chapter  1
Pages 4

In the early twentieth century the open display of wealth was an essential element in the upper-class style of life. Wealth, birth and manners constituted the three prime qualifications for commanding obedience and respect from others. Although many of the rich already wintered abroad, most of their money was spent in Britain on highly visible comforts such as country houses, personal servants and lavish entertaining. And although death duties existed, they were not severe enough for tax evasion on a massive scale to have developed. Consequently we know more about the distribution of wealth in the Edwardian population than in contemporary Britain.