Monday, 23 April 2018

Savile Row tailoring scandal in 1892. The Duke of York ( Prince George ) trousers scandal. DAVIES & SON

“1892: Miss Fanny Hicks is forced to tell the Trade Union Congress in Glasgow that trousers made for Queen Victoria’s grandson the Duke of York (later King George V) were made in a Soho sweatshop where typhoid fever has broken out. Miss Hicks then discloses that Davies & Son (the Duke’s tailor) is a subcontractor of the sweatshop. The scandal of the Duke of York’s Trousers is recorded in The Pall Mall Gazette and compounded by the mysterious death of the Duke’s brother and heir apparent Prince Albert Victor in January 1892.”

“Davies & Son found itself in the centre of a royal Savile Row tailoring scandal in 1892 when trade union whistle-blower Miss Fanny Hicks told the Glasgow Congress that trousers intended for the Duke of York (the future King George V) had been made in a sweatshop in Mayfair’s Woodstock Street. Miss Hicks alleged that Davies & Son had outsourced the prince’s trousers and waistcoat to the sweatshops behind Bond Street where minors had recently died of scarlet fever. Furthermore, she claimed Davies & Son had also outsourced a uniform intended for Prince Eddy, Duke of Clarence and Avondale to the self same workshop. Prince Eddy had ostensibly died of influenza complicated by pneumonia at Sandringham House in January 1892. But the Pall Mall Gazette made the link between infected garments and the death of a man once removed from the throne of Great Britain. Another victim was the youngest daughter of Davies & Son customer Sir Robert Peel. Good came from the scandal of the Duke of York’s trousers for which, incidentally, Davies & Son was exonerated.”
James Sherwood

by James Sherwood

Davies & Son is the oldest independent tailor trading on Savile Row.
Thomas Davies set up shop at No 19 Hanover Street in 1804, a year after his late brother founded the eponymous bespoke tailor on Cork Street in 1803. It was an era when the landscape of the fashionable West End of London was still under construction. The Prince Regent had yet to command John Nash to build Regent Street as a wide, colonnaded boulevard between Soho and Mayfair. Work had not commenced on the world’s longest, grandest covered shopping arcade Burlington Arcade and it it would be another 42-years before Henry Poole opened the first tailor’s shop on Savile Row. Davies, whose silhouette painted in black ink and preserved in the company archive has been reinstated as part of the trademark, was clerk to banking dynasty and army agents Greenwood, Cox & Co. He was responsible for the commission of army uniforms so it stands to reason that when he took the reins of his brother’s firm that he had a ready-made naval and military business during the Napoleonic Wars. We know that Admiral Lord Nelson was an early customer of Davies & Son and also patronised hatters James Lock & Co and Meredith of Portsmouth; the firm that became known as Gieves Ltd and, later, Gieves & Hawkes. EST 1803 SAVILE ROW Bespoke Tailors The Hanover Street house was decorated in fine late Georgian style with stucco ceilings as elaborate as royal icing and a filigree mahogany staircase that snaked upwards to the four floors above. Arbiter of fashion George ‘Beau’ Brummell and his follower the Prince Regent favoured tailors Meyer, Weston and Schweitzer & Davidson. But we know Davies had an elite civilian clientele from its earliest years. When the firm was forced to leave Hanover Street in 1979 a bill dated 1829 was discovered issued to twice Tory Prime Minister Sir Robert Peel who founded the modern police force. When Davies & Son first felt sufficiently confident to claim they dressed ‘all the crowned heads of Europe’ is unclear because all but one of its customer ledgers did not survive. But by 1915 the firm proudly display HM King George V’s Royal Warrant on the company’s letterhead flanked by the crests of the Emperor of Russia, the Kings of the Hellenes, Spain, Denmark and Norway and Queen Victoria’s third son Prince Arthur, Duke of Connaught. The letter also tells us that Davies & Son had a shop at No 16 Place Vendôme in Paris opposite The Ritz hotel. Queen Victoria’s grandsons the Princes Eddy and George were the first British royal customers to patronise the firm in the 1880s. Davies & Son found itself in the centre of a royal Savile Row tailoring scandal in 1892 when trade union whistle-blower Miss Fanny Hicks told the Glasgow Congress that trousers intended for the Duke of York (the future King George V) had been made in a sweatshop in Mayfair’s Woodstock Street. Miss Hicks alleged that Davies & Son had outsourced the prince’s trousers and waistcoat to the sweatshops behind Bond Street where minors had recently died of scarlet fever. Furthermore, she claimed Davies & Son had also outsourced a uniform intended for Prince Eddy, Duke of Clarence and Avondale to the self same workshop. Prince Eddy had ostensibly died of influenza complicated by pneumonia at Sandringham House in January 1892. But the Pall Mall Gazette made the link between infected garments and the death of a man once removed from the throne of Great Britain. Another victim was the youngest daughter of Davies & Son customer Sir Robert Peel. Good came from the scandal of the Duke of York’s trousers for which, incidentally, Davies & Son was exonerated. Davies, Poole’s and Meyer & Mortimer put their outworking factories in order, Fanny Hicks was exposed as a union firebrand stirring up trouble and Angelica Patience Fraser - the tailors’ Florence Nightingale – embarked on a new crusade to end ‘sweating’ as well as to curb the drunkenness and vice that was virulent in the tailoring workshops of Soho and Oxford Street. Neither did the scandal deter the Duke of York who was still a Davies & Son customer when he acceded to the throne in 1910 and remained so until his death in 1936. One of the most poignant photographs in the Davies & Son archive shows King George V and Tsar Nicholas II of Russia at Cowes’ Royal Regatta in 1910 with their eldest sons the Prince of Wales and Tsarevich Alexei. The royal cousins are near identical and wear matching blazers and flannels tailored by Davies & Son. Within eight-years the Tsar and his immediate family would be executed by firing squad in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. The Prince of Wales would reign for less than a year before abdicating the throne for the love of twicedivorced American Wallis Simpson. Another controversial customer from early 20th Century Russian history was the infamous bisexual Prince Felix Youssoupoff who recorded a 1903 visit to Hanover Street in his 1953 memoir Lost Splendour. The prince’s bulldog Punch tore the seat out of a fellow customer’s trousers. Prince Felix would be remembered as the man who shot the ‘mad monk’ Rasputin’ in 1917 and inadvertently speeded the downfall of the Romanov dynasty and the collapse of the Russian Empire. Another exotic customer in 1902 was the Maharaja of Cooch-Behar who ordered a tan goatskin motoring cap and two pairs of matching gauntlets. Establishment figures such as Liberal Prime Minister Sir Henry Campbell-Bannerman also patronised Davies. Richard Walker’s Savile Row Story (1988) gives a curious insight into King George V’s relationship with Davies & Son. The King, like his father Edward VII before him who made a point of visiting Henry Poole on Savile Row socially, did not request that Davies wait on him at Buckingham Palace. ‘The firm created a room for his exclusive use and fitted it with panels and a tube-like hosepipe, which communicated with the tailors upstairs’. Presumably the fifth floor salon reserved for royal customers to entertain their lady friends the previous century had been decommissioned. In 1935 the last of Davies family relinquished the business and it was taken over by a cabal of cutters who continued to run the company until 1996. Between World War I and World War II, Davies dressed heroes Field Marshal Lord Alexander of Tunis, Field Marshal Haig and spymaster Colonel Edward Boxshall as well as villains such as founder of the British Union of Fascists Sir Oswald Mosley. United States President Harry Truman was tailored by Davies after World War II as was President John F. Kennedy’s father Joe. Like most establishment tailors in the West End excluding Huntsman and Anderson & Sheppard, Davies & Son did not dress show business professionals before World War II. After VE Day in 1945 Clark Gable, Bing Crosby, Tyrone Power and Douglas Fairbanks, Jr. visited Davies & Son on Hanover Street. Echoing many tailors who survived the privations of war and clothing rationing, Davies & Son would have to adjust to the fact that (in their own words) ‘our business was built on the clothing requirements of the aristocracy of Europe and Great Britain. Today our business is mainly with the affluent and famous abroad’. When Davies changed its address to 32 Old Burlington Street (now Anderson & Sheppard) in 1979 many historic records were transferred to the Westminster Library and only a minimum of the shop fittings from Hanover Street were salvaged. No 19 Hanover Street is still standing but any original features are hidden by the interiors of a wine bar. Should you wish to see an interior comparable look at Browns restaurant on Maddox Street housed in the former Victorian showroom of Wells of Mayfair: a tailor now incorporated into Davies & Son. With 90% of business transacted overseas after the war, Davies & Son’s cutters joined the rest of Savile Row aboard the Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth for transatlantic trips to New York and, from Grand Central Station, all over the United States. Davies still travels frequently to France, Germany, Switzerland, Norway, Korea, Japan and, in the US, to New York, Chicago, LA, San Francisco, Dallas, Washington and Boston. Responsibilities on trips are now shared between owner Alan Bennett, senior cutter Patrick Murphy and senior salesman Graham Lawless. Mr Bennett has a formidable record in bespoke tailoring and is one of the very few members of the ‘50 Club’ who have worked for as many years or more on the Row. His training includes studying at the London College of Fashion and apprenticeships with Huntsman, Kilgour, French & Stanbury, Dege & Skinner and Denman & Goddard. Mr Bennett traded under his own name before saving Davies & Son from closure in 1997. He relocating the firm to No 38 Savile Row. Since the acquisition, Davies & Son has incorporated historic West End bespoke tailors such as James & James (who in turn bought-out the Duke of Windsor’s tailor Scholte), Wells of Mayfair, Watson, Fargerstrom & Hughes and royal and military tailor Johns & Pegg who hold the Duke of Edinburgh’s Royal Warrant. In addition to being a traditionalist Mr Bennett is one of the Row’s most creative cutters. In recent years he has collaborated with Guy Hills cutting suits made from Hills’s directional Dashing Tweeds cloth collections. It was he who sold Michael Jackson an Ambassadorial coatee in the 1990s giving the late king of pop one of his most iconic costumes. A new chapter was opened in Davies & Son’s story when former Huntsman head cutter Patrick Murphy joined Mr Bennett and Mr Lawless at No. 38 Savile Row in 2015. With so many once great names in Savile Row’s history sold to overseas investors and focusing increasingly on ready-towear, the few remaining firms in independent ownership gain authenticity and respect for maintaining standards and tradition. Tailors promising to revolutionise the Row or introduce modernity do not fool connoisseurs of bespoke tailoring. The aforementioned trust cutters and tailors who have practised the craft man and boy such as Messrs Bennett, Lawless and Murphy at Davies & Son

Saturday, 21 April 2018

“The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide To Chivalry.” By Brad Miner

“The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide To Chivalry.” By  Brad Miner

At a time of astonishing confusion about what it means to be a man, Brad Miner has recovered the oldest and best ideal of manhood: the gentleman. Reviving a thousand-year tradition of chivalry, honor, and heroism, The Compleat Gentleman provides the essential model for twenty-first-century masculinity.
Despite our confusion, real manhood is not complicated. It is an ancient ideal based on service to ones God, country, family, and friendsa simple but arduous ideal worthy of a lifetime of struggle.

Miners gentleman stands out for his dignity, restraint, and discernment. He rejects the notion that one way of behaving is as good as another. He belongs to an aristocracy of virtue, not of wealth or birth. Proposing neither a club nor a movement, Miner describes a lofty code of manly conduct, which, far from threatening democracy, is necessary for its survival.

Miner traces the concept of manliness from the jousting fields of the twelfth century to the decks of the Titanic. The three masculine archetypes that emergethe warrior, the lover, and the monkcombine in the character of the "compleat gentleman." This modern knight cultivates a martial spirit in defense of the true and the beautiful. He treats the opposite sex with the passionate respect required by courtly love. And he values learning in the pursuit of truthall with the discretion, decorum, and nonchalance that the Renaissance called sprezzatura.

The Compleat Gentleman is filled with examples from the past and the present of the man our increasingly uncivilized age demands.


A review of The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry, by Brad Miner
By: Terrence O. Moore

Posted: March 10, 2005
This article appeared in: Vol. V, Number 1 - Winter 2004/05

Edmund Burke's famous pronouncement that "the age of chivalry is gone" was perhaps premature. Sure, ten thousand swords did not leap from the scabbards of the French nobility to defend Marie Antoinette, but such a betrayal did not mean that "the unbought grace of life, the cheap defence of nations, the nurse of manly sentiment and heroic enterprise" was forgotten in Britain, or America. More than two centuries later, the spirit of chivalry has not been entirely eradicated from the human heart, even in our pacifist, feminist, postmodern age.

While teaching both college and high school students, I have found nothing to electrify a classroom as much as the topic of chivalry, which I always introduce with the simple question, "Is chivalry dead?" The reasons for student interest are straightforward: young women are curious to see how men used to treat women in a more mannered and moral age, and young men, for their part, are painfully aware that in many respects they are less manly than their forefathers. These students have usually been given little instruction by their parents and teachers on what it means to be a man or a woman. Perhaps no other image, then, can appeal to them as much as the knight on horseback who will, for the sake of honor, fight any man, and still bow in deference to every lady.

And yet, the story of chivalry has not gotten out. Maurice Keen, Richard Barber, and Georges Duby have written excellent academic histories of chivalry, but these works are aimed at a scholarly audience and make no attempt to explore the relevance of chivalry for our own time. Medieval narratives, especially Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur, are often tough reading and Hollywood blockbusters like last summer's King Arthur or A Knight's Tale from a few years ago are utter disappointments. But now Brad Miner, an executive editor at Bookspan and former literary editor for National Review, has given us The Compleat Gentleman, an attempt to trace the chivalric tradition from medieval times to our own and to return contemporary manhood to its moorings in this gentlemanly tradition.

After the fall of the Roman Empire, lawless young men on horseback roamed the countryside in search of a fight. They threatened any semblance of order, and especially threatened women. Gradually, these young men became less dangerous by accepting the code of knighthood. They promised to display certain virtues: loyauté, prouesse, largesse, courtoisie, and franchise. In return, they might gain property by marrying the daughter of a lord. Or they might make a considerable fortune and win glory by testing their mettle in frequent tournaments. Miner offers interesting snapshots of the knight's training, the knighting ceremony, and tournaments. These last, in particular, were crucial to the development of chivalry, having "the dual virtues of providing both a means of testing a knight's prowess and of expiating his violent energies." And Miner reminds us that tournaments in the heyday of chivalry were not celebrated in the fashion of the confined jousts of either Scott's Ivanhoe or cinematic lore, but rather in the form of a mêlée, a massive battle lasting all day and often engaging hundreds or even thousands of knights. Injuries were frequent, and death was not uncommon.

While Miner offers the basic outlines of medieval chivalry, he fails to recount certain facts and anecdotes that might do more to win our hearts. For example, as courtly philosophy began increasingly to shape the ideal of knighthood, a knight could be barred from tournaments for any unchivalrous behavior, including deserting his lord in battle, destroying vineyards and cornfields, or repeating gossip about a lady. Can we imagine a sporting event today in which players who had "talked trash" about a girl would not be allowed on the field? Who would be left to play? Miner makes excellent observations on William Marshal, "the flower of chivalry," but most of his other character sketches amuse more than they impress. Other knights should have appeared in this book. Consider Maréchal Boucicaut who while in Genoa running the government of Charles VI, once bowed to two prostitutes, whom he did not know. His page said, "My lord, they are whores." Boucicaut responded, "I would rather have saluted ten whores than to have omitted saluting one respectable woman." Another good lesson for a culture that too often treats respectable women as "ho's."

* * *

Miner classifies the chivalrous man as part warrior, part lover, and part monk, and addresses each aspect of this ideal in separate chapters. A reformed pacifist who prefers his sons to be Galahads rather than Gandhis, Miner clearly sees that a post-September 11 America is no place for milquetoasts. We are living in a fallen world and bad men want to do bad things to us. We must be ready to respond in kind: "a gentleman really must face the reality of violence and not reject it, but like any warrior he will turn to violence only as a last resort."

The chapter on the lover is not nearly as inspiring. Miner does a good job of explaining how troubadours and assertive ladies with questionable sexual histories, such as Eleanor of Aquitaine, could establish the quasi-religion of courtly love. He is also forthright about the difficulty such love poses to all contemporary moralists who want to adopt chivalry as a model: knights and ladies were often adulterers, most famously Guinevere and Lancelot. But Miner never mentions Wolfram von Eschenbach, the 13th-century Bavarian knight who tried in his Parzival to reconcile courtly love with marriage. Nor does he say anything about the reforms of the 14th and 15th centuries, that sought to turn weak-willed knights into true gentlemen. And most curious of all, he ends a chapter about love with a discussion of women in combat. According to his rather strained logic, the true gentleman respects women and gives them what they want. If she is strong enough and willing, then today's "woman warrior" should be allowed to fight alongside today's chivalrous man.

Miner's treatment of the gentleman is likewise far from "compleat." He does relate the history of the gentleman, the successor to the knight, from the Renaissance onward, but unfortunately he sandwiches this chapter between his first chapter on the knight and his three chapters on the warrior, the lover, and the monk, which all return to medieval themes. As a result, he never shows any of the improvements or adjustments that the culture of the gentleman made on the original model, especially with regard to sexual mores. And too often he considers gentlemanly advice books as a true reflection of how actual men thought and acted. Such a selective use of sources is understandable for the Middle Ages, but the historical record is far richer in modern times. His handling of the 18th century is particularly lacking: he focuses on Lord Chesterfield's letters to his illegitimate son, a work which Miner himself tells us was considered by Samuel Johnson to "teach the morals of a whore, and the manners of a dancing master." Only by confusing the century of Washington and Hamilton and Burke with the letters of Chesterfield could one conclude that the "heroic aspect of the gentlemanly character would begin to be lost in the mystification of manners." Miner actually gives no more than a passing mention to America's greatest gentlemen, the Founding Fathers. And he seems to think little of manners generally. The muddled section on politesse hardly recommends good manners at all but instead insists, "nobody has better manners or finer suits or more skill in debate than the devil himself."

Finally, Miner overlooks one vital aspect of modern manliness altogether. His tripartite knight roughly corresponds to the medieval conception of the three orders in society: oratores (those who pray), bellatores (those who fight), and laborares (those who work). Yet he substitutes lovers for workers, leaving no place in his scheme for what most gentlemen do in modern times: work hard to provide for their families. Calling for a return to the warrior ethic in these times is certainly warranted. But in practical terms, not all of us can serve in the military. And as Adam Smith knew and American history has shown, an industrialized power firm in its will and purpose will always prevail over a less developed enemy.

Despite its flaws, Brad Miner's book is a good introduction to chivalry and one hopes it will inaugurate a rich discussion over the qualities of true manliness. For that, we owe him our courteous thanks.


Chivalry is Dead, Long Live Chivalry
Author of "The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man's Guide to Chivalry" argues the ideal endures.
Books By Christian Chensvold

 Ours is an age of conflicting messages. Human progress is simultaneously thwarted and thriving, technology both connects us and isolates us. And when it comes to masculinity, some cry it’s a toxic social construct that must be eradicated, yet it is concurrently celebrated in every big-screen depiction of superhero saving the world from destruction.

In 2004, Brad Miner wrote a non-partisan though deeply traditional interpretation of heroic manliness entitled The Compleat Gentleman: The Modern Man’s Guide to Chivalry. It is assiduously researched, soul inspiring, and quite literally a call to arms. Miner and his sons are all practicing martial artists, and he sees physical prowess and being “combat ready” as intrinsic qualities of any gentleman, who by definition is prepared to summon the courage to confront evil and to sacrifice himself for others.

Having recently discovered the book, I was immediately curious what relevance it may still hold to any but that small minority that binge-watches Game of Thrones on Saturday night and then attends services the following morning. Wouldn’t new cultural concerns, such the rise of social media, with its fake news and public shaming; #MeToo, the wage gap, and equity across the gender spectrum; free speech vs. punch-a-Nazi (that’s anyone who disagrees with you); and the teaching of white privilege/supremacy/colonialization made notions of gentlemanliness and chivalry more antiquated than ever?

I reached out to Mr. Miner and found that, like any true traditionalist, he hadn’t changed much, even if the world around him has.

* * *

Fourteen years after The Compleat Gentleman, has the call for chivalry and gentlemanliness become hopelessly quixotic, or is it needed now more than ever?

Brad Miner: Early on in the book I acknowledge that there is a quixotic character about all this, but I also assert that it has always been so. Thoreau, who is among America’s most overrated icons (only slightly less odious than his buddy Emerson), wrote that “the mass of men live lives of quiet desperation.” Maybe so, although I doubt it. But few are, or ever were, chivalrous. They may have intelligence, good manners, and humor — and those are fine qualities — but few will be willing to lay down their lives for others.

Increasingly, the active life is succumbing to the passive life. Social bonds are weakening, military enlistments are declining. If the trend of turning inward continues, we will be a diminished people. However, there will always be men — and women — who will seeks something better, higher, and more fulfilling.

So much has changed since the book came out. If you were to sit down and write the book today, how would all the social changes affect your thinking on chivalry and the role of the contemporary gentleman?

BM: Well, as to what I might change, the answer is nothing. The point of my book was to identify the aspects of chivalric and gentlemanly behavior that are not rooted in any particular time and place; that, with allowances for cultural change, are the same in 2018 as they were in 1118.

You’ve said our current president is much closer to a cad than a gentleman, and many think he’s far worse than that. Likewise, #TimesUp and #MeToo are exposing the worst side of male behavior. We seem to be in an indeterminate state in which there are shreds of the old chivalry but not enough to exert the controlling influence on men’s baser behaviors that it used to help curtail, and an imagined future of gender equity in which men no longer behave badly. Can you comment on this current limbo-like state?

BM: We’re not in “limbo” any more than in any previous moment in history. It’s our perennial existential predicament. If there is a difference between now and a time when chivalry was assumed to be among humanity’s highest ideals, it’s that in those other eras many men aspired to be chivalrous; now far fewer do. But never believe that chivalrous men were ever more than a minority. It takes courage to be a compleat gentlemen, because it is always countercultural. As Chesterton wrote, there are an infinity of angles at which a man falls; only one at which he stands upright.

In your book you describe the compleat gentleman as always combat-ready and physically able and willing to defend good against evil. How would you update your assessment of this in this age of polarized self-righteousness when who the bad guys are has become more subjective than ever. Could your views about “be ready to defend against evil” be misinterpreted?

BM: It’s true that chivalry is above all the worldview of fighting men. In my book, however, I acknowledge that not all compleat gentlemen are necessarily combat-ready. There are other ways a man can fight. But as to the thuggishness to which you refer, it bears no similarity to chivalry, given that in the incidents of violence by fascists right and left of which I’m aware, seem, in every case, to be expressions of cowardice.

As to my words being misinterpreted, that goes with the business of writing. And, as Antonio tells Bassanio in The Merchant of Venice, “The devil can cite Scripture for his purpose.”

The current state of boys and young men continues to be troubling. They exhibit far more social pathologies than girls and far underperform in scholastic achievement, including college enrollment. The right says our culture has become too feminized, while the left says antiquated “toxic” ideas about masculinity are the problem. What are your thoughts?

BM: Any man – from his teens into his thirties – who succumbs to “feminization” deserves his fate. I’m neither a psychologist nor a sociologist, but if I were assigning a bird-dog researcher to nose out an answer, I first give him the scent of passivity. That’s a good place to start in the matter of violence too. Many boys now come through American schools being taught that their masculinity is toxic. It’s up to parents, fathers especially, to reject this. I think it’s entirely compatible with the development of young, chivalrous men that they should learn to smile through the stupidity – to listen to the nonsense and to reject it without engaging in too much confrontation. Take what is good; reject what is bad.

I write a lot about restraint in The Compleat Gentleman, even calling it the great “lost virtue.” Martial skills, sports, hobbies, reading that challenges the mind, lively conversation, and lasting friendships will sustain a young man through good times and bad. And I’d be remiss if I did not suggest that religious faith is also very important.

Third-wave feminism has also advanced significantly, aided by social media. And yet there are reports that anxiety and neurosis among young women is at a record high. How would you characterize the trade-offs we’re seeing as the old patriarchy and its courtesies continues to evaporate, replaced by a kind of bureaucratic chaperone chivalry (affirmative consent, chaperones during male-female business meetings) in the guise of gender equality?

BM: I must say this is the first time I’ve encountered the term “chaperone chivalry.” It’s an interesting turn of phrase, except I’m unclear what you mean by it. In my chapter on “The Lover,” I did my best to think through the implications of the obvious and ongoing changes in the relationship between the sexes. It’s clear to me that feminism has been good for some women – perhaps most – and bad for others. It’s also clear that sex roles have changed, for good or for ill. But it’s also clear that there are two sexes and that they are different. If feminists of whatever wave wish not to acknowledge those differences and, therefore, to reject the deference and support of good men, that’s their right.

Besides the cliché of being a doorman whenever a lady is near, what are things that a man can start doing right now to make himself more gentlemanly and chivalrous?

BM: He should stop thinking so much about himself. He should drop to one knee and thank God for giving him life, and he should swear never to act dishonorably.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

The Queen's corgis are dead / VIDEO: Queen Elizabeth and Her Royal Corgis | Country Living

The Queen's corgis are dead: long live the 'dorgis'
Willow’s death marks first time the monarch has not owned a corgi since the second world war

Martin Belam and agencies
Wed 18 Apr 2018 11.24 BST Last modified on Wed 18 Apr 2018 11.39 BST

The Queen’s last remaining corgi has died, it has been reported. Willow, who was almost 15, was put down after suffering from cancer, making it the first time the monarch has not owned a corgi since the end of the second world war.

Willow was the 14th generation descended from Susan, a corgi gifted to the then Princess Elizabeth on her 18th birthday in 1944. The Queen has owned more than 30 dogs of the breed during her reign.

It was reported in 2015 that the Queen had stopped breeding corgis because she did not want to leave any behind after she died.

She still has two dogs, Vulcan and Candy, which are informally known as “dorgis” – a cross-breed between a dachshund and a corgi introduced to the royal household when Princess Margaret’s dachshund Pipkin mated with one of the Queen’s dogs.

Vulcan and Candy appeared alongside Willow on the front cover of Vanity Fair in 2016, shot by Annie Leibovitz to celebrate the Queen’s 90th birthday.

Willow was the last surviving corgi to have appeared alongside the Queen and the actor Daniel Craig in the 2012 London Olympics opening ceremony James Bond sketch. Willow, Monty and Holly had greeted the secret agent as he arrived at the palace to accept a mission from the Queen.
The dogs ran down the stairs, performed tummy rolls and then stood as a helicopter took off for the Olympic stadium, carrying Bond and a stunt double of the Queen. Monty died a couple of months after the sketch was filmed, and Holly was put down in 2016.

Buckingham Palace has declined to comment on Willow’s death, saying it is a private matter.

The Queen has been very fond of corgis since she was a small child, having fallen in love with the corgis owned by the children of the Marquess of Bath. King George VI brought home Dookie in 1933. A photograph from George VI's photo album shows a ten-year-old Elizabeth with Dookie at Balmoral. Princess Elizabeth and her sister Princess Margaret would feed Dookie by hand from a dish held by a footman. The other early favourite corgi during the same time was Jane.

Elizabeth II's mother, at that time Queen Elizabeth, introduced a disciplined regimen for the dogs; each was to have its own wicker basket, raised above the floor to avoid drafts. Meals were served for each dog in its own dish, the diet approved by veterinary experts with no tidbits from the royal table. A proprietary brand of meat dog biscuits was served in the morning, while the late afternoon meal consisted of dog meal with gravy. Extra biscuits were handed out for celebrations and rewards.

Crackers (24 December 1939, Windsor – November, 1953) was one of the Queen Mother's corgis, and nearly a constant companion; he retired with the Queen Mother to the Castle of Mey in Scotland. In 1944, Elizabeth was given Susan as a gift on her 18th birthday. Susan accompanied Elizabeth on her honeymoon in 1947. The corgis owned by the Queen are descended from Susan. Rozavel Sue, daughter of Rozavel Lucky Strike, an international champion, was one of the Queen's corgis in the early 1950s.

The Queen has owned over thirty corgis since her accession to the thrones of the United Kingdom and the other Commonwealth realms in 1952.

The Queen's fondness for corgis and horses is known even in places such as Grand Cayman; when Elizabeth and Prince Philip visited the island in 1983, government officials gave her black coral sculptures of a corgi and a horse as a gift, both made by Bernard Passman.

Sugar was the nursery pet of Prince Charles and Princess Anne. In 1955, her pups, Whisky and Sherry, were surprise Christmas gifts from the Queen to the Prince and Princess. Pictured with the royal family, the corgi Sugar made the cover of The Australian Women's Weekly on 10 June 1959. Sugar's twin, Honey, belonged to the Queen Mother; Honey took midday runs with Johnny and Pippin, Princess Margaret's corgis, while the Princess lived in Buckingham Palace. Heather was born in 1962 and became one of the Queen's favourites. Heather was the mother of Tiny, Bushy, and Foxy; Foxy gave birth to Brush in 1969.

The corgis enjoy a privileged life in Buckingham Palace. They reside in the Corgi Room, and continue to sleep in elevated wicker baskets. The Queen tends to the corgis in her kennel herself. She also chooses the sires of litters that are bred in her kennel. The corgis have an extensive menu at the palace which includes fresh rabbit and beef, served by a gourmet chef. At Christmas, the Queen makes stockings for pets full of toys and delicacies such as biscuits. In 1999, one of Queen Elizabeth's royal footmen was demoted from Buckingham Palace for his "party trick of pouring booze into the corgis' food and water" and watching them "staggering about" with relish.

In 2007, the Queen was noted to have five corgis, Monty, Emma, Linnet, Willow, and Holly; five cocker spaniels, Bisto, Oxo, Flash, Spick, and Span; and four "dorgis" (dachshund-corgi crossbreeds), Cider, Berry, Vulcan, and Candy. In 2012, Queen Elizabeth II's corgis Monty, Willow, and Holly appeared during the brief James Bond sketch when Daniel Craig arrived at Buckingham Palace for a mission to take the queen to the 2012 Summer Olympics opening ceremony. Monty, who had previously belonged to the Queen Mother, and one of her "Dorgis" died in September 2012. Monty had been named for the horse whisperer and friend of the queen, Monty Roberts. As of November 2012, it was reported that Elizabeth owns two corgis, Willow and Holly, and two Dorgis, Candy and Vulcan. It was reported in July 2015 that the Queen has stopped breeding corgis as she does not wish any to survive her in the event of her death. Monty Roberts had urged Elizabeth to breed more corgis in 2012 but she had told him that she "didn't want to leave any young dog behind" and wanted to put an end to the practice.

The dogs have traditionally been buried at the royal residence, Sandringham estate in Norfolk, at which they died. The graveyard was first used by Queen Victoria when her Collie, Noble, died in 1887. In 1959, the Queen used it to bury Susan, creating a cemetery for her pets.However, Monty was buried in Balmoral estate.

On several occasions, the Queen or her staff have been injured by the corgis. In 1954, the Royal Clockwinder, Leonard Hubbard, was bitten by Susan upon entering the nursery at the Royal Lodge, Windsor. Later in the same year, one of the Queen Mother's corgis bit a policeman on guard duty in London.

In 1968, Peter Doig called for the royal staff to put up a "Beware of the dog" sign at Balmoral after one of the corgis bit the postman. In February 1989, it was reported that the royal family had hired an animal psychologist to tame the dogs after they developed a habit of nipping them and the staff. In March 1991, the Queen was bitten after trying to break up a fight between ten or so of her corgis. She had to have three stitches to her left hand. John Collins, the Queen Mother's chauffeur, had to have a tetanus injection after he also tried to intervene. In 2003, Pharos, a tenth-generation offspring of Susan, was put down after being mauled by Princess Anne's English bull terrier Dottie. Anne arrived at Sandringham to visit her mother for Christmas and the corgis rushed out of the front door as they arrived. It was reported that "Dottie went for Pharos, savaging the corgi's hind legs and breaking one in three places."

The royal corgis are known all across the world and are closely associated with the Queen. The corgis have had numerous items dedicated to them, in particular being the subject of many statues and works of art. Because of the Queen's fondness for the Welsh Corgi, an increased number of corgis were exhibited in the 1954 West Australian Canine Association's Royal Show.Queen Elizabeth II’s crown coin KM# 1135, made of copper nickel of size 33 mm, issued during her Golden Jubilee year, shows the Queen with a corgi.

Monday, 16 April 2018

Remembering The King Who Invented Ballet, BBC4 / VIDEO: BBC The King Who Invented Ballet

The King Who Invented Ballet, BBC Four
David Bintley takes a look at Louis XIV's impact on classical dance
September 2015 marks the 300th anniversary of the death of King Louis XIV of France and this documentary looks at how Louis XIV not only had a personal passion and talent for dance, but supported and promoted key innovations, like the invention of dance notation and the founding of the world's first ballet school, that would lay the foundations for classical ballet to develop.
Presented by David Bintley, choreographer and director of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, the documentary charts how Louis encouraged the early evolution of ballet - from a male-dominated performance exclusive to the royal court to a professional artform for the public featuring the first female star ballerinas. The film also looks at the social context of dance during Louis XIV's reign, where ballets were used as propaganda and to be able to dance was an essential skill that anyone noble had to have.
As well as specially shot baroque dance sequences and groundbreaking recreations of 17th-century music, it also follows Bintley as he creates an exciting new one-act ballet inspired by Louis XIV. Danced by 15 members of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, The King Dances features an original score by composer Stephen Montague, designs by Katrina Lindsay and lighting by Peter Mumford and receives its world premiere on television directly after the documentary.

Louis XIV, the King of France from 1643 to 1715, was a ballet enthusiast from a young age. In fact his birth was celebrated with the Ballet de la Felicite in 1639. As a young boy, he was strongly supported and encouraged by the court, particularly by Italian-born Cardinal Mazarin, to take part in the ballets. He made his debut at age 13 in the "Ballet de Cassandre" in 1651. Two years later in 1653, the teenage king starred as Apollo, the sun god, in The Ballet of the Night or in French, Le Ballet de la Nuit. His influence on the art form and its influence on him became apparent. His fancy golden costume was not soon forgotten, and his famous performance led to his nickname, the Sun King. In the ballet, he banishes the night terrors as he rise as sun at dawn. His courtiers were forced to worship him like a god through choreography. They were made clear of the glory of King Louis XIV and that he had absolute authority both on and off the dance floor. The ballets that young King Louis performed in were very different from ballets performed today. The form of entertainment was actually called ballets d’entrées. This refers to the small divisions, or “entries,” that the ballets were broken up into. For example, Le Ballet de la Nuit, comprised over forty of such entries, which were divided into four vigils or parts. The whole spectacle lasted 12 hours.

Throughout his reign, Louis XIV worked with many influential people in his court dances. He worked alongside poet Isaac de Benserade, as well as designers Torelli, Vigarani and Henry de Gissey, which made fashion and dance closely interlinked. Possibly his greatest contribution to the French court was bringing composer/dancer Jean-Baptiste Lully. Louis supported and encouraged performances in his court as well as the development of ballet throughout France. Louis XIV was trained by Pierre Beauchamp. The King demonstrated his belief in strong technique when he founded the Académie Royale de Danse in 1661 and made Beauchamp leading ballet master. King Louis XIV’s and France’s attempt to keep French ballet standards high was only encouraged further when in 1672 a dance school was attached to the Académie Royale de Musique. Led by Jean-Baptiste Lully, this dancing group is known today as The Paris Opera Ballet.

The king was very exacting in his behavior towards his dancing. In fact, he made it a daily practice to have a ballet lesson every day after his morning riding lesson. As the French people watched and took note of what their leader was doing, dancing became an essential accomplishment for every gentleman. Clearly ballet became a way of life for those who were around King Louis XIV. If one looked at the culture of seventeenth-century France, one saw a reflection of an organized ballet that was choreographed beautifully, costumed appropriately, and performed with perfect precision.[according to whom?] Louis XIV retired from ballet in 1670.

Jean-Baptiste Lully
Perhaps one of the most influential men on ballet during the seventeenth century was Jean Baptiste Lully. Lully was born in Italy, but moved to France where he quickly became a favorite of Louis XIV and performed alongside the king in many ballets until the king’s retirement from dance in 1670. He moved from dancer for the court ballets to a composer of such music used in the courts. By the time he was thirty, Lully was completely in charge of all the musical activities in the French courts. Lully was responsible for enlivening the rather slow stately dances of the court ballets.[3] He decided to put female dancers on stage and was also director of the Académie Royale de Musique. This company's dance school still exists today as part of the Paris Opera Ballet. Since dancers appeared in the very first performances the Opera put on, the Paris Opera Ballet is considered the world’s oldest ballet company. When Lully died in 1687 from a gangrenous abscess on the foot which developed after he stuck himself with the long staff he used for conducting, France lost one of the most influential conductors and composers of the seventeenth century. However, Lully did not work alone. In fact, he often worked in collaboration with two other men that were equally influential to ballet and the French culture: Pierre Beauchamps and Molière.

Pierre Beauchamps
Beauchamps was a ballet-master who was deeply involved with the creation of courtly ballets in the 1650s and 1660s.However, Beauchamps began his career as the personal teacher to Louis XIV. Beauchamps is also credited with coming up with the five fundamental foot positions from which all balletic movements move through. Beauchamps techniques were taught throughout France in secondary schools as well as by private teachers.[5] Contemporary dancers would astonish Beauchamps at their ability to have 180-degree turnout. Beauchamps dancers wore high-heeled shoes and bulky costumes which made turnout difficult and slight. One of the first things that Lully and Beauchamps worked together on was Les Fêtes de l’Amour et de Bacchus, which they called opéra-ballet. The opéra-ballet is a form of lyric theatre in which singing and dancing were presented as equal partners in lavish and spectacular stagings. The Les Fêtes de l’Amour et de Bacchus, one of their first and most famous collaborations, consisted of excerpts from court ballets linked by new entrées stages by Beauchamps. Customarily, King Louis and courtiers danced in the court ballets; however, in this new form of entertainment, the opéra-ballet, all of the dancers were professionals. Beauchamps not only collaborated with Lully, but he also had the great privilege to partner with Molière during his lifetime.

Beauchamps also originated the Beauchamp-Feuillet notation, which provided detailed indications of the tract of a dance and the related footwork. Starting in 1700, hundreds of social and theatrical dances were recorded and widely published in this form. Although this has been superseded in modern times by even more expressive notations, the notation is sufficiently detailed that, along with contemporary dancing manuals, these dances can be reconstructed today.

Molière was a well-known comedic playwright during that time period. He and Beauchamps collaborated for the first time in 1661, which resulted in the invention of comédie-ballet. His invention of comedies-ballets was said to be an accident. He was invited to set both a play and court ballet in honor of Louis XIV, but was short of dancers and decided to combined the two productions together. This resulted in Les Facheux in 1661. This and the following comédie-ballets were considered the most important advance in baroque dance since the development of Renaissance geometric figures.[6] One of the most famous of these types of performances was Le Bourgeois gentilhomme, which is still performed today and continues to entertain audiences.[1] The idea behind a comédie-ballet was a combination of spoken scenes separated by balletic interludes; it is the roots for today’s musical theatre. Many of Molière's ballets were performed by Louis XIV. According to Susan Au, the king's farewell performance was Molière's Les Amants magnifiques in 1670. Not only were these types of performances popular in the courts, but they helped transition from courtiers being the dancers to using actors and professional dancers, soon to be known as ballerinas.[1] The comédie-ballets helped to bring understanding between the court and the commoners as the transition from court ballets to a more common place ballet occurred.

With Molière writing the dialogue and directing, Beauchamps choreographing the ballet interludes, and Lully composing the music and overseeing the coming together of all the dancers and actors, these three giants of men worked together to create many beautiful pieces of art for King Louis XIV.

Ballet originated in the Italian Renaissance courts of the 15th and 16th centuries before it had spread from Italy to France by an Italian aristocrat, Catherine de' Medici, who became Queen of France. In France, ballet developed even further under her aristocratic influence. The dancers in these early court ballets were mostly noble amateurs. Ballets in this period were lengthy and elaborate and often served a political purpose. The monarch displayed the country's wealth through the elaborate performances' power and magnificence. Ornamented costumes were meant to impress viewers, but they restricted performers' freedom of movement.

The ballets were performed in large chambers with viewers on three sides. The implementation of the proscenium arch from 1618 on distanced performers from audience members, who could then better view and appreciate the technical feats of the professional dancers in the productions.

French court ballet reached its height under the reign of King Louis XIV. Known as the Sun King, Louis symbolized the brilliance and splendor of France. Influenced by his eager participation in court ballets since early childhood, Louis founded the Académie Royale de Danse (Royal Dance Academy) in 1661 to establish standards and certify dance instructors. In 1672, Louis XIV made Jean-Baptiste Lully the director of the Académie Royale de Musique (Paris Opera) from which the first professional ballet company, the Paris Opera Ballet, arose. Lully is considered the most important composer of music for ballets de cour and instrumental to the development of the form. Pierre Beauchamp served as Lully's ballet-master, the most important position of artistic authority and power for the companies during this century. Together their partnership would drastically influence the development of ballet, as evidenced by the credit given to them for the creation of the five major positions of the feet. The years following the 1661 creation of the Académie Royale de Danse shaped the future of ballet, as it became more evident to those in the French Nobility that there was a significant need for trained professional dancers. By 1681, the first of those who would now be called "ballerinas" took the stage following years of training at the Académie, influenced by the early beginnings of codified technique taught there.

The King Who Invented Ballet, BBC4
The programme is riveting, blending monstrous extravagance and social history
Martin Hoyle SEPTEMBER 11, 2015

Louis XIV may not have created ballet, admits David Bintley of the Birmingham Royal Ballet, but he was ballet’s first icon, as The King Who Invented Ballet (Sunday, BBC4 8pm) explains. Louis loved to dance, and his nickname “le Roi Soleil” seemed assured when as a 14-year-old the monarch appeared at the climax of a 13-hour spectacle, dazzling in gold, representing the sun dispersing the night’s blackness.

Follow that. And he did, creating the Grand Siècle which saw France’s apogee, its acknowledged greatness — but also bankruptcy, a legacy that would destroy his descendants.

Other creations included the Académie Royale de Danse and the school of the Ballet de l’Opéra where students still bow and curtsy to adults by royal decree.

The king gave up dancing after 75 roles in court spectacles but his influence continued and ballet spread to public theatres, with women also taking part. Above all, Louis established a style of grace and nobility, epitomised by the famous portrait by Hyacinthe Rigaud in which the king is in fourth position, one leg forward, toes turned out.

Bintley was starstruck by Louis as a boy and his film combines history, dance, spectacle — a beautiful book of costume designs for his famous 13-hour allegory shows werewolves, an anthropomorphic chessboard, fantastics and grotesques — and music: years of research and informed guesswork are used to recreate the original orchestration for a recording. Locations include Versailles, Paris and Birmingham, where Bintley prepares his new ballet, The King Dances, inspired by Louis’ apotheosis as Sun King.

The programme is riveting, blending as it does politics and culture, monstrous extravagance and social history. It leads into a complete performance of Bintley’s ballet, whose premiere was greeted with a mixed reception in June. But some aspects — lighting ranging from Stygian to dazzling; Stephen Montague’s score easily combining baroque and modern — work especially well on TV.

Thursday, 12 April 2018

Servants . Life Below Stairs. VIDEO:The Autenticity of Gosford Park

Servant tourism: how TV made us fetishise 'below stairs' culture
British stately homes and hotels are cashing in on our fascination with scullery maids and butlers. Is it because we love Sunday night drama, or do we just want to understand the jobs our ancestors did?

Harry Wallop
Mon 31 Oct 2016 17.25 GMT Last modified on Tue 19 Dec 2017 20.59 GMT

ITV’s big autumn hit Victoria featured an impossibly pretty Queen Vic, a brooding Albert and plenty of gorgeous sets and costumes. But unlike most other depictions of royalty on screen – including Peter Morgan’s Elizabeth II spectacular The Crown, which launches on Netflix this week – below stairs in Victoria featured as heavily as the political machinations in the drawing room.

Critics, most of whom lauded the show, raised eyebrows at the love-in between the monarch and her minions. One said it “felt more obligatory than it did organic”.

Daisy Goodwin, the creator of the show, insists the servants’ quarters were not added to keep focus groups or producers happy. “It was entirely my decision to add a below-stairs plot,” she says. “I keep hearing people say that the ITV executives forced me into it. Not at all. In fact, I had to slightly fight to keep the servants, because their storylines kept being cut back. I thought from the beginning that you need to have a counterpoint to what is going on upstairs.”

The accusations are understandable. Downton Abbey, which gave as much weight to the butlers, footmen and maids as to the aristocrats they served, was one of this decade’s biggest hit, both in the UK and the US.

A bit of spice behind the green baize door, mixed with some gentle class tension, appears to be a foolproof formula for TV gold, and one that stretches back to the early 1970s with ITV’s .

Yet the trend for fetishising servant culture has spread beyond the small screen; the National Trust and English Heritage – both of which reported record visitor numbers last year – are investing heavily in highlighting the servants’ quarters in many of their properties, while the gift shops increasingly reflect our fascination with domestic service over aristocratic lifestyles.

Visit Blenheim Palace, Sir John Vanbrugh’s masterpiece in the Cotswolds, and you can pick up a wide selection from the Below Stairs product range, including the butler’s scented candle with notes of cedarwood, frankincense and citrus. It has the aroma, the box explains, of “waxed wooden floors and a freshly laid fire in the butler’s pantry”. If that doesn’t take your fancy, there’s a House Maid’s lampshade brush, or perhaps the Valet’s clothes brush made from scented pearwood and is “suitable for cashmere”.

This autumn, our servant obsession appears to have moved up another gear. The Sir John Soane Museum in London opened a Below Stairs exhibition in September, featuring artwork created by modern designers as a response to the museum’s recently restored Regency kitchens.

The Pig at Combe, a new boutique hotel in Devon, has just opened a private dining room for 14 people in the original Georgian kitchen, which features a range, cast-iron pans hanging from the wall and flagstones on the floor. The hotel pitches the room as a “below-stairs experience” featuring Mrs Beeton’s recipes – though you would struggle to find quinoa, one of the ingredients on the menu, in her guide to household management.

Daisy Goodwin says she is not surprised consumers want to explore life below stairs. “There’s a couple of things going on. There is a revisionist view of history; it’s political correctness, possibly,” she says. “But there is also people’s genuine interest. I am always obsessed with the smell of the past. Nothing takes you faster back to the 19th century than seeing how hard it was to do your laundry, or how women had to deal with their periods.”

There is another reason why the historical pendulum has swung from the drawing room to the scullery: consumers are statistically more likely to have domestic servants than great landlords in their ancestry. At a peak before the first world war, there were an estimated 1.5 million people in domestic service in Britain, compared with 560 members of the House of Lords – and we are more aware than ever, thanks to the glut of genealogy websites and historical records online, which category we fall into.

This is certainly true for the visitors at Audley End, a fabulous Jacobean property in Essex, owned and run by English Heritage. Here you can admire a Holbein, a Hilliard miniature or a Canaletto, as well as the Robert Adam library in the main house. But the bigger crowds can be found in the servants’ wing, which includes a laundry, where children are allowed to turn the mangle, and a kitchen, from where the smell of bread is emanating and on the day I visit “Mrs Crocombe” issuing orders and criticising “Sylvia”, the second kitchen maid, for her slow apple peeling. Of course, both are actors. There are five in the house, all playing servants from the year 1881 and refusing to come out of character.

Tess Askew, 80, is visiting as part of the group from the Swanton Morley WI in Norfolk and is trying to engage Mrs Crocombe in a discussion about a microwave. The cook, in turn, pretends to be baffled about this “modern appliance” – an act that tickles the tourists.

Askew says the appeal of touring the old laundry and kitchens is partly seeing the lovely shelves of copper pots and jelly moulds, and partly “being housewives – we’re interested in how they used to do it”.

“There is a retro-chic about housework,” says Lucy Lethbridge, the historian and author of Servants: A Downstairs View of 20th-Century Britain, “usually among people who don’t have to do it very much. If you really have to clean, you don’t have much sentimentality about using lemon juice on your windows, or making your own beeswax polish.”

Many of the visitors at Audley End have researched their own family histories. Don Crouch, 58, a retired civil servant from St Albans, who is visiting with his wife and a friend, says: “A lot of people look back at their ancestors and have more connection with downstairs than upstairs life. Even fairly wealthy middle-class people are not well heeled enough to relate to upstairs life.”

His wife, Judith, has researched her family back to the 1780s and discovered her ancestors were drovers, labourers and sawyers. “I do find the class thing very interesting. I come from working-class stock. Although I maybe have gone up a little bit in the world, this,” she says, pointing to Mrs Crocombe, “is more what I would have experienced if I had been around then.” She works for the V&A, but is admiring the fine porcelain pie dishes.

Some historians, however, worry that though the reconstructions of servants’ lives here and at other stately homes are well researched, they can mislead modern audiences.

Dr Lucy Delap, a Cambridge lecturer whose specialism is domestic service, says that in the great houses – be they the Buckingham Palace of ITV’s Victoria or the real-life Audley End – the servants “were quite well paid, and their conditions were quite easy when compared to the majority of servants working in one- and two-person households. They didn’t have a green baize door and time off in the afternoon, and didn’t have rustic-looking wheelbarrows to move apples around in.”

Delap is a fan of Audley End and other heritage days where you can pick up the dolly or iron and feel the weight of a pre-electric domestic appliance, but too often people fail to realise how back-breaking the work was. “Being a servant was all about getting up early, working until midnight and getting chilblains,” says Delap. “People don’t think of it in those terms, because of the likes of Downton and Victoria. These romantic depictions of domestic service really efface the idea that this is a site of precarious, exploitative labour.”

I ask Askew if, born a century earlier, she would prefer to have been a member of the domestic staff or one of the Braybrookes, the aristocratic family who owned Audley End. “I’d like to think I’d be down here with what was really going on. I wouldn’t like to be up there with people curtseying to me. I like this kind of life,” she says.Some historians suggest below-stairs life is possibly back in fashion because it represents a golden era compared with today’s uncertainties. Lethbridge says: “It is an age, seen through rose-tinted spectacles, when we imagine the classes mixed in a paternalistic, co-dependent pyramid. The leisured class were at the top, supported by the labour of those at the bottom, who were in turn looked after. Maybe there is something in that highly regulated certainty that is attractive to us now.”

Most people do not, of course, connect the domestic servants of Victoria or Downton with today’s equivalent: the eastern European cleaner with no paid holidays, or the Deliveroo-rider handing over your evening meal. Or, for that matter, staff in large country houses – now often a hotel.

The most famous of these is Cliveden House, the Italianate pile owned by the Astor family and scene of legendary parties and the Profumo scandal. It is now owned by the National Trust but leased to one of Britain’s smartest hotels, which employs 150 staff to service the 48 rooms. If you book The Butler Did It break – which starts at £350 per night, per person – you can enjoy a private tour with the house butler, 53-year-old Michael Chaloner. Disappointingly, he stopped wearing tails a few years ago, but he is full of stories of famous guests, including Charlie Chaplin and Michael Jackson, as he shows you around the bits of the house that are usually off limits. This includes the amazing view from the roof, the Lady Astor suite (yours for £1,200 a night) and the below-stairs area.

Here, the historic bells used to summon staff are mere decoration. Most of the service corridors and former servants’ sitting rooms are turned over to the operations of a fully functioning modern hotel, with waiters and chefs scurrying past the stacks of firewood used in the great hall, and unused foldaway beds.

“A lot of the Americans don’t like seeing this bit,” Chaloner says. “But a lot of Brits do.” Below stairs, as Lethbridge points out, is so often a reminder of class, something “rotted deeply into our national psyche and our sense of ourselves”.

Chaloner adds: “I think people care about the staff a little bit more nowadays. When I first came here in the early 90s, people came here for their £1,500 lunches, the fattest cigars, and the most expensive brandies. They didn’t care two hoots about the people serving them. But now people are interested in the people who work in the hotel. The staff are part of the deal.”

In the lobby of the hotel, there is a small selection of merchandise on sale, including the DVD of Scandal, the film of the Profumo affair; The Lady’s Maid: My Life in Service by Rosina Harrison, a former maid of Nancy Astor; and scented candles. I tell him I’m disappointed there isn’t a butler version.

“What would it smell of? Boiled cabbage, old socks and body odour?” he laughs. “I am under no illusions about how grim life was below stairs back then.”

 Being a servant was all about getting up early, working until midnight and getting chilblains

• This article was amended on 1 November 2016. An earlier version said the original 1970s series of Upstairs Downstairs was broadcast by the BBC. It was made by LWT and shown on ITV.

 Servants: the True Story of Life Below Stairs, BBC Two, review
Michael Pilgrim reviews Servants: the True Story of Life Below Stairs, Dr Pamela Cox' new BBC Two series exploring the lives of servants.
4 out of 5 stars
By Michael Pilgrim10:00PM BST 28 Sep 2012

Dr Pamela Cox explores the secret history of servants at the beginning of the 20th Century for her new BBC Two series, Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs.

Dr Pamela Cox explores the secret history of servants at the beginning of the 20th Century for her new BBC Two series, Servants: The True Story of Life Below Stairs. Photo: BBC
The prodigious 19th-century letter writer Jane Carlyle had a frightful time with her servants. She went through 34 in 32 years. Hardly surprising since they were that breed of hired help known as the maid of all work, the sole domestic in a middle-class household.

One such, Mary, had the misfortune to give birth in a back room of Jane’s Chelsea house. Feet away, Jane’s husband Thomas Carlyle was busy taking after-dinner tea, the great essayist seemingly unperturbed.

This was not good. As Servants: the True Story of Life Below Stairs (BBC Two) explained, Mrs Carlyle was seen to have failed to keep her employee on the path to righteousness. There was no choice. Mary had to go.

Servants was presented by the academic Dr Pamela Cox. Given that Cox’s grandmothers were in service and that she teaches at Essex – a university not renowned for its right-leaning views – one might have expected a rant. Certainly, the picture painted was far from the gentle Farrow & Ball ambience of Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey, but it was not without affection.

Cox started her three-parter at Erddig, North Wales. In the 19th century, the estate employed 45 staff labouring for 17 hours a day. They had to shift three tons of coal a week, enough for 51 fireplaces and five ovens. Six hundred items of clothing were laundered a week and 60 pairs of boots polished daily. A laundry maid could be paid as little as £700 a year – at today’s prices.

The work was meticulous, repetitive and exhausting. Which makes you think that they have a secret underground room at Downton full of whirring German white goods doing all the work. Little else explains why the staff never look tired or sweaty.

None the less, Erdigg represented the paternalistic end of domestic service. Its owners hung what were known as loyalty portraits of their staff in a hall. The photos were charming, but the typed poems pasted beside them sounded more the sort of thing you’d write about a beloved puppy, than about the people who starched your shirt and blacked your footwear.

Though enlightened enough to acknowledge the staff, the family were witheringly dismissive of those who displeased them, as the clunky verses for Mrs Hale, a ladies maid, made clear: “Black was her dress, her face austere, and when she for Brighton did leave, no one here a sigh did heave.” Not what you’d call a positive reference for a future master, even if it does rhyme.

It wasn’t just a question of us and them. Servants themselves were graded into a complex hierarchy, governed by arcane rules, presided over by the butler, cook and housekeeper, the last a portly, dragonish figure who only had to jangle her keys to evoke fear in low-ranking hall boys.

The sense of benevolent orderliness, of people content in their allotted station, is, of course, a cosy Victorian fabrication, just like the conventions of Christmas. It is a myth that even now bathes us in warm nostalgia and persuades us to buy National Trust tea-towels. Cox’s cheerful pursuit for her subject suggested she even enjoyed the myth a bit herself, despite better intentions.

 "Below Stairs" is a study of servant portraiture in Britain and is illustrated with works by Hogarth, Gainsborough and Stubbs. Continuing the examination of traditional domestic life explored in the films "Gosford Park" and "Remains of the Day", "Below Stairs" is also the subject of a BBC Four documentary. Featuring portraits of all ranks of servant the book illustrates the shifting organisation of households through the centuries, and the highly complex relationships between employers and employees. Traditionally, portraiture in Britain has concentrated on recording the upper classes and the celebrated. Instead, "Below Stairs" explores the representation of the servant, be it in a grand or modest household, in the country or in the town, at the royal courts or at colleges and clubs. This groundbreaking selection of paintings and photographs tells a fascinating story about power, class and human relationships spanning over 400 years of social and economic history.

Behind the green baize door
While 'upstart' butlers may make news, servants have largely been invisible in the history books. In art and fiction, however, they have long been an iconic presence, writes Alison Light

Alison Light
Sat 8 Nov 2003 01.30 GMT First published on Sat 8 Nov 2003 01.30 GMT

Down ill-lit corridors the servant scurries, disappearing into darkened chambers, hurrying back to the kitchens or the courtyards, a blur on the edge of vision. Servants form the greatest part of that already silent majority - the labouring poor - who have for so long lived in the twilight zone of historical record. In the servant's case, though, anonymity often went with the job.

In mid-to-late 19th-century Britain, when live-in service was at a peak, servants' labour was meant to be as unobtrusive as possible. Relegated to the basements and the attics, using separate entrances and staircases (their activities muffled and hidden behind the famous "green baize door"), they lived a parallel existence, shadowing the family members and anticipating their needs - meals appeared on the table, fires were found miraculously lit, beds warmed and covers turned back by an invisible hand.

In the grander households the lower servants were often unknown "above stairs". The writer Vita Sackville-West recalled that at Knole her mother was supplied with a list of first names from the housekeeper before she doled out seasonal gifts. More conveniently, servants were often hailed by their work titles such as "Cook" or "Boots", or, if their own names were considered too fancy, given more "suitable" ones: "Abigail", "Betty", "Mary Jane" were all in vogue at one time. Deportment and body language, the bowed head, the neatly folded hands, all prevented servants from "putting themselves forward", though few employers were like the Duke of Portland at Welbeck, who expected his staff to turn their faces to the wall if they encountered the family.

Few, that is, except for the royal family, some of whose archaic practices were revealed last week by Paul Burrell in his book A Royal Duty (including the Sunday task of ironing a £5 note for the Queen's church collection). Royal servants have long been a source of fascination because of their proximity to rulers who were otherwise remote. Such relationships often caused friction at court, as when Queen Victoria allowed her Hindustani teacher, or Munshi, the 24-year-old Abdul Karim, to take his meals with the royal household. The Windsors may expect a feudal level of fealty from their staff and, as the self-styled "keeper of Diana's secrets", Burrell is one in a long line of upstarts who has overstepped the mark. Yet the history of domestic service, even at its most mundane, suggests that it has always been a job like no other, involving unusual intimacies and frequently encouraging both employers and their charges to invest in a fantasy of friendship.

From medieval times, litigious servants have sought redress in the courts (legal records offer some of the earliest evidence of their lives). But historians have long found servants to be awkward customers. Their numbers alone make a history of service daunting (in 1900, there were still more people working in domestic service than in any other sector barring agriculture). Though they were legion, so much about servants was singular. They were legally seen as dependents but in principle were free to leave. Their hours of work, time off and wages were often unregulated and the perquisites, or "perks" of the job, such as the quality of their board and lodging, varied enormously. Working in comparative comfort behind closed doors, deferring to employers and perhaps silently envious of them, the figure of the servant represents all that is the opposite of the articulate, organised or collectively minded. Feminised, indoor and intimate, domestic service is usually excluded from more heroic accounts of the making of the English working classes.

Yet domestic service was not simply a throwback to a pre-industrial world. The ideal of service was the cornerstone of 19th-century life, informing the language and structure both of public institutions and family life. The Victorians elevated dependence into a moral and social good. The idea of serving others (perhaps in the new civil "service" or as a "servant" of a bank or indeed, in the "services") was strengthened indoors by an evangelical Christianity. Domestic servants drew satisfaction and self-respect from their devotion to duty, though few were so inspired as Hannah Cullwick, Arthur Munby's maid and scullion in the 1860s. Up to her elbows in grease and muck, she welcomed the filthiest chores, as her diaries record, partly as a test of her humility and of her faith in a salvation achieved by hard work. But "being drest rough & looking nobody", also gave her the freedom to "go anywhere and not be wonder'd at".

Service could mean betterment, though rarely did a servant rise far above her station (Cullwick eventually married her master but she obstinately resisted playing the lady). In Merlin Waterson's The Servants Hall (1980), which describes 250 years of domestic history at Erddig, the Yorke family's modest country house on the Welsh marches, we learn that Harriet Rogers preferred to be a lady's maid and housekeeper than remain at home on an isolated farm. The Yorkes encouraged her reading and broadened her horizons but she remained single all her life and quietly put away her numerous Valentine cards. Servants made choices, though not in circumstances of their own choosing. If we fail to recognise this, they remain typecast as trouble makers or arch conservatives, as rogues or dupes or victims.

Servants haunt the 18th- and 19th-century domestic novel, conjuring up the fears and fantasies of their employers. As Daniel Defoe's diatribe of 1724, "The Great Law of Subordination Consider'd", testified, the unruly servant was a sorcerer's apprentice who could send not just the kitchen but the whole social order spiralling into anarchy. In Jane Austen's Mansfield Park (1814), when Fanny Price returns home to Portsmouth from her posh relatives, her first sight is of Rebecca, "a trollopy looking maid" who is "never where she ought to be". Rebecca's sluttish ways speak volumes about the moral impropriety of the family. Like Samuel Richardson's Pamela before her, Fanny is herself a servant morally worthy of a better station in life (Charlotte Brontë's Jane Eyre is one of her descendants). Her social climbing will reform but not threaten the upper classes. She looks forward to generations of middle-class mistresses whose superiority depends on keeping others firmly in their place.

It's almost impossible for us to see service except through an optic of class antagonism or exploitation. Yet the attachments between servants and their employers were often complex. No man, as they say, is a hero to his valet - certainly not Charles Darwin, whose butler, Joseph Parslow, douched and dried him everyday for four months, while Darwin tried hydropathy for his chronic diarrhoea and nausea. Parslow, who numbered among his many tasks donning leather gaiters to gather flower spikes from ditches or ferrying plant specimens back from Kew Gardens, often cradled Darwin like a baby in his arms. Thomas and Jane Carlyle got through servants at a rate of knots (one was dismissed by him as a "mutinous Irish savage"). Prostrated by headache, Jane was often comforted by another maid-of-all-work, Helen Mitchell, who rubbed her cheek with her own and soothed her mistress with companionable tears.

Servants might be officially invisible but they were central as providers, especially when their employers were at their most needy. The English upper classes have frequently recalled cold childhoods warmed only by confederacies with the servants. Rudyard Kipling's first memories, in Something of Myself , were of his Portuguese ayah and the Hindu bearer, Meeta, who held his hand and eased his fear of the dark. "Father and Mother" were associated with painful partings. Service, in other words, has always been an emotional as well as an economic territory. The valet, the housekeeper and the girl who emptied the chamberpots all knew this as they stepped over the threshold of someone else's house.

In most painting, as in literature, servants appear in supporting roles. But an exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery - "Below Stairs: 400 Years of Servants' Portraits" - gives faces to some of those whom history has effaced. British art frequently followed the Italian convention in which a servant, a page or secretary, a horse or dog, might be included to enhance the stature of the principal subject. Literally so with Van Dyck's portrait of Queen Henrietta Maria painted in 1633; she was quite tiny but standing next to dwarf Jeffrey Hudson added several cubits to her height.

Servants were among the first commodities to be displayed, along with the fashionable silks and porcelain, in small-scale "conversation pieces", family portraits from the 1720s. There are also plenty of walk-on parts for servants in genre paintings: pretty dairymaids in tidy farmyards, grooms exhibited with prize hounds in sporting scenes, ruddy-faced, fleshy cooks amid the slaughtered meat. Only rarely does a tremor of personality disturb these still lives.

"Below Stairs" concentrates on individual portraits of servants that have survived thanks to their employers' affection or caprice. The majority are "loyalty" portraits, meant to be exemplary and instructive, testifying to the benevolence of the masters as much as to the virtues of their staff. Erddig's enlightened squires had individual, informal portraits painted of the whole household, from the lowly "spider-brushers" to the cook, coachmen and gardeners, often with humorous scrolls attached detailing their lives and work. Loyalty portraits were popular too with the university colleges, museums, banks, clubs, hotels and other institutions. Paintings elevated trusty employees to the status of a symbol.

In their accompanying catalogue, curators Giles Waterfield and Anne French rightly warn that such portraits are anomalous. Only large establishments were likely to commission costly pictures and most British servants worked for the ever-expanding middle classes in far humbler situations. Rather than the butler or the housekeeper, the typical domestic in the 19th-century home or lodging-house was the "maid-of-all-work" or "slavey", like Dickens's "Marchioness" in The Old Curiosity Shop , whose half-starved existence comically belies her inflated title. Usually a young girl, often straight from the workhouse, such general servants came cheap (until the 1940s the majority of Barnardo's girls went straight into other people's kitchens).

Life-size or full-length, looking you straight in the face, it's a shock to encounter sympathetic images of people so often caricatured, reduced to cartoon or grotesquerie. Artists aimed at more than mechanical likenesses, "mere face-painting", as William Hogarth dubbed it. Bored with their patrons, painters were sidetracked by the servants whose faces were free of cosmetics and whose figures were less inert than those hampered by the trappings of wealth. George Stubbs's portrait of Freeman, the Earl of Clarendon's gamekeeper, for instance, shown moving in for the kill, is a force in his own right. Elderly servants, unlike their employers, didn't need to be flattered: the woodcarver with his spotted neckerchief, the weary housekeeper and the messenger at the Bank of England are given all their blemishes and wrinkles.

Loyalty portraits frequently commemorate long service and nothing is dearer to the conservative imagination than the image of the old retainer. Yet at the great houses, where the rewards for long service were most enticing, the speed at which servants could be hired and fired was often breathtaking. Even at Erddig there were clear limits to liberality. Elizabeth Ratcliffe, a lady's maid in the 1760s, was a talented artist who could put her hand to a mezzotint as easily as to her mending, but after one of her successes her mistress wrote to her son vetoing further exploits lest "I shall have no service from her & make too fine a Lady of her, for so much say'd on that occasion that it rather puffs her up". There are almost no portraits of ladies' maids in British art. Since the maid often dressed in the mistress's cast-offs, her Ladyship was afraid, perhaps, of being upstaged.

In reality, though, most servants have always been comers and goers, migrants arriving in the city and hoping to send money home, moving on to marriage or a better place. Ultimately, the servant portrait is poignant because it's a contradiction in terms. Its subjects, who often in life couldn't call their souls their own, are proudly dressed in a little brief authority. But even the most amiable portrait of the servant is always a portrait of the master.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, photography took over the loyalty convention, with group portraits of uniformed servants, often displaying their badge of office - a broom, a saucepan or a garden fork - formally posed outside the house. Such photographs remind us that live-in service does not belong to the distant past (I have one such memento of my grandmother in her days as a skivvy). Servants' testimonies, like those in the sound archives at Essex University, are often full of bitterness and shame. In her autobiography, Below Stairs (1968), Margaret Powell remembers how deeply humiliated she felt when her mistress told her to hand newspapers to her on a silver salver: "Tears started to trickle down my cheeks; that someone could think you were so low that you couldn't even hand them anything out of your hands."

Between the wars, as other employment became available, women, and particularly the young, voted with their feet. The decline of live-in service revealed just how hopelessly dependent many employers were. In the 1920s, for instance, Lytton Strachey's sisters, Pippa, Marjorie and Pernel (the former dedicated to women's suffrage, the latter principal of Newnham), had to ask their younger relatives to turn on the oven on the servant's day off. Dependence was often a matter of pride rather than practical incompetence. Opening the front door was especially unthinkable since servants were the gatekeepers to the outside world. Well into old age, Siegfried Sassoon, in impoverished isolation at Heytesbury House, kept up a façade of grandeur by asking visitors to come by the servants' entrance.

Of course there were people who remained a lifetime in other people's families, who were unstinting and generous and who believed what they were doing was worthwhile. Julia and Leslie Stephen's cook, Sophie Farrell, who was passed around Bloomsbury circles for many years, went on signing herself "yours obediently" to "Miss Ginia" (Virginia Woolf) all her life. Others were snobs who missed their privileges and the kindness of their employers. Once the old models of rank and deference collapsed, lives foundered; Frank Lovell, for five years head footman at Erddig, made a new start as a chauffeur just before he joined up in 1914 but the war years left him adrift. Disappointed and unsettled, he drowned in 1934, leaving his wife and young son believing it to be suicide. Servants often found it hard to adjust to a more democratic world.

But so did their employers. Although socialists and feminists might campaign for the poor, plenty assumed that housework was beneath them or that others were more suited to it. Margaret Bondfield, minister of labour in 1931, annoyed fellow Labour party members by refusing out-of-work Lancashire mill girls unemployment benefit if they turned down domestic training. The feminist Vera Brittain, whose unconventional household was shared with her husband and Winifred Holtby, her friend, depended on the servants, Amy and Charles Burnett, for years. It didn't prevent Brittain from bemoaning the lot of "the creative woman perpetually at the mercy of the 'Fifth Column' below stairs". Writers and artists wanted uninterrupted time and their servants duly emancipated them. Grace Higgens, for instance, "the Angel of Charleston", made it possible for Vanessa Bell to be a painter, cooking and cleaning for her for more than 40 years. "Ludendorff Bell", as her son Quentin called her, kept up the Victorian habit, nonetheless, of starting every day by giving her orders to the cook, who stood waiting while her mistress sat at the breakfast table. For all the photographs and portraits Bell made of Grace, they could never be pictured side by side.

By the 1950s, few British women expected to "go into" service but that is hardly the end of the story. In the last decade or so the domestic-service economy - an army of cleaners, child-minders, nannies and au pairs - has been rapidly expanding (Allison Pearson's recent apologia for the career woman, I Don't Know How She Does It, goes guiltily over the old ground of the mistress victimised by a manipulative underling). In this country much of the cooking and cleaning is done by low-paid casual workers, often migrants, in private houses as well as in hotels, offices and schools. Racial assumptions, as well as class feelings - as Barbara Ehrenreich and others have argued - are fostered by this division of labour.

All of us begin our lives helpless in the hands of others and will probably end so. How we tolerate our inevitable dependence, especially upon those who feed and clean and care for us, or take away our waste, is not a private or domestic question but one that goes to the heart of our unequal society. We rely constantly on others to do our dirty work and what used to be called "the servant question" has not gone away. The figure of the servant takes us not only inside history but inside ourselves.

· "Below Stairs" is at the National Portrait Gallery, London WC2, until January 11. Alison Light is writing a book about Virginia Woolf's servants, to be published by Penguin.

 Servants' Hall: A Real Life Upstairs, Downstairs Romance (Below Stairs)
Margaret Powell

Margaret Powell's Below Stairs became a sensation among readers reveling in the luxury and subtle class warfare of Masterpiece Theatre's hit television series Downton Abbey. Now in the sequel Servants' Hall, Powell tells the true story of Rose, the under-parlourmaid to the Wardham Family at Redlands, who took a shocking step: She eloped with the family's only son, Mr. Gerald.

Going from rags to riches, Rose finds herself caught up in a maelstrom of gossip, incredulity and envy among her fellow servants. The reaction from upstairs was no better: Mr. Wardham, the master of the house, disdained the match so completely that he refused ever to have contact with the young couple again. Gerald and Rose marry, leave Redlands and Powell looks on with envy, even as the marriage hits on bumpy times: "To us in the servants' hall, it was just like a fairy tale . . . How I wished I was in her shoes."

Once again bringing that lost world to life, Margaret Powell trains her pen and her gimlet eye on her "betters" in this next chapter from a life spent in service. Servants' Hall is Margaret Powell at her best―a warm, funny and sometimes hilarious memoir of life at a time when wealthy families like ruled England.

What the Butler Saw: 250 Years of the Servant Problem
by E. S. Turner 
This is a lively foray into a world where a gentleman with £2,000 a year was betraying his class if he did not employ six females and five males; where a lady could go to the grave without ever having picked up a nightdress, carried her prayer bookor made a pot of tea. It is the story of the housekeeper and the butler, the cook, the lady's maid, the valet and the coachman. Their duties are described in detail, and the story is told of the strife and even pitched battles that ensued between servants and the served. Here is social history from a fascinating angle, packed with droll information lightly handled, with many a moral for our own times.
Servants: A Downstairs View of Twentieth-century Britain Paperback
by Lucy Lethbridge 
Servants: A Downstairs View of Twentieth-century Britain is the social history of the last century through the eyes of those who served. From the butler, the footman, the maid and the cook of 1900 to the au pairs, cleaners and childminders who took their place seventy years later, a previously unheard class offers a fresh perspective on a dramatic century. Here, the voices of servants and domestic staff, largely ignored by history, are at last brought to life: their daily household routines, attitudes towards their employers, and to each other, throw into sharp and intimate relief the period of feverish social change through which they lived.
Sweeping in its scope, extensively researched and brilliantly observed, Servants is an original and fascinating portrait of twentieth-century Britain; an authoritative history that will change and challenge the way we look at society.