Job advert for ‘Downton Abbey’ housekeeper

Downton Abbey housekeeper Elsie Hughes. Picture: comp
Downton Abbey housekeeper Elsie Hughes. Picture: comp
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IT is a job most people would expect to see in a popular period drama or perhaps an old film – not the local job centre.

But now an opportunity has arisen for a well-paid housekeeper to look after the rich and famous in the Capital – and hundreds of people have already shown an interest.

A rich and mysterious couple from London has advertised for an “absolutely loyal” and “discreet” live out housekeeper.

The housekeeper, paid up to £30,000 a year, would be responsible for the “immaculate presentation” of the central Edinburgh home.

He or she must know how to care for antique furniture and the “many artworks” inside the home, and be able to deal with designer clothing, “and in particular the male wardrobe”.

According to the job advert, which has had more than 200 applicants, the housekeeper will also clean to a “very high standard”, take care of laundry and ironing and keep the home stocked with groceries and fresh flowers.

Alan Fraser, head of Edinburgh-based Investment Property Agency, described it is an “incredibly unique position”.

He said: “I have worked in the industry for 20 years and this has got to be a first for Scotland. They are not looking for your standard cleaner but for someone at the top end of the market, someone with a bit of style about them.

“This is a lot more common in London where there are people with £20 million or £30m townhouses. I would suspect the buyer is not a UK national.”

Kaye Hamilton, Dowager Duchess of Hamilton, said she thought the homeowners would be “high-flyers” but not members of the aristocracy.

She said: “People really in the know wouldn’t put an advert in. They would know where to go to find a good butler or housekeeper. It could be a successful writer or an antique dealer. There are a lot of Russians with money.”

An Edinburgh-based specialist in fine art and antique auctions and valuations would not be drawn into speculation about the homeowners’ identity. But he said the housekeeper would need to know how to hang expensive clothes properly and protect fine fabrics from moths.

He added: “I would expect the housekeeper to know how to polish furniture and have basic knowledge of the right conditions for keeping paintings. They would know hanging pictures above radiators is not the best and not to dust picture frames with cloth dusters. That can catch on the frame and pull bits off. The homeowner is someone with the wherewithal to afford the luxury of someone looking after their art collection and home. They will be very busy and very successful.”

The owners, who would only occupy their Edinburgh home for ten days a month, advertised the job on January 9 through Marshall Harbour, a UK and international housing agency based in London.

Beth Mays, of the firm, declined to reveal anything about the occupant out of respect for their privacy.

But she confirmed that there had already been more than 200 applicants for the job, with a shortlist of five suitable candidates.

The position had been advertised via employment search engine Indeed.com, sparking a flurry of local interest.

Ms Mays said: “I put it on Indeed because I wanted to appeal to a wider demographic. And this approach has certainly come up with some great candidates.

“They [the couple] are looking for someone who has experience in a private household working for a family. It’s like a Downton Abbey-type set-up.

john.connell@edinburghnews.com