Page 27. " delightful rows of old timber-fronted houses "

Corner of Silver and Minster Street, Salisbury
Creative Commons Attribution Share AlikeCorner of Silver and Minster Street, Salisbury - Credit: Peter Facey
These half-timbered houses in Salisbury most likely date from the fifteenth or sixteenth century, given the overhang, the shape of the houses and the angle of lean in toward the roadway.


Page 28. " I have seen in encyclopaedias and the National Geographic Magazine "
Mount Logan
Public DomainMount Logan - Credit: Gerald Holdsworth

A  journal offering high quality analysis and photography of the planet Earth, the National Geographic Magazine was first published in 1888, nine months after its founding members formed a society in Washington D.C. "for the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge". Alexander Graham Bell, the inventor of the telephone, was one of the founder members and became its President from 1898 to 1920.

Mount Logan, the highest peak in Canada, was discovered during the first National Geographic expedition (1890-91).

Page 31. " the attempt of the Hayes Society to devise criteria for membership "

The Hayes Society never actually existed.  It is a device employed by the author to illustrate the importance of the high regard in which an excellent butler could be held by his peers.

Page 31. " a considerable influence over much of London and the Home Counties "

The Home Counties are those which surround London: Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire, Essex, Kent, Surrey, Middlesex and Berkshire (since 1963, the latter two have been excluded).

The reason for the name "home" counties may be their proximity to Parliament in Westminster, or it may be connected to the Home Circuit Counties, the jurisdiction of Circuit Judges in the counties surrounding London.

Page 31. " we may as well adopt the proprieties of Bolshevik Russia "
Soviet Union stamp, 40th anniversary of the October Revolution, victorious march of the October Revolution, from a placard by I. Toidze
Public DomainSoviet Union stamp, 40th anniversary of the October Revolution, victorious march of the October Revolution, from a placard by I. Toidze - Credit: Leonid Dzhepko

The Bolshevik Party (or majority party) came to power in Russia after the Russian Revolution of 1917, known as the October Revolution.  Founded by Vladimir Lenin, they ultimately became the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.


Page 40. " was killed during the Southern African War "

The "Southern African War" is the Second Boer War, or Anglo-Boer War (1899-1902), between the British Empire and the two Afrikaaner republics of the Orange Free State and the Transvaal.

The causes of the war are complex, but the principal issues were the enormously valuable gold mining industry in the Transvaal, under Afrikaaner dominion but operated largely by British and other "outsiders", and the British Empire's ambition to unite all of South Africa under British rule. 

The battle in which Steven's brother died might have been Paardeberg (18-27 February 1900). The British army suffered massive losses and the date became known as Bloody Sunday.

Page 43. " Continentals - and by and large the Celts, as you will no doubt agree - are as a rule unable to control themselves "
English Gentleman
Public DomainEnglish Gentleman - Credit: rafananda
Irish Ceili Dance
Creative Commons AttributionIrish Ceili Dance - Credit: Jesse Millan

Stevens' prejudice was not uncommon at the time.  The Celts – the Welsh, Irish and Scots – were thought incapable of dignity by many in England.


Page 49. " I am still haunted by those vowel sounds and those uniquely ungrammatical sentences "

Alice White has clearly not been trained in Received Pronunciation (RP), the formalised speech pattern more senior servants like Miss Kenton and Stevens would have adopted. There are no deviations from grammar and sentence structure in RP, as there might be in regional dialects, and it immediately identifies a speaker as having a particular upbringing or background.

The emphasis on RP faded in the 1970s, when the BBC began hiring presenters with regional accents.  Only 2% of British people now use Received Pronunciation, the other 98% speaking in a wide range of dialects, accents and idioms, reflecting the diversity of the British Isles.