Servants were treated like washing machines, says historian

Post by Kevin on 28th December 2011 in

Servants were treated like washing machines, says historian

People who worked as servants during the Edwardian era would often have been seen simply as washing machines, says one historian.

Speaking to The Daily Telegraph newspaper, Jennifer Newby said the way servants are depicted in the hugely popular BBC television series Downton Abbey is wide of the mark, and that the relationship they have with their employers is "totally wrong".

Ms Newby, the editor of Family History Magazine, has carried out extensive research into the lives of people working in service and has read hundreds of letters and diaries.   

She said: "They would have been seen rather like the way we look at our washing machine, just something to give us a clean shirt."

Ms Newby said during her research she came across the story of one woman who worked for a vicar and was only allowed to wash when he was out of the house.

"The servants in the programme are far too clean. The reality would have been a lot more grubby. I don't think people realise that the servants stank."

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