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Remembering the ’20s smart set

Features | By Simon Williams

Butler c. 1922 CC BY-SA 4.0

As Belgravia begins on TV, Simon Williams recalls the London of Upstairs, Downstairs

These memories of filming Upstairs, Downstairs at 165 Eaton Place in the heart of Belgravia are dedicated to the residents of that address. These people were plagued for years by tourists eager to glimpse the Bellamys’ fictional home. Their hall was piled with fan mail from around the world. None of the poor suckers had any idea that the house we used was down the street at number 65. The set designers simply added a ‘1’ in front of it. ‘Resting’ is the euphemism for unemployment we actors have to live with; there’s even a gravestone in Highgate that reads ‘Actor Resting’. In one of my resting periods, I enrolled as a freelance cleaner with Pimlico Domestics. They would dispatch me to muck out the homes of Belgravia’s gentlefolk; hawk-eyed women in housecoats would put me to work. As an Old Harrovian who had survived the fagging system, I was...

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