Palm Beach News

Downton Abbey in West Palm Beach: City Offers Free Classes on How to Serve the Rich

If you've always wanted to learn how to polish silver, fold linens, or serve a six-course dinner to spoiled rich kids, here's your chance.

The City of West Palm Beach is offering free, totally unironic classes on "How to Work in a Wealthy Home." You too can scrub the bathtub and serve British tea, just like the hard-working hotties on Downton Abbey.

For two hours every Thursday, the city-funded Vickers House holds classes on vital subjects such as "Duties in the House or Estate," "Answering the Phone," "The Household Directory," "Greeting Guests," and "Polishing Sterling." Tomorrow's class, which will be the sixth week of the nine-week course, covers items such as "China Care" and "The Everyday Table Setting."

The class flier features a cartoon of a guy wearing a butler outfit and holding a serving platter.

It may sound like London circa 1912, but this is Palm Beach, and Downton Abbey is alive and well here. The mansions on Billionaire's Row can't operate without good hired help.

"It's a big industry here, and you can really make good money," says Vickers House director Lela Jordan.

Vickers House, a division of the mayor's office, offers free services to the poor: help with résumé and tax preparation, HIV testing, English as a Second Language classes, and Greyhound tickets for homeless people to rejoin their families in other parts of the country. The classes on how to be a maid, butler, or housekeeper are part of the agency's job-training services. About ten to 18 clients attend the classes, which are offered about four times a year, Jordan says.

Instructor Kim Kepler has been working in Palm Beach homes her whole life, according to Jordan. She brings in table linens and china, so students get a real hands-on experience. Plus, "she has a lot of fun stories" about dealing with clients, Jordan says. 

Of course, those not desperate for a job cleaning billionaires' toilets are also welcome to attend. According to the flier, you can "learn how to set a lovely dinner table and refine your personal etiquette." How nice.