Letters to the Editor Newsletter

The Modern Butlers’ Journal, April 2018, Letters to the Editor

Steven Ferry

Letters to the Editor

Dear Editor, I thought the screenplay for Gosford Park was exceptional: It had almost non-stop dialogue that was all very good including a few almost hidden gems and jokes that I didn’t hear until my 8th time through it. The first time I saw it was on its last day in the theaters and I admired it despite not understanding much of the accent and confusing the characters. This failure to understand it bothered me, but didn’t stop me from admiring the costumes, sets, editing, acting, script, etc. Recently, I purchased a copy of the movie and cleared many words resulting in a heightened admiration for the movie. I have almost sorted out who’s who and written a glossary as best I could. The items I am particularly interested in your reviewing, because I could not find definitions that fit, are:

Bate, as in a  «He’s in a bate and I know why.» Ed: «Bate» is dated English (1850s originally) meaning «an angry mood,» from how a person feels when they are being baited or tormented. 

Cockneywhat exactly did it mean after World War I? Ed: Cockney is the dialect spoken by people from East London, or refers to the people speaking such a dialect. It meant the same before World War I. 

Jimmey/Jemmy— and was «Jemmy» a misspelling in the subtitles? «Jemmy was used as a pet form of James two centuries ago. Unless it is referring to a crowbar used by thieves for opening windows and doors—without the context, I cannot say which it might be.

Marquess/Marquis. Ed: The former is a variant of the latter, below a Duke, above an Earl. 

Still room. Ed: Three centuries ago, it was where a still was kept for the distillation of perfumes and cordials. Later, about two centuries ago, it was used by the housekeeper of a large house to store jams, cakes, liqueurs, and for preparing coffee and tea.

Table of Precedence. Ed:  Depending on the context, it would be the plan for the seating of family and guests at a formal dinner, or the seating arrangement itself, with the host at the head of the table and the guest of honor to his right, and increasingly lower ranks the further from the host. The same applied to the staff dining table, where the butler sat at the head, the Housekeeper to his left, and so on.

Is the Butler senior to the Housekeeper and the Head Cook? Ed: Yes.

Do the Housekeeper and the head cook have equal rank? Ed: Probably equal, depending on the house, with the housekeeper possibly being the more senior, but each being senior over the other staff in their own area.

I know George is the First Footman, but are the other servants who help set the table and serve dinner footmen as well? Yes. First, second, and third footmen, with an under-butler above them all.

Do I have the rankings correct for Britain? You have them all correct except for «Count.» You have it noted by»Earl» but «Count» I believe to be a German title. You may be confused because the Earl of Grantham’s wife is referred to as «Countess,» but her husband is referred to as «Earl,» not «Count.» 

Thank you, SH


«I really love your newsletters and have benefited from them immensely over the years.» DS

Ed: Thank you for taking the time to comment—the MBJ is a labor of love and it helps to know we are hitting the spot!


Dear Editor, I would like to express my interest in the internship for the Institute. My availability is from June 21st, 2018. Please see the attached graduate profile binder for your reference. AK

Ed: Thank you for your enquiry regarding an Internship, and congratulations on completing your butler training at TIBA. The only internship possibility we are aware of at the moment is at Blenheim Palace in the United Kingdom, where they occasionally have an opening for a butler intern. I would recommend that you contact them directly to find out if they have a current opening, and submit your resume to them via their website.  If you scroll further down on that page, you’ll see they mention Apprenticeships and there is a button for you to click on. Best of luck with that submission and your career.


The Institute is dedicated to raising service standards by broadly disseminating the mindset and superior service expertise of that time-honored, quintessential service provider, the British Butler, updated with modern people skills, and adapted to the needs of modern employers and guests in staffed homes, luxury hotels, resorts, spas, retirement communities, jets, yachts & cruise ships around the world.

Por Steven Ferry

Steven Ferry is chairman of the International Institute of Modern Butlers and the author of bestsellers "Butlers & Household Managers 21st Century Professionals" and "Hotel Butlers, The Great Service Differentiators." He also trains and consults for the profession around the world.