, understanding, respecting and empathising with the needs of people. All candidates for the positions of butler, chauffeur, housekeeper, nanny, gardener and all other household staffing roles have to go through a full vetting process. Suitability, discretion, professionalism and honesty are inordinately important when selecting and placing a candidate, and agencies have to ensure that everyone placed has the right attitude and is an expert in what they do.