Domestic Service In The Twentieth Century

1848 Words8 Pages
Great Britain’s persistent attention to class lies in its long cherished tradition over numerous generations. A clear and defining illustration is that of domestic service. In Britain, domestic service had been the largest occupation since the reign of Queen Victoria and it continued to expand enormously in subsequent years. Its development along the first half of the twentieth century is crucial for understanding the role of social class during the inter-war and post-war periods. In her article, Selina Todd states that “Domestic service was central to the negotiations over modern social relations that shaped the first half of Britain’s twentieth century” (2009: 203). It was the consequences of World War I that contributed to the beginning of change, and new job opportunities emerged for many servants; however, demand arose again during the inter-war period. By the post-war period, domestic service in Great Britain would not remain as prominent as it once were. Before 1914, the employment of servants was seen as a symbol of respectability and social status. By judging a family from the heritage they had and the number of servants they employed, the Edwardians strengthened the aforementioned pretentious ideal of class. A clear defined hierarchy was established in the…show more content…
Lethbridge comments on how families, who had recently returned from long years in service of the Empire, treated their staff. “Margaret Powell’s despised employer Lady Gibbons . . . had spent years in India in the heyday of the Raj and now, . . . on a pension that could barely stretch to a cook and parlourmaid, was terrified of losing caste” (2013: 111). Throughout the vast majority of the book, Powell writes with an angering attitude to ‘Them’, it will only be in one occasion that she speaks well about her employers; the following quote summarises what happened at that time – servants were tired of being submissive and fed up with not being
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