The Divided Households of Downton Abbey

Friday, January 03, 2014

A signed and framed poster of Downton Abbey awaits auction during 'An Evening With Downton Abbey - Raising Money For Merlin - The Medical Relief Charity' at The Savoy Hotel on July 14, 2011 in London. (Ian Gavan/Getty)

The highly anticipated fourth season of Downton Abbey premiers this weekend. And the servants of Downton Abbey represent the pinnacle of a culture of service, pride and subservience that is centuries old in Britain.

In 1900, domestic service remained the single largest occupation in Britain, with over a quarter of the four million women in the work force acting as servants. In London today, there are just as many domestic servants working as there were during the Victorian era.

Lucy Lethbridge is the author of "Servants: A Downstairs View of Britain from the Nineteenth Century to Modern Times." She argues that the servant/nobility relationship shaped nearly everything in British life—from the style of buildings to the kitchen sink. She joins The Takeaway to discuss whether what we see in Downton Abbey is truly representative of the times and the history of servants in Britain.

Guests:

Lucy Lethbridge

Produced by:

Kristen Meinzer

Editors:

T.J. Raphael

Comments [1]

Robert Berkman from Brooklyn

It should be noted that Jeeves, of Woodehouse's "Wooster & Jeeves" tales, was not a "butler," but a "valet" (the "t" is pronounced, btw.) Bertie's apartment (and lifestyle) did not support the necessity of an actual butler.

Jan. 03 2014 03:48 PM

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