‘Downton Abbey’ sparks interest in Earby servants’ lives

Chairman Bob Abel, Author Stephanie Carter and historian Stanley Graham at thge launch of a previous book.
Chairman Bob Abel, Author Stephanie Carter and historian Stanley Graham at thge launch of a previous book.

Earby and District Local History Society has published Stephanie Carter’s latest book on domestic service, the tenth she has researched and written for the group.

Titled “Maids’ Tales – Life in Service in and around Earby”, it explores all aspects of domestic service.

Television series such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs have increased our interest in servants

Stephanie Carter

In her lengthy research, Stephanie has considered in the main full time live-in servants and has extended the area to Craven and Pendle, but with all stories linking back to Earby and the parish of Thornton-in-Craven.

Stephanie said: “Popular fascination with the history of domestic service grows.

“Television series such as Downton Abbey and Upstairs Downstairs have increased our interest in servants.

“Although their portrayal in these programmes is so much a thing of the past, domestic service is a vital part of our social history.”

In late Victorian times and early 20th century, you did not need to be part of the landed gentry class to have servants as prosperous businessmen or tradesmen, textile mill owners and farmers generally employed at least one domestic servant.

It is also more than likely that an ancestor in your own family was involved in domestic service at some stage of their lives. Stephanie’s own grandmother worked as a general maid for a dental surgeon before munitions factory work in World War One.

Stories in the book cover accounts of tales of love, loyalty, dishonesty and occasionally violence as the book chronicles a way of life which has now disappeared. But has it? Stephanie also explores the trend of busy housewives today employing cleaners and child minders and much sought after English butlers by wealthy Americans.

To buy the book at £10 (£13.50 with postage), contact the society at info@earbyhistory.co.uk or phone 863160. Alternatively, drop in at the Earby Community Archive Room in the New Road Community Centre on Friday mornings between 10am and 12 noon.

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