ce petit coeur
They weren't necessarily nicer, but the class difference was more pronounced and less questioned. You were more or less born into it, and while the same is true today to some degree, you don't have the gentry vs. the working class where pretty much nobody ever switches unless a girl is "fallen" (basically has sex or is thought to have been compromised before marriage and gets kicked out of her family) or a family completely loses all of their wealth, which rarely happened, and in that case the family members still had options like going into trade or becoming a governess or something so they didn't have to enter servitude.

Downton Abbey is set right at the time where this was all falling apart, like web the series starts everyone is scandalized that Matthew is a lawyer or whatever because he's not a ~real rich person~. But after the war and shit things start to come undone and women are getting jobs and marrying poor people and all kinds of shit. Contextually it's just not a comparable situation, the point of wealth on the show is to show the class breakdown during that period.