The life and death of a lady. An account of an aristocratic life

Contents

The elderly aristocrat

An aristocratic life

Time and tide wait for no man, or aristocratic lady

The elderly deserve their dignity. They have earned it

When ladies walked The Earth

A typical aristocratic residence. Ladies live here

Source

The elderly aristocrat


The old woman felt that the stairs were getting increasingly difficult to negotiate in recent years. Perhaps it might make more sense to sleep downstairs now that rheumatism was attacking her knees, as well as the arthritis that was starting to twist her once beautiful fingers into claws that would have looked better on an eagle than on a human being. Still she would continue to make the effort. If she could sleep in her own room, rather than bedding down on a camp bed in front of the fire in the old servants hall, she could feel that the old days were not entirely gone and she was still Lady Margaret Davenshaw, rather than just the creaking old “bag of bones”, who would certainly not see ninety again.


An aristocratic life

Lady Margaret was no snob, and she had always been kind to the servants in the days when she had them. She was not like her parents. They had been so grand that they would not even notice if a maid or a footman was in the room. They had carried on private conversations, and sometimes arguments, at dinner while taking no regard to whether the person pouring the soup could hear every word. To her parents, an on duty servant was just a utensil, not much different really than a tray with legs.

That had been the time when Edward VII had been on the throne. In the years before World War One everyone knew their place, and they were content with it.

In the years following that great conflict there had been some changes. So many of the footmen that had stood to attention in their knee breeches, and made sure no member of the family ever needed to pull in their own chair, had fallen foul of German machine gunners, that some changes had to be made. So many maids had also found that there was more money and freedom to be got from working in factories than from combing a lady’s hair, or dusting the Louis Quinze furniture, that female servants were increasingly difficult to retain. Lady Margaret’s mother actually met her end when she forgot that the conveniences of a lifetime were no longer there. She fell and broke her hip when she attempted to sit down for dinner, while forgetting that there no longer was a servitor to push in her chair. Old Lord Davenshaw only survived the death of his wife by around nine months. Since there was no male heir, Davenshaw Manor became the property of Lady Margaret. The staff, that had numbered over sixty indoor and outdoor servants, was reduced to around fifteen to look after all departments of the estate.

That was one of the reasons why the new chatelaine had a more informal relationship with her household staff. She was still the mistress, and the time honoured conventions were still largely observed. Everybody called her “Madame” or "Ma’am". Maids would curtsey to her, and the male servants would always give a little bow. They would continue to stand up when she entered a room where they were. Unlike her parents, she would ask them to sit down again straightaway. In the years before the war, no servant would ever be addressed by their first name. They were always Jones or Grimshaw or whatever the surname might be. One footman, who was blessed with the name Davenshaw, was required to change his name to Reynolds, as it was considered unsuitable for a “livery” to have the same nomenclature as the family.

This name nonsense was swept away by the time the nineteen twenties dawned. Lady Margaret knew everybody’s first name, and she always used it. Except for the butler, who remained Mr Sharpington, the cook who was Mrs Greaves, and the housekeeper Mrs Roscoe. The old snobberies lingered longer “downstairs”, than they were allowed to in the salons of the house above. Sometimes there would be parties like in the old days. But extra agency servants would have to be brought in specially, as the smaller permanent staff could not be expected to cope with the additional workload.

Lady Margaret never married. The guns of The Kaiser had taken as much toll on the upper classes as they had on the footmen and gardeners. So there were just not enough suitable gentlemen around to wed all the aristocratic young “hopefuls”. A son of a newspaper magnate did express an interest, but his suit did not prosper. He was just not of the right class to be marrying a lady who could trace her ancestors back to the twelfth century. He later allied his millions with an American from New Hampshire, (a much more suitable match for him really).

When the Second World War broke out in 1939 Davenshaw Manor was converted into a convalescent home for soldiers that had been wounded in the service of King and Country. The Louis Quinze furniture was stored in the stable wing, and iron framed beds and comfortable sofas took its place in all the grand rooms. Lady Margaret, who was now in her early forties, used to come round and sit by the soldiers beds to listen to their stories of battles fought and sweethearts left behind. She sometimes had to speak comforting words to them when the same sweethearts wrote to break off relations because they could not face the prospect of being tied to crippled life partners. Talking to the soldiers, and mixing with the nurses and the doctors who staffed the home, gave the lady of the manor a greater insight into the lives led by the legions of ordinary people that she would have only encountered before when they were serving at her table or laying out her clothes for some grand ball or other. Her attitude towards those, she once thought as her inferiors, moved even further from the lofty disdain felt by her parents. She never ceased to be “the Lady” though. The consciousness of rank was just too embedded in her being for that. Those around her still felt it about her and, even though the world was being turned upside down by war, most of the old courtesies of position were still observed. She might call a nurse or a housemaid Mabel or Kate, but they still all addressed her as “Your Ladyship”, or Lady Margaret. It was just that a new kindness started to underline all the old practices.

Time and tide wait for no man, or aristocratic lady

After the war in the nineteen fifties, the staffing levels in the great house were reduced even more than they had been in the twenties and thirties. Work that had once been done by seven housemaids was now done by a “daily” with a vacuum cleaner. Electric heaters replaced the coal fires, thus reducing the need for staff even more. Mr Sharpington died and the position of butler died with him. When Mrs Greaves and Mrs Roscoe retired to live out their lives at the seaside, there were no more resident servants left to call Lady Margaret "Madame", or even "Ma’am".

Age came upon Lady Margaret Davenshaw, even as the dust accumulated on the Louis Quinze furniture and the weeds started to choke out the flowers in the overgrown gardens of Davenshaw Manor. Some investments that she had made in Argentinian lead mine shares had failed very badly and a large portion of the family estate had been sold to pay off the banks. By the nineteen eighties even the “daily” with the vacuum was a thing of the past. The lady of the manor lived entirely on her own. One concession had been made to the modern age. There was a telephone system with extensions on every floor, and on the landings. These had been installed on the urgings of Mrs Roscoe, who had visited her old mistress and been appalled by the conditions that she found her living in.

“At least this way you can call for help your Ladyship, if you have an emergency” the concerned old servitor had said.

This brings us back to the start of our story. The very old Lady Margaret was making her way slowly from the servants ‘hall, which was the sole room she occupied during the day to her old bedroom on the second floor. But the stairs, which were not very well maintained these days, had a loose board. This night the old lady stepped on the neglected timber, which shot up and propelled her back down a flight of stairs. Her ninety three year old left leg made a cracking sound as it fractured. The pain was agonising. She did just manage to drag herself over to the landing telephone and call an ambulance. When the paramedics arrived they had to break down the big front door to gain access. When they asked her name she faintly said “Lady Margaret Davenshaw”. They called her “Margaret”.

At the hospital, after her leg had been plastered, she was put into an iron framed bed in a ward that included male and female patients. Lady Margaret had never shared a sleeping room with a man in her entire life. Now she had old men with open backed hospital gowns coming over to her bed to stare at her. The nurses were kind, and they did their best to see that all their patients were comfortable. But they did not know anything of the old courtesies. They called her “Margaret”. One of them even addressed her as “Marge”.

The elderly deserve their dignity. They have earned it

It is a problem often found in the modern world, that people are too much addicted to addressing each other by their first name. When I was growing up the rule was that a married woman was always referred to as Mrs, unless you had gone to school with her, or she was a relative. Then you could call her “Margaret” or “Kate”, or whatever. It was an accepted convention, and as such everyone was comfortable with its use. Now, in our over democratic age, everybody tries to be friendly first, and fewer people get addressed with the old formality. This often causes problems for the elderly, and is especially irksome to them when they are ill or in hospital. A lady or a gentleman, who have all their lives been used to being called Mrs or Mr Jones, can feel profoundly uncomfortable and stripped of dignity, when they find themselves called “Gertie” or “Stan” by some over familiar stranger who is giving them a bed bath.

This is the situation that Lady Margaret found herself in. As I said previously, she had never been a snob. Indeed kindness and the consideration of the feelings and welfare of others had always been a feature of her character. The house by the sea, that Mrs Roscoe and Mrs Greaves had retired to, had been a gift from her. But she had been brought up, and lived all her life, as a lady. The shock of being routinely addressed in a manner, that she felt stripped her of dignity, brought on feelings of depression that left her unable to fight when a hospital borne infection assailed her frail body within a week of admission. The last words she heard before slipping into the final coma were “poor old Maggie can’t have long to go now”. It was the ward sister who was talking to a staff nurse.

When ladies walked The Earth

More by this Author


Comments 35 comments

L.L. Woodard profile image

L.L. Woodard 4 years ago from Oklahoma City

What a sad ending for Lady Margaret; well-written hub.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks for reading L L Woodard. Sadly a lot of our elderly end up the same way.


dadibobs profile image

dadibobs 4 years ago from Manchester, England

Very touching piece christopher, as always very well thought out and displayed.

Great work :)


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks dadibobs. I'm glad that you "get it".


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I'm not really sure how to respond to this story. It's well written, but there is something lacking. Unlike dadibobs, I don't "get it".


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi Austinstar.

The point of the story is a problem that is found in many institutions where elderly people are looked after. Because older people are of a different generation, their manners, and the way they expect to be addressed, is often different from how those who are looking after them would speak to them. For instance you might feel that you are being friendly by addressing a lady, who all her life was called Mrs Jones, as Cathy. But to her that would be disrespectful. These are the things we need to remember. Lady Margaret is an extreme example, but she illustrates the problem. All her life she treated people with kindness and consideration, but she was a Lady. She felt she was, and was used to being treated as such. That is why it was such a shock to her system to be addressed as Marge. When I write a story, I try to empathise with my characters. Sometimes I may agree with their attitudes. Other times I disagree. But I always try to understand how the character would feel. That is how I believe Lady Margaret would feel in a modern hospital environment. That is what I wanted to convey.

I hope that makes sense to you.


50 Caliber profile image

50 Caliber 4 years ago from Arizona

Sir Christopher, a quite nicely written essay leaning to the way we should most likely humble ourselves to those we don't know. It strikes me as a reflection of my military raising and later training. As a child if you wanted to keep your mouth from being slapped to the side of your head, it was Mr.,Mrs., when in doubt Ms. and on, being raised by a Marine. I then was, later on dubbed a Marine which is a life time position as was the Lady of your piece here. Times certainly have changed, seemingly rudeness rules the day, people don't bother to as much as introduce themselves as to first and surname and ask and you are? while extending the hand. We seem to have lost the unspoken rule of respect.

I rather enjoyed this reading as having listened to your voice on your videos, I was able to hear you speak in my mind as I read this, which really added to the power of the written word.

Thanks for entertaining me this morning.

Peace,

Dusty


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

It does make sense. But I think there is not enough evidence in this particular story to support how she "feels". It is presented in an objective way. I would like to see more emotion. Does she cry when people demean her when they call her Marge? Does she despair? Perhaps she sees the familiarity as a major social disfunction (as opposed to a fact). Is there any way she can convey her feelings to the staff at the nursing home? Has she accepted her fate as is or will she fight to the end?

I know this is a good story and worthwhile to tell, but I just want to see more emotion, more depth. Is this scenario going to befall everyone or is there a way to make it better?

I may be rambling and I may be critiquing too much, but I know you can write better than this. Please don't be offended. I'm just saying what I feel. Take it for what it's worth.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks Dusty. Sometimes the old ways are best. We dont have to crawl to people to show them respect. I sometimes feel uncomfortable, when in company if I am not introduced. I was always taught that introductions werfe part of good manners. There is something very awkward about having to listen to see if you can catch someone's name, because they have not been formally introduced. You can end up feeling that you are not really part of the group that way.

I am glad you enjoyed this story. I was trying to make a serious point in a not too fussy way.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Austinstar what you are failing to get in this story is that Lady Margaret is not of the "wearing their heart on their sleeve" generation. She is more from the "never complain, never explain" brigade, and would die rather than make a public spectacle of herself by protesting or weeping copious tears. I think her behaviour in hospital is exactly what you should expect after reading the account of her life up to that point. If I had portrayed her as crying and teeth gnashing at the end of the story, I would be betraying her character as painted in the rest of the tale. Therefore I feel that the ending follows on perfectly from all the foregoing passages. I dont see the neccessity to change one word.

Thanks for the critique. I am not even slightly offended. But I feel that you need to consider the person that Lady Margaret was, before expecting her to behave differently than she did.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

I'm sure you know your character much better than I. I have treated many patients of that age and they do tend to be demure. I just don't want them to be. I want them to rage against the night! No matter how frail or sophisticated. Death sucks.


drbj profile image

drbj 4 years ago from south Florida

What I believe you are saying, christopher, with this story is that Lady Margaret was born a Lady, lived as a Lady and would have preferred to die a Lady (in her own home) as opposed to being in hospital surrounded by strangers and addressed familiarly. She was not accustomed to those circumstances. Whether it was right or wrong, that was her background and the circumstances of her life.

I became immersed in your story and hoped that somehow the Lady Margaret could pass on with the dignity she was accustomed to. Voted up!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi Austinstar.

Especially for you, I have written this additional paragraph. It is not the official ending of the story. I prefer to stick with the stark realism of the earlier version. But I think it is fair to give an alternative to those, who like you, might like a better finish for the brave old lady.

Enjoy.

"It was Mrs Roscoe who answered the telephone in the house by the sea. Because all her family had died, Lady Margaret had nominated the two old servants as her official next of kin. There was a note to that effect in the handbag that she always carried, and that had been brought in the ambulance to the hospital. The old housekeeper, and the cook Mrs Greaves, got a train that brought them to the town where their elderly employer lay. They were absolutely shocked when they saw the condition that their old friend was in. (She was regarded as a friend by both the old ladies, especially since she had used almost the last of her capital to set both of them up in their seaside residence). What shocked them worse was, not so much that she was in a mixed public ward, but that a lady that had all her life been treated with respect, as a Lady, was now being addressed by all the nurses as “Margaret”, or sometimes even “Marge”. It was obvious to both Mrs Roscoe, and Mrs Greaves that this over-familiarity was distressing to the elderly aristocrat, although they both knew that she was of the class, and age, that would never make a fuss.

While Mrs Greaves sat by Lady Margaret’s bedside holding the sick old lady’s hand, and shooing away any of the elderly male patients who wandered too close, Mrs Roscoe sought out the hospital administrator. This is what she said to her.

“Do you realise that my elderly mistress lived through two world wars, that she sat by the beds of soldiers who had suffered terrible injuries for their country, giving comfort to them, and inspiring them with her strength, so that they could make the best effort possible to recover. Do you further understand that these wounded heroes, never for one moment forgot that they were being helped by a real lady, and would never for one moment forget to treat her as one. If these injured servicemen knew that it was good manners to call her Lady Margaret, why when she is suffering herself should she be subjected to the disrespect that she is receiving in your hospital”.

The administrator bowed his head in shame. He straightaway phoned down to the ward. Stern words were spoken to the ward sister about treating the patients with the appropriate dignity. The sister had discreet words with the ward staff, and she left a note in the ward log book, so that the other shifts would be appraised of the situation as well. When the word filtered down to all the nurses and orderlies, that they had a real Lady in their hospital, the level of respect that Lady Margaret was treated with markedly increased. “Marge” was heard no more. It was obvious to the watchers by the bedside, however that she was sinking, but in a final act of kindness towards her old mistress and friend, Mrs Roscoe placed in her hand a photo of the drawing room at Davenshaw Manor, complete with the Louis Quinze furniture. A faint smile was on the lips of Lady Margaret Davenshaw as she slipped peacefully into her final coma.

I wonder what she was remembering".


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks drbj for your appreciation. Your kind heart, and that of Austinstar have moved me to pen an alternative ending for Lady Margaret. You will find it in my comment above.

I will allow everyone to choose the version that suits their sensibilities best.


Austinstar profile image

Austinstar 4 years ago from Somewhere in the universe

Loved it! No one should have to die alone, unloved and unrespected. Now I know Lady Margaret is at peace. Thank you.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

You evidently have such a kind heart Austinstar. How could I do otherwise than respect your wishes?


nemanjaboskov profile image

nemanjaboskov 4 years ago from Serbia

This is great Chris! I didn't expect of you to go and write an alternative ending for the story, but that was incredibly thoughtful of you.

Much like you, I prefer the original ending, as it seems to be more realistic.

Thanks for a wonderful and touching story!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi nemanjaboskov.

I ended up feeling sorry for my own character and guilty about the death I had given her. At least, if she managed to cause such controversy in the comments, she must have been pretty well drawn in the first place.

It makes me feel that I am starting to get the hang of this writing game.

Thanks be to you for your very kind comments.


nemanjaboskov profile image

nemanjaboskov 4 years ago from Serbia

I think that this has been a gross understatement from you, Chris! I think you got the hang of the writing game a long time ago, and so many of other Hubbers share my opinion - and I'm saying this from reading your hubs and the comments made related to your writing...


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks Nemanja.

You are pretty good at writing yourself. I hope we get to read a lot more of your hubs in the future.


Wesman Todd Shaw profile image

Wesman Todd Shaw 4 years ago from Kaufman, Texas

You're awfully good at creating characters! Little details like furniture brand names and such - excellent!

I have to wonder how much sociology you've studied...but then again I'm not certain that applies even.


lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 4 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

Having taken care of many elderly people of all classes, I totally got it. My heart breaks when distinguished elders are given such demeaning treatment in institutions. Non distinguished elders as well.

As I mentioned to you, my granny has had a tough time of it. She is 82 and in the last 6 months has fallen, fracturing her back and needing surgery, then had a knee replacement which caused her to be in a nursing home rehab center for a month. She came home and we were off for our usual 6 month stay in Florida for the winter. We only had grandma to load in the van but no, she had to fall backwards as we were walking out the door, and break her hip. No Florida for us this year. She had to have emergency surgery and another month in the nursing home rehab. Of course, I stayed day and night both trips to rehab. I was disgusted at the neglect and abuse of the elderly. My granny is not royalty by any stretch, but she is however from fighting Irish stock. Needless to say, she was treated like royalty. She really let those nurses have it. My grandma's name is Gladys and she always joked that it was Glad ass. Her screen name is happy bottom. She's a character. As you can imagine, she didn't mind not being addressed as Mrs. by the staff.

Very well written story. I really enjoyed it. Now can you re write for me, that Lady Margaret DID share a bedroom with a man? One of the soldiers, perhaps? It would make it juicier!!! Just kidding. But I was rather sad to learn that she never enjoyed that experience. (maybe she was a lesbian) that would be even juicier!


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks for reading Wesman. I'm not sure that I could even define sociology, let alone study it. I usually just start a story, and the characters and situations seem to form themselves.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi lisadpreston. Your granny must be a great lady. She certainly seems to have a great spirit.

As regards to Lady Margaret, and her love life, I can only say that so far as I know for certain, she never shared a room with a man. During the nineteen thirties, however, a young gentleman stayed in one of the outlying cottages at Davenshaw Manor. He was there to advise on some changes that were being made to the gardens, and he needed to spend quite a lot of time with Lady Margaret, as she was employing him.

Normally in great houses, one of the kitchen maids would bring refreshments to any workers on the estate, or they would be invited to eat in the servants hall. But the strange thing about this handsome fellow, is that Her Ladyship always brought the food out herself. This was very unusual behaviour. Sometimes the bees would be gone to their beds by the time she returned alone to the house. Old Phelps,(the gardener), told me that his mistress sometimes skipped across the lawns on her way back to the manor. I am not saying that there was any inappropriate behaviour happening between Lady Margaret and the virile young visitor. But a job, that was supposed to last a month, went on for over three.

When the young man left in the autumn, it was noticed that Lady Margaret was rather quiet and pensive for a month or two.

I will leave you to draw your own conclusions.


lisadpreston profile image

lisadpreston 4 years ago from Columbus, Ohio

Ahhh ha. I knew it!!!! I feel so much better now that my assumptions are true. I can truly lay the dear woman to rest now. She really was a true lady! Thank you for that.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Yes. I hope Lady Margaret can rest in peace now also.


Nell Rose profile image

Nell Rose 4 years ago from England

Hi, christopher, this is something that funnily enough struck me this week. I was watching tv and an old lady was being interviewed about something and just for a second when the interviewer said, well daphne etc, I thought, what ever happened to Mrs. smith? for example? when did we start to lose our respect for older people by calling them by their first names? especially if the person asking was about 20? so yes I get it completely, wonderful story that said it all, cheers nell


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi Nell.

When I was growing up in Ireland, in the country, all the older married women were always addressed, and referred to using "Mrs". You would know the first names of the husbands. Formality didn't apply so much in the case of the men. But there were loads of women that I don't, to this day, know what there first names were. You just never heard them. When the sons of these women got married, you always knew the first names of the daughters in law, and called them by that name. I think the old formality was dying out in the later generation.

The only way that you could ever find out the names of the older women was if you got a card or a letter from them. They would sign their first name, because it was considered very ignorant to sign yourself "Mrs" or "Mr".

Those were the days.


Reynold Jay profile image

Reynold Jay 4 years ago from Saginaw, Michigan

Just had to see what you are up to these days and this one looks good to me. It's nice to know she was a great gal.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Thanks for reading Reynold. This story is actually based on a real situation.

When I lived in Ireland there was a very old lady who lived on her own in a castle near me. She was the last of a family that had been there for over three hundred years. This old woman did really live in the servants' hall. Her living arrangements gave me the germ of an idea for Lady Margaret.


Nellieanna profile image

Nellieanna 4 years ago from TEXAS

I've acquired the series , "Downton Abbey" on DVD and can't wait for season 3. I'm passionate about Jane Austen's novels, too, in which the lifestyles of those cut-and-dried times of the sharp division between classes and the rules governing t hem play central roles. Your story adds another scenario and personality to what I've gleaned from those, as well as other examples, some vexed from both or just one of the sides of the class divide.

My feeling is that personal dignity and respect are best expressed for the person and inspired in others by what a person really IS and authentically radiates. But surely being accustomed to consistent deference with 'no-exception' treatment by those around one would instill the expectation of being so treated by people and would produce a shock if it were not forthcoming.

In my American fashion, being a lady and/or dignified isn't felt to be a life sentence never to deviate or be silly or casual. It's more a pervading unselfconscious aura, which your Lady Margaret surely exuded all along.

I really enjoyed this hub. I feel like I know her a bit. Thanks for presenting it! You could make a full-length story of it.


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi Nellieanna.

"Downton Abbey" was brilliant. I hope they make loads more of them. Lady Margaret was based round the characters from that series.

This hub caused a slight "Kerfuffle" among our Hub community. Not everybody liked the way the story ended. I ended up feeling a bit guilty myself. I gave it an alternative ending. It's in the answer to Austinstar, above. Also to please lisadpreston, I let Lady Margaret have a love affair. You can see that in the comments section as well.

I think she could grow into a book if I am not careful.

Thanks again for reading Nellieanna.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Christopher, Lady Margaret's story made perfect sense to me, but then 75% of the blood coursing through my veins is English.

At the risk of adding to the "kerfluffle", in order to to "get it" one has to understand Lady Margaret's story was written by a Brit steeped from birth in the strict division between the classes. With rare exceptions, one's station at nativity never changed throughout one's life. The social separation between upstairs and downstairs was very real, and to a great degree still exists today. Members of the aristocracy were/are brought up to never show the emotions Austinstar thinks were lacking here. It simply was "not done".

There's no equivalent to the Brit class system on this side of the Pond, although the American rich believe the size of their bank account entitles them to look down on anyone NOCD (Not of Our Class, Dear), just as they did in the days of plantations and slavery. Over here, however, such behavior comes off as fake and contrived, which it is.

I thought the original version of Lady M's story was perfect, but the added paragraphs in the comments section do add another dimension that makes her even more endearing.

Yes, she **could** grow into a book if you're not careful, so here's hoping you throw caution to the winds and write away! ;D


christopheranton profile image

christopheranton 4 years ago from Gillingham Kent. United Kingdom Author

Hi JamaGenee.

Thanks for reading. I'm not actually British, but Irish. The conciousness of class and position is just as strong in Ireland as in Britain mind you.

Lady Margaret was typical of the type of real lady that we all hope should exist. Whether such a type ever really existed, or not, may be a matter for debate.

I was always brought up to believe that real ladies and gentlemen were not snobs. They might be condescending, but in a nice way only. This was typified in a story that was told about the Duchess of Windsor, (Wallis Simpson). When she first went to Balmoral with King Edward VIII she ran her fingers over the mantlepieces, to see if the servants were doing their work properly.

This behaviour is supposed to have really shocked The Duchess of York and Queen Mary. They would never have dreamed of disrespecting the people who worked for them by doing such a thing. They were real ladies. Unfortunately for her, that was something poor Wallis could never become.


JamaGenee profile image

JamaGenee 4 years ago from Central Oklahoma

Christopher, please accept my sincere apologies for calling an Irishman a Brit!

The story about Wallis Simpson is a perfect example of her lack of class (aka "good breeding"). Similar to the boorish clod who bragged about having several college degrees in a roomful of people who, through circumstances beyond their control, weren't able to finish high school.

I don't recall where I saw "the true definition of class", but it went something like: "True class is the ability to make those around you feel comfortable in spite of differences in financial circumstances".

Or as a favorite used to say: "Class is knowing when to keep one's mouth shut". ;D

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