In 1936, Sir Hallam Holland and his pretty young wife Lady Agnes return from a diplomatic posting abroad and take up residence at 165 Eaton Place, formerly the home of the Bellamy family but vacant for several years. By chance, they ask Rose Buck, herself a long-time servant in the Bellamy household, to find them a suitable staff. In the end, Rose herself joins them as the Housekeeper. The 1930s are a difficult time in England. The Depression has taken its toll with high levels of unemployment. Fascism, which has become popular on the Continent in Italy and Germany, is also finding followers in the UK with Oswald Mosely's British Union of Fascists. As the new staff begin their daily work, the downstairs family begins to take shape.