Our architect tells us that the house’s main staircase is quite unusual and that he has never seen such a layout. The stairs are situated on the outer wall of the house and are lit by six large leadlight windows, three on each flight. Usually the stairs would be situated on the inner wall adjoining the neighbouring (semi-detached) house. The Edwardians designed houses to let in as much light and air as possible.
The three windows on the upper flight of stairs. A cabinet maker who was preparing a kitchen quote for us told me that the banisters and newel caps are made of Cuban Mahogany (unfortunately harvested to the point of complete depletion a century ago). The newel posts may also be made of this wood but we will need to strip the paint to find out. The cabinet maker said that these would have been supplied by a specialist and that they would have been French polished … we will probably have to get an expert in to restore them properly.
The house also has a concealed servant’s staircase, which leads from the breakfast room (originally the kitchen) to the rear landing and servants’ bedroom. The inside of the door still has the original wood-grain paint effect designed to mimic a more expensive wood. I think the carpet may be original too.
From the rear landing there is a door to the main first floor hallway so that the servants didn’t use the main stairs when tending to the family’s needs. Ruby was the first to make the link between the two staircases. I once shut the door into the breakfast room with her on the servant’s side. She knew to go up the servant staircase, along the first floor hall and then down the main staircase to get back to me. She’s a clever girl.