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Goodwood House’s head butler David Edney talks time travel, period dramas and Buckingham Palace.
The recent popularity of shows such as Downton Abbey, Upstairs Downstairs and Julian Fellowes’ latest creation
Titanic has brought butlers back into the public imagination. After all, who wouldn’t want the ever-faithful Carson to greet them every morning?
At Goodwood House, instead of Carson, it’s butler David Edney who’ll be serving you, and he is happy with the comparison – he never misses an episode of Downton and wouldn’t mind living back in the 1910s.
‘I love the historical aspect of this job,’ he says. ‘If I could go back in time, I would. It’s a shame I can’t arrive in a horse and carriage every morning.’
Edney has been at Goodwood for 15 years, and hasn’t lost any of the enthusiasm for his role. ‘I still get butterflies when I come into work – particularly for weddings, when I see the car pull up and the bride get out,’ he says.
‘For me, this isn’t just a job, it’s a passion. I love the theatre of it. I always say that no matter where you are, if you’re on the floor there is somebody watching you. How the staff act and dress is all part of the guest’s experience. I want guests to look back on their time here and think, wow.’
Edney oversees all the events at Goodwood and is very hands-on with everything from training the staff to polishing the silver. During the Festival of Speed (28 June-1 July), the house hosts a dinner for 1,500 people and Edney is at the helm, making sure it runs smoothly and meets expectations. ‘No matter what size the event is, I treat everyone like royalty,’ he says.
No one is better placed to do so than Edney, who spent five days working at Buckingham Palace last year. ‘I couldn’t believe it when the opportunity arose,’ he says. ‘It was amazing. Every minute was breathtaking, but it went too fast.’
This article was first published in Square Meal Venues & Events magazine, spring 2012.