What Downton Abbey Gets Completely Wrong About Early 1900s Servants

As with any show set in times that have passed, the question always arises as to the accuracy of the portrayal of events, even if the show is historical fiction, like “Downton.” People will question costumes, props, and speech patterns. One of the most resounding questions is about the depictions of the relationships between the servants and the aristocratic family which they serve. According to some, the way these connections were presented on screen was not accurate in the slightest.

In most of the episodes of the show, the relations between the staff and the Crawleys appears to be pretty close and rather personal in nature. This cozy presentation was described by one historian as being “completely wrong and infuriating to watch,” per Wales Online. One of the major complaints is that the Crawley family is way too friendly and kind to their employees and blatantly crosses the line in what is often considered a professional relationship. According to British Heritage Travel, when running houses of large sizes, duties were very regimented, and the servants were often ordered to stay out of sight. Usage of back entrances and hidden staircases made this easier to accomplish, so it is fair to question whether a family with the status of the Crawleys would interact so freely with their staff.

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