The Domestic Servants of Downton Abbey: Part 6-The Grounds and the Hunt

The Grounds: Part of Downton Abbey not much is paid attention to, since the staff there doesn't pay any attention to since they don't work in the house or play any role in the lives of the family. Yet, their main job is just making the estate look pretty and protecting game from poachers so the family can hunt and impress visitors.

The Grounds: Part of Downton Abbey not much is paid attention to, since the staff there doesn’t pay any attention to since they don’t work in the house or play any role in the lives of the family. Yet, their main job is just making the estate look pretty and protecting game from poachers so the family can hunt and impress visitors.

The outside staff isn’t the main focus on Downton Abbey nor is it in any fiction pertaining to a grand British estate. Sure they may not work in the great house or interact with the family as much but it doesn’t mean they’re outside working their tails off. After all, the grounds at Downton need their share of caretaking, too. I mean someone must be doing all the gardening, weeding, planting, mowing, and landscaping to keep the place pristine for visitors. If Downton didn’t have anyone who didn’t tend to the grounds how else could the Granthams have garden parties, hunts, afternoon strolls, dog walks, bazaars, cricket matches, and other outdoor activities. And who’s going to tend to the vegetables, flowers, and exotic plants in the greenhouse? Of course, as for the hunt, there has to be a staff for that, too. I mean who else is going to take care of the hounds and terriers as well as keep them together? Nevertheless, hunting was a frequent activity on large estates like Downton Abbey in which a bunch of rich guys usually grabbed their guns, saddled on, horseback, and rode away to catch some game, which could be a fox, pheasant, or deer. Sometimes there were staff that threw up the pheasants for the aristocrats to shoot at. And a lot of times the members of the hunting party would be totally wasted. Of course, the horseback riding bit, I’ll get to in the next post since it goes well with travel. So without further adieu, here are the jobs associated with groundskeeping and hunting in the world of Downton Abbey.

The Grounds

Garden: At Downton Abbey, this is the place for the village vs. estate cricket match as well as the bazaar. Yet, during a garden party, it's customary that everyone dress in white and don't step on the flowers.

Garden: At Downton Abbey, this is the place for the village vs. estate cricket match as well as the bazaar. Yet, during a garden party, it’s customary that everyone dress in white and don’t step on the flowers.

1. Head Gardener
Function: In charge of the hot houses, green houses, and conservatories on the estate. Supervises the gardeners as well as seasonal harvest employees as well. Escorted visitors on grounds and acted as a guide.
Pay and Benefits: Since impressive gardens were important as impressing guests, his annual salary could be as much as 30-50 pounds ($3,100-$5,400). Also had a private cottage on the estate.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff, but didn’t have the same privileges as those inside the house would’ve like the Stable Master. Addressed by last name and reported directly to the Estate Manager or master.
Hours: From sunrise to sunset as well as depending on the seasons.
Typical Candidate: Usually an experienced gardener demonstrating a knowledge of flowers, vegetables, fruits, and landscape design.
Characters who had this job: Well, there’s an off-screen character named Mr. Brockit who’s said to hold this job at Downton Abbey.

2. Game Keeper
Function: Responsible for maintaining the local populations of the estate so the master and guests would have game such as pheasant to hunt. Cracks down on trespassers and poachers. May even have his own staff.
Pay and Benefits: Annual salary of 30-50 pounds ($3,100-$5,400) as well as his own cottage on the estate.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff, addressed by last name, and reported to the Estate Manager.
Hours: Usually was on a 24/7 job with small breaks in between to fulfill basic needs.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who knows how to breed wild game and is familiar with game laws.
Characters who had this job: Well, there hasn’t been a character on the show who’s had this job, but it probably does exist on Downton Abbey seeing that Lord Robert owns large tracts of land and goes hunting. However, outside the show, Rubeus Hagrid had this job at Hogwarts in the Harry Potter series. Of course, the creatures he has to look after aren’t the kind of animals a normal gamekeeper would be familiar with, especially in the Forbidden Forest.

3.  Gardener

Gardener: At Dower House, this job goes to the guy later fired due to suspicion of stealing a letter opener the Dowager Countess received from the King of Sweden. Thanks to Mrs. Crawley's interference, he was later reinstated.

Gardener: At Dower House, this job goes to the guy later fired due to suspicion of stealing a letter opener the Dowager Countess received from the King of Sweden. Thanks to Mrs. Crawley’s interference, he was later reinstated.

Function: Responsible for the care and maintenance of the estate’s or house’s grounds, horticulture, and produce. Duties may depend on the size of household or staff. On smaller estates, may be the resident handyman as well. May be supervised by Head Gardener, sometimes not.
Pay and Benefits: Well, depends on the size of the estate or whether he was the only one there. Either resided on the estate or had his own cottage.
Status: Well, since a gardener usually worked on smaller estates, he probably didn’t have a place on the servant hierarchy. If part of a team, he’d usually be a member of the Lower Staff, addressed by his first name, and reported directly to the Head Gardener.
Hours: Worked from sunrise to sunset at least as well as depended on the seasons.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who had an extensive knowledge of plants, particularly fruit trees and flowers.
Characters who had this job: Well, there was one of Rose McClare’s boyfriends named Sam Thawley from Season 4 (but he’s from the Easingwold Estate, though Downton Abbey has to have some). The Dowager Countess also had at least a couple at Dower House and suspected one of them of stealing her ornate letter opener. Joseph Moseley’s father worked as one as well. Outside the show, a great fictional example is Samwise Gamgee from The Lord of the Rings who’s from a whole family of them that worked for Bilbo Baggins (yet, “gardener” is actually more like his official job title).

4. Grounds Keeper

Grounds Keeper: At Easingwold Estate, this job goes to the nice strapping young man who sweeps a marquis's daughter under a servant's guise. Of course, he never had a chance with her due to Edwardian class differences of the day. Yet, maybe would've been better off with Daisy. After all, she may run a farm and he may know something about landscaping.

Grounds Keeper: At Easingwold Estate, this job goes to the nice strapping young man who sweeps a marquis’s daughter under a servant’s guise. Of course, he never had a chance with her due to Edwardian class differences of the day. Yet, maybe would’ve been better off with Daisy. After all, she may run a farm and he may know something about landscaping. But, man, he sure can dance.

Function: General laborers under the Head Gardener. Responsible for everything from planting trees to cutting grass as well as other tasks relating to landscaping.
Pay and Benefits: Annual salary of 8-16 pounds ($850-$1,700) depending on age and ability as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff, addressed by first name, and reported to Head Gardener.
Hours: Worked from sunrise to sunset.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man at least in his teens or possibly younger.
Characters who had this job: Possibly Sam Thawley from Season 4, though he was referred to as a, “gardener.” Still, Downton Abbey has a lot of these since it’s a large estate.

5. Park Keeper
Function: Cares for the deer at the estate.
Pay and Benefits: Sizeable annual salary as well as his own cottage on the estate.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff, addressed by first name, reported to Game Keeper.
Hours: This is a 24/7 job.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who knows quite a bit about deer.
Characters who had this job: While there are no characters with this job at Downton Abbey, this doesn’t mean that the Granthams don’t have one. I mean, they sponsor hunts.

6. Yard Boy
Function: Fetched wood and aided gardener in utilitarian affairs.
Pay and Benefits: Besides room and board, not much pay.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff, possibly among the lowest positions. Addressed by first name and reported to Head Gardener.
Hours: Worked from early morning to late at night.
Typical Candidate: Usually a boy who could be as young as 10, maybe even younger.
Characters who had this job: This job doesn’t exist at Downton Abbey.

The Hunt

The Hunt: At Downton Abbey, this is an event in which the Granthams and a lot of rich folks load up their guns, saddle up on horseback,  and ride on wit the dogs to shoot some prized game. Not sure if any of them get wasted before then but there's a lot of comedy sketches that play off the alcohol bit.

The Hunt: At Downton Abbey, this is an event in which the Granthams and a lot of rich folks load up their guns, saddle up on horseback, and ride on wit the dogs to shoot some prized game. Not sure if any of them get wasted before then but there’s a lot of comedy sketches that play off the alcohol bit. Nevertheless, when Lady Mary takes part, is a source of a lot of sexual tension.

1. Master of the Hounds

Master of the Hounds: At Downton Abbey, this job goes to the guy who's name you don't know and probably gets barely any screen time. Yet, he's in charge of the pack and gets the hunt started so Lady could have her 3 way love triangle with Evelyn Napier, Matthew Crawley, and Kemal Pamuk.

Master of the Hounds: At Downton Abbey, this job goes to the guy who’s name you don’t know and probably gets barely any screen time. Yet, he’s in charge of the pack and gets the hunt started so Lady could have her 3 way love triangle with Evelyn Napier, Matthew Crawley, and Kemal Pamuk.

Function: Operates the sporting activities of the hunt, maintains the kennels, and has the final say in all matters of the hunt on the estate.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure that he received a generous compensation as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff, addressed by last name, and reported to the Estate Manager.
Hours: Worked from early morning to late at night.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who has experience with hunting and dogs.
Characters who had this job: Though no named characters have this job at Downton Abbey, it’s possible someone does at the estate. However, he’s part of a staff that’s not the show’s main focus.

2. Kennelman
Function: Looked after the hounds and assured all tasks were completed when pack and staff return from hunting.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure they were well compensated as well as received room and board.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff, addressed by first name, and reported to Master of the Hounds.
Hours: Worked from early morning to late at night.
Typical Candidate: A man who’s had experience working with dogs.
Characters who had this job: While no named characters have this job at Downton Abbey, it’s possible someone on the estate does. However, the hunting staff aren’t the main focus on the show.

3. Huntsman
Function: Responsible for directing the hounds during a hunt. Carries a horn to communicate with the hounds, followers, and whippers-in. May fill the role of Kennelman or Master of the Hounds.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure they received a handsome compensation as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff and addressed by last name. Reported to Master of the Hounds.
Hours: Worked as long as needed as far as I know.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who’s had experience with dogs and hunting.
Characters who had this job: While no named characters have this job at Downton Abbey, it’s possible someone on the estate does. However, the hunting staff aren’t the main focus on the show.

4. Terrier Man
Function: Carried out fox control when the object of the hunt is to kill one. Controlled the terriers that may be used underground to flush out the fox.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure they received a handsome compensation as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff, addressed by last name, and reported to Master of the Hounds.
Hours: Worked from early in the morning to late at night or whenever as needed.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who’s had experience with dogs.
Characters who had this job: While no named characters have this job at Downton Abbey, it’s possible someone on the estate does. However, the hunting staff aren’t the main focus on the show.

5. Whipper-In
Function: Assistant to the huntsman whose main job was to keep the pack together as well as prevent the pack from straying.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure they received a fair compensation as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff, addressed by first name, and reported to the Huntsman.
Hours: Worked as needed.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who’s had experience with dogs and animals but not as much as the Huntsman.
Characters who had this job: While no named characters have this job at Downton Abbey, it’s possible someone on the estate does. However, the hunting staff aren’t the main focus on the show.

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2 responses to “The Domestic Servants of Downton Abbey: Part 6-The Grounds and the Hunt

  1. Check out “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” by D. H. Lawrence. A very famous book that was banned for being such a scandle that a Lady of the Manor would fall in love with the gamekeeper.

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