The Servant Situation

Apr 11, 2001
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Looking into that always fascinating topic of servants (no doubt so intriguing because most of us will never have any!) I came upon one of the most comprehensive sites on the topic I could hope to find. It details the late Victorian through WWI period, when servanthood was in flower, and features many charming photographs of various household domestics. I particularly enjoyed Mrs. Gould with her lady's maid, circa 1908. I also learned the second footman was invariably called James or John, even though he might be otherwise christened. Mrs. Astor caused quite a Newport stir when she put her footmen in livery, then to be aped by Mrs. Vanderbilt. Also amusing was the custom of taller footmen receiving higher wages than their shorter brethern, and French ladies'maids being the preferred nationality due to their fashion sense and sewing ability. The Allison's Alice Cleaver, as nursery maid, would have been higher up on the female staff pecking order, just under lady's maid and housekeeper, the last who only answered to the butler! Amazing site- and to think, I felt grateful to receive a paper napkin with my tea this morning at Dunking Donuts- it's enough to make one yearn for gentler times. Don't miss this -http://www.geocities.com/victorianlace26/DomesticServants.html
 

Lee Gilliland

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Feb 14, 2003
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Fascinating site, thank you Shelley. Have you any books besides Mrs. Beeton's to recommend on the servant situation?
 
Apr 11, 2001
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A Butler's Life, Scenes from the other side of the Silver Salver, by Chris Allen, Behind the Scenes by Christina Hardyment, and recently a friend sent me the book from the PBS hit series Manor House which is fabulous and available on the pbs site along with the videos. For more on servant's clothing go to http://www.costumes.org/history/100pages/1900servants.htm Ellen's site on Edwardiana is also good at http://www.likesbooks.com/servants.html although I may have to disagree with her assessment that the Master's valet outranks the butler in the male servant pecking order. The thread on Gilded Age Goes to the Movies has some great film offerings-Darlington Hall with Chris Reeves and Gosford Park- although a little later in history than Edwardiana, gives a great Upstairs Downstairs ambience, and is "spot on". Upstairs Downstairs books -and there are many, are also excellent. For some "snob appeal" fun- take the Snob Quiz- I scored only 89% Snob- thank goodness- and am so relieved not to have made the real Upper Crust Snob Award! http://www.channel4.com/history/microsites/C/countryhouse/quiz/index.html
 
Dec 2, 2000
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I scored 35% snob. To quote the site; "Nice one, Michael. At only 35% snob, you're a happy-go-lucky social chemeleon, comfortable in any echelon. Even though you enjoy the odd swipe at the neighbor's taste in wives, you're still a well rounded human being who'd never dream of judging his fellow man on the colour of his shoes."
 
Jan 28, 2003
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I only managed 57% and, for a Brit, I accept that this simply isn't good enough. Must try harder, as indeed the site told me. Suggested I go out to buy some fruit knives and start lying about my education....
 
May 1, 2004
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70%! "It's allright, Jonathan, being 70% snob gives you some hope of becoming a decent human being in the near future. Just keep working on that attitude: don't forget that the sick, the poor, and the uneducated are people too. What's more, at the next turn of the Karmic wheel, they're going to live like kings while you clean the poo from their shoes."

^
happy.gif
 

Inger Sheil

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Dec 3, 2000
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Lol! Not even going to disclose my score! There's nothing wrong with saying 'cheers' before partaking of a drink - my 2 year old nephew now does it in imitation of me (should have seen his father's eyebrows shoot up when Lachlan insisted on clinking glasses and burbling 'cheers!' as he hoisted up his juice). And I do like good food. And not voting in pop idol. But at least I've never judged anyone by their shoes, and don't care what others think...
 
Jan 28, 2003
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I've just wasted 20 minutes trying to get 100% and I simply can't figure out what the appropriate answers are. I don't know whether snobs buy quilted toilet paper or not. I'd have thought not ... dunno, I always buy recycled. This is ridiculous, must pull myself together.
ps Tracy - which way were you surprised, do tell...
 
Mar 28, 2002
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I got 54% which surprised the hell out of me. I was told that I would soon have 2.4 kids, a Volvo and a Labrador and although I was a long way off from joining the champagne-swigging, double-barrelled name world I was no champion of the Proliteriat either! You wouldn't have thought that had you seen me walking around BTS 2003 Gala Evening with toothpaste all down my dark blue shirt. It wasn't until I got back to my room last thing at night and looked in the mirror that I realised what an absolute gyppo I had become....
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Oh dear,dear,dear. Letting the side down again....as a Brit you should do better, like me. Three % points above you! A 4 x 4 won't cut the mustard, not in the real world of the aristocracy. Not that I know much about it ... it's all rather mystifying, isn't it? Actually, my great great Uncle was a Lord -wrong side of the blanket, I'm afraid, or at any rate his lady-friend.... doh!
 

Jack Devine

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Jan 23, 2004
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Not sure whether to be proud or ashamed of my 80% score. They tell me that I am to snobs what Fergie is to the Royals (!) If I ever hope to improve, I suppose I'd better start looking down on others and paying more attention to shoes. Now if I can only find a valet who's willing to work for three dollars a week, and won't steal the leftover pizza.....
 

Inger Sheil

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The problem with some of those questions is that there's no option three...for example, on the Camilla Parker-Bowles question, I would have gone for (C) Don't Give a Toss if given the chance.
 
Apr 11, 2001
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Oddly enough, there existed a certain snobbery amongst the servants as well from their placement at table in the servants' hall to the rank and title of one's master. The pbs site has so much great info, especially this sad commentary on how servants had to "disappear" through the green baize door, or if they could not evaporate into thin air, they were to turn their back to the "Quality" or avert their gaze, so as to not require acknowledging. http://www.pbs.org/manorhouse/edwardianlife/family_address.html
 
Dec 2, 2000
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>>for example, on the Camilla Parker-Bowles question, I would have gone for (C) Don't Give a Toss if given the chance.<<

Can I sign on with you on that one? I mean it's not as if I have a vested interest in whom the Prince of Wales is getting it on with or even if he is. Hope they enjoy themselves, but I've more pressing matters to concern myself with.
 
Jan 28, 2003
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Haven't a clue. Claret, eh. Lambrusco (awful stuff)? Bob Godfrey mused on type of Italian scooter ...? Yes, I really like the shoes question, the awful thing is that I have since actually started to look! Only I'm not sure what I'm supposed to be looking for really, so it's not much use for all that. I don't think my trainers say anything classy about me.
I think Inger's score must be either very very high, or very very low ....!
 

Dave Gittins

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Apr 11, 2001
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I came in at 57%, but it's all rather silly. For instance, I've known for years what a chukka is because my father was first aid officer at a polo club.

Lambrini is a sparkling wine, supposedly drunk by girls who wanna have fun. There's quite a bit about it on the net.
 
Mar 28, 2002
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I thought a chukka was a boot. I thought a Lambrini Girl was an old slapper. I usually laugh at people's shoes, particularly the big red "Ronald McDonald" type ones that seem to be blokes' fashion these days. I saw some amazing sights in Liverpool on a Saturday night a couple of weeks ago - I had no idea girls still wore white stilletos. As for Camilla Parker-Bowles - I think it goes to prove there is somebody for everybody. Shows how much I'm in a social whirl, eh?

I'd imagine there were a fair few snobs amongst the characters on Titanic, portayed to great effect in several films:

"But they're steerage passengers" - woman to her husband after he wanted to play ice football with 3rd class - ANTR

"Half of the people on this ship are going to die." - "Not the better half" - Cal to Rose - JC's Titanic

"You won't find any of your lot down here, Sir" - Lowe (?) to Cal when he went searching for Rose on Carpathia - JC's Titanic

"That's right, get into your tribal huddle and talk it over" (or words to that effect) - Richard Sturgess to the Uscadet (sp?) family - 1953 Titanic

I'm sure there are many more....

Cheers,

Boz