I've been watching a great deal many British period films lately, and having done so has made me grow acutely aware to the nuance of the word gentleman. Once upon a time, a gentleman wasn't just some ordinary man off the street, as we might likely apply the word to nowadays, oh no; the gentlemen I watch typically
- "go out to the country" to one of their palatial country homes
- have an "allowance" from some vast checkbook, and spend precious little time working
- have many servants to dote upon them and many sashes about their houses to summon those servants
- typically walk about in exquisitely manicured gardens and parks
- always have a "club" to relax in, and "society" dinners to attend to
From what I can tell, a gentleman isn't necessarily of aristocracy, or nobility; the primary characteristic of them all is that one needs to keep up the appearance of not having to work, even if one does. And, what I've also noticed is that in the many films I've watched, up to the Second World War period, this distinction of gentleman is always well observed by all characters present.
So, if you'll excuse my long-winded digressions, I have a simple question: Is this usage still current anywhere in British English? Are there certain groups of people who still observe that not everyone is a gentleman, and that it requires a particular lifestyle?