Author’s Note: After all the hype yesterday, the weather people came on at 10:00 last night to say we’d have very little snow. Of course, they had to go on and on about the lows and why the storm shifted. End result? We only got about two inches of the light, powdery variety. I’m not complaining, but I feel sorry for all those schools who cancelled for today when it wasn’t necessary. That’s a lost day, and the kids don’t even have enough to play in! Enough about weather!
If you watch “Downton Abbey” or any other TV show from an earlier, wealthy era, don’t you get caught up in the grandeur? In our area, there are huge mansions, built in the late 1800s in the suburbs of Philadelphia called the Main Line. Often when the family died, or had financial difficulties, these huge estates were sold. I know of two religious orders who purchased such homes and turned them into motherhouses for the nuns and colleges. Another was sold to a retirement home and it kept the main house, but added many connecting spaces.
Here in the Garden State, most of the huge estates are in the north, where they were closer to NYC. I saw some photos recently of some of these mansions, and they were majestic. And when we visited Rhode Island, we always toured those magnificent “cottages” in Newport. Also, the mansions in North Carolina are breathtaking. Most of the homes were unique, and all of them were extremely opulent.
I love to imagine myself living in those days at one of those gorgeous homes. Of course, I’d have to have all the domestic help that accompanied these domiciles, but I hope I would have been a kind homeowner. What we see of the servants at Downton wasn’t always the case. Many of the servants were abused and very underpaid for all the work they did. Most were uneducated, but had to learn how to adapt to the strict rules of high society.
Before this season of DA began, there was a show explaining the etiquette of Victorian and Edwardian times. Now my mother taught me how to set a proper table, and the lessons stayed with me, but we never measured the distance between settings or the space between the edge of the table and the plate. Servants not only needed to know that, but they also had to learn the purpose of every fork and spoon. There was even an etiquette concerning to whom one spoke at the table! And don’t get me started on the dressing routines!
They certainly were different times when wealth abounded in the upper classes. Yet, as outmoded as the rules and ways of living are, I think I still would like to have had the opportunity to be the Lady of the Manor!