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When did the Upper Class English stop using servants?

They didn't...they just saved same money and uped the kink factor by marrying one.

by Anonymousreply 1802/17/2013

They still use servants.

They stopped using dozens and dozens of servants during the 20th century, when minimum wage laws and high taxes came in.

by Anonymousreply 102/17/2013

Also R1, when such innovations as automatic dishwashers, gas/electric stoves, central heating, etc made quite a few positions redundant.

by Anonymousreply 202/17/2013

my domestic went home about 8:30 this evening.

by Anonymousreply 302/17/2013

As I understand things, it was a matter of supply drying up as the Lower Orders became better educated after WWI.

by Anonymousreply 402/17/2013

Until the early 20th century, domestic servants were uneducated and unmarried girls, and they were paid literally almost nothing. Their employers provided them sleeping quarters, food, clothing, their tiny wages went to their families or were saved for a dowry. Women's labor was considered to be almost free, but working-class families still put their daughters "into service", when they were 8-12 years old. If the girls had jobs the families didn't have to feed them, and they'd have a chance to find a husband a bit higher up the social scale.

Mandatory secondary education and minimum wages came into force around the same time, the 1930s, and they were quickly followed by wartime jobs becoming available to uneducated women, and high wartime/postwar taxes. Great houses went from having fifty servants, to five.

by Anonymousreply 502/17/2013

I find it sort of sad that so many great houses either fell into disrepair or became state property because of death taxes.

by Anonymousreply 602/17/2013

If this really interests you you should read Monica Dickens 'One Pair Of Hands'.

She was an upper class girl, in London, who became a domestic servant in the 1930s and then wrote about it.

Good read.

by Anonymousreply 702/17/2013

R6 You will love this place, you can vacation there.

by Anonymousreply 802/17/2013


Actually I was thinking of them! I recalled that one of the Dukes of D, the one that was married to one of the Mitfords, said something about all of the families that were being ruined and thrown out of their houses, which I think is a terrible shame.

by Anonymousreply 902/17/2013

That post was intended for R8 :)

by Anonymousreply 1002/17/2013

[quote] the families that were being ruined and thrown out of their houses, which I think is a terrible shame.

You sound like The Marquis of Kensington @ link.

by Anonymousreply 1102/17/2013

R9 Debo is the last living Mitford sister.

I am not sure of the exact word for it but she has retired from the estate and let is pass to the next heir.

by Anonymousreply 1202/17/2013

"something about all of the families that were being ruined and thrown out of their houses, which I think is a terrible shame."


by Anonymousreply 1302/17/2013


by Anonymousreply 1402/17/2013

She is Dowager Duchess of Devonshire. She's still active in her way, but, yes, on the death of her husband the title and the estate passed to her son. There was a great UK series, maybe BBC, called A Year at Chatsworth. Shows how they run the estate. Debo's there. She's still a cracker.

by Anonymousreply 1502/17/2013

I thought the UK didn't have minimum wages until the late 1990s, r5. And servants were also often male.

There were a lot of social changes after both the First and the Second World Wars, which, aside from the "lower" classes "rising" also involved the "upper" classes being knocked down a bit, especially with huge taxes that broke up landed estates. I don't think you have landed estates with all these tenant farmers anymore. Then, especially after the Second World War, Britain got a welfare state, moves towards a more comprehensive education system, national health service, etc. Tastes and needs amongst the rich also changed and there wasn't a desire to live in such huge houses which needed so much work. The large old townhouses weren't liveable, e.g. in terms of plumbing, heating, so got divided up into flats. The poverty of the war era, followed by rationing for years afterwards and then great growth also led to a move away from such a stratified society.

Opportunities to make money also changed: professions opened up to the upper classes, you could be a lawyer or doctor, go into trade, run a shop. These same professions also opened up to the lower classes.

And, servants aren't "needed" in that way anymore: you can have gardeners, cleaners, cooks but they don't have to live with you, they can be self-employed professionals whose services you pay for.

by Anonymousreply 1602/17/2013

The English still have servants, they're just not English anymore.

by Anonymousreply 1702/17/2013

It's true there was much more day labour than before.

Taxes, especially inheritance taxes (as high as 80% if you didn't prevent it), made the great estates difficult to sustain. The houses were nightmares to heat and maintain. It was inheritance taxes got the Devonshires at Chatsworth, but they managed through.

Agricultural prices were not great overall between 1880 and 1950... land values soared then and that saved some bacon because they shored up their wealth through land sales. Still, the whole system relied in cheap labour and that wasn't sustainable in the end.

There are still a handful of estates that are private and the house not open to the public. I'm not sure who owns them. Google a Duke or an Earl and odds are there's an official website for the house and estate because they've got to have the place open to the public in order to afford it.

by Anonymousreply 1802/17/2013
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