Table of contents:

Myths and Reality in the Popular TV Series "Downton Abbey": 5 Facts About Servant Life in Great Britain
Myths and Reality in the Popular TV Series "Downton Abbey": 5 Facts About Servant Life in Great Britain

The series "Downton Abbey", the events of which develop at the beginning of the twentieth century, is somewhat similar to a fairy tale. Stunning landscapes, well-mannered heroes, some incredible calmness and regularity - all this made the tape one of the most popular in the world. And the life of the servants and their relationship with representatives of the high society seem to be downright ideal places. But didn't the creators of the series go too far from the real picture of life in the UK at that time?

Far from the conveniences we are used to today

Still from the TV series "Downton Abbey"

Throughout the tape, you can often hear from the servants some concern about the possible lack of hot water in the evening. And the broken boiler in the estate caused extreme concern on the part of the staff. If you study the historical facts, you can be convinced that in those days in Great Britain such a luxury as a hot bath could only be afforded by very wealthy people. Even the middle class, who had no more than five servants at their disposal, had to heat water in order to wash themselves. The servants were deprived of such pleasure. Especially when it came to winter. In the morning, it was necessary to first chop ice for washing, and then melt and heat it on the stove. In the evening, she only had enough strength to get her own bed.

High relationship

Still from the TV series "Downton Abbey"

The characters of the series throughout the entire tape are almost always extremely polite and friendly. Mary Crowley even calls her maid a friend, and simply asks the butler to go to work. But how far this model of relations between servants and owners is from historical reality! There could be no talk of any friendship between the servant and the hostess, as well as a request to go to work. Historians say: in those days, the servants, at best, were simply not noticed. At worst, they even hated and did not forget to demonstrate their attitude. Therefore, orders were given without any piety.

Voluptuous servants

Still from the TV series "Downton Abbey"

It seems that not only in Great Britain, but all over the world, servants were appreciated, first of all for their quickness and diligence, and secondly, for their ability to remain silent. It is hardly possible to imagine a situation when the maids, as in "Downton Abbey", will express their point of view on any occasion, and even more so if no one asks for the opinion of the servants. Here, a simple cook can afford to criticize the monarchy while preparing dinner for George V. The butler, on the other hand, decides to convey to the guests his good attitude towards the king, taking advantage of the reception arranged by the owners. Anna Smith gives advice not only to her own mistress, but to all guests of the estate, although no one asks her about it. At the same time, the owners are quite loyal to such behavior of servants and all that they are capable of in this situation is just a disapproving look.

It is worth remembering that at the beginning of the last century in Great Britain the servant, who was always silent, was considered the ideal. The owners could never have heard the voice of a servant or a cook for several years. Even among themselves, the service staff communicated exclusively in an undertone, and even then only when there was enough time for this, because their working day lasted 17-18 hours a day.

Don't talk about love

Still from the TV series "Downton Abbey"

Long and grueling working hours were often the reason for the lonely servants. Making love relationships at work was strictly forbidden. Housekeepers and butlers were required to ensure that junior service personnel did not have the opportunity to build a personal life "within the team." The lot of the maids was humility and uncomplaining acceptance of the masters' harassment. If the unfortunate girl had a child as a result of such "resignation", then this became exclusively her problem. The unfortunate was awaited by dismissal and a damaged reputation.

The creators of Downton Abbey calmly allowed the same cook, an opponent of the monarchy, to marry a footman and receive congratulations not only from the senior servant, but also directly from the mistress of the estate.

Banned cosmetics

Still from the TV series "Downton Abbey"

It is hard to imagine that in those distant times, a servant, like Anna Smith in the series, would style her hair in a fashionable hairstyle and put on makeup in the presence of a housekeeper. Servants in Great Britain had to remain not only mute, but also faceless, they were forbidden to use makeup, and their hair had to be hidden under a cap.

The British have long and, apparently, forever earned a reputation as snobs, and they themselves, perhaps, will not agree to part with such a national peculiarity. Maybe that's the point the secret of the popularity of the six seasons of Downton Abbey, where the aristocrats of foggy Albion appear before the viewer in a rather predictable role.

Popular by topic