The Domestic Servants of Downton Abbey: Part 7-The Stables and Travel

Horse: At Downton Abbey, this animal has been relegated to recreational and ceremonial purposes since the introduction of the automobile. So now let's just get back to Lady Mary and Kemal Pamuk on their hunting ride, shall we?

Horse: At Downton Abbey, this animal has been relegated to recreational and ceremonial purposes since the introduction of the automobile. So now let’s just get back to Lady Mary and Kemal Pamuk on their hunting ride, shall we? Of course, we all know what happens to Kemal Pamuk in this episode. So the Turk shall enjoy this day while he can.

Now while I could easily put the stables jobs with the grounds and the hunt, I decided to put it with travel since horses used to be the primary modes of transportation besides walking. Not to mention, this was the main reason stables were built. Of course, the stable staff doesn’t play much of a role on Downton Abbey since the show takes place in the early 20th century, which was a time that horse transportation was slowly being replaced by the new automobile, especially large estates where the aristocracy was among the first car customers (before Henry Ford came up with the idea of the assembly line, look it up). So cars were also used as status symbols, which is also very much the case today. Yet, this doesn’t mean that horses are out of the picture yet, since they were still needed for activities like hunting, ceremonies, special occasions like weddings and funerals, emphasizing large wealth, and of course, horse racing. You may not see the stables or the stable staff much at Downton Abbey but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist on the estate. Nevertheless, the Crawleys do spend a significant time traveling whether it be on their other estates, throughout England, London, Scotland, or abroad. And while certain servants go with the Crawleys while they’re away (giving other servants time off when they’re all gone), there are also other servants associated with traveling as well as in the stables. Sometimes aristocratic families could stay at one place anywhere from a few days to up to a few months. Of course, some of them may be obsolete but they’re listed anyway. So for your reading pleasure, here are the servants associated with the stables and travel.

The Stables

Stables: At Downton Abbey, it's a place you never see since it doesn't much play a big role in the Crawleys' lives anyway. This picture is probably as close as viewers will ever get so use your imagination, please.

Stables: At Downton Abbey, it’s a place you never see since it doesn’t much play a big role in the Crawleys’ lives anyway. This picture is probably as close as viewers will ever get so use your imagination, please.

1. Master of the Horse or Clerk of Stables
Function: Oversees all equine and groom activities including feed and overall care of the horses. Responsible for checking conditions of roads and inns, manages details of carriages, boss to coachman, grooms, postilion, and anyone else connected to the stables or coaches.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure he had decent pay and possibly his own quarters like a small cottage.
Status: At least a Senior Servant, but since he works outside the house, he probably has none of their privileges.
Hours: At least regular working hours but could be longer, especially during times of travel and special events.
Typical Candidate: Must be male and know how to work with horses. Possibly someone who came from a tenant family or grew up on a farm.
Characters who had this job: Well, as far as we know Downton Abbey doesn’t have this job, since Master of the Horse is more of an 18th century position anyway and it’s become a mostly ceremonial role in the monarchy.

2. Head Groom or Stable Master
Function: Responsible for running the stables as well as for the horses and grooms. Duties include arranging riding lessons or training as well as insure a groom is “on call” in case a member of the family wants to ride. Not to mention, he had to arrange the horses’ feeding and veterinary needs. Also responsible for the special needs of aged or retired horses as well as for maintenance of the stables and ordering supplies.
Pay and Benefits: Annual salary of 30-50 pounds ($3,100-$5,300) as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff but didn’t have the same privileges as similar members in the house would. Addressed by last name and could either report to the Estate Manager or Butler.
Hours: Usually from early in the morning to late at night.
Typical Candidate: Usually a seasoned man who’s spent considerable time working with horses or as a groom rising through the ranks.
Characters who had this job: Currently none, but Downton Abbey has stables so someone on the estate must have this job. However, this isn’t a show about horse stable staff since they don’t have much to do with the family anyway.

3. Stud Master
Function: Manager for the master’s breeding stock. Arranges, records, and approves desired animal matings whether it be hounds, horses, or house pets as well as consults the registries afterwards. May oversee the maintenance of the estates stables and kennels as well. If one isn’t present, duties go to the Stable Master or Master of the Hounds.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure he was well compensated as well as received room and board.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff, addressed by last name, and reported to Stable Master.
Hours: Depended on the animals he was working with.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who knew about animals which could be either a groom or someone who grew up on a farm.
Characters who had this job: Though no named characters have this job at Downton Abbey, it’s possible that someone does at the estate. However, the stable staff aren’t the show’s main focus though.

4. Horse Trainer
Function: Responsible for training horses for riding which includes feeding, exercising, and talking to them to get used to human contact.
Pay and Benefits: Usually received a modest sum of money as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff, addressed by first name, and reported to Stable Master.
Hours: Worked from early morning to late at night.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who’s experienced with horses, particularly a groom.
Characters who had this job: None of the show’s characters have this job but this someone at Downton Abbey may have this one. The stable staff isn’t the focus of the show.

5. Groom

Groom: At Downton Abbey, this job goes to a guy who probably doesn't have much screen time. But he's there because his main job is taking care of the horses and that he had to bring one out to match Lady Mary's riding habit.

Groom: At Downton Abbey, this job goes to a guy who probably doesn’t have much screen time. But he’s there because his main job is taking care of the horses and that he had to bring one out to match Lady Mary’s riding habit.

Function: Responsible for taking care of the horses which includes feeding and watering them, brushing them down, exercising them, saddling them, and giving them medicine when they take ill. Cleans carriages, harnesses, as well as the stables for the master’s morning inspection.
Pay and Benefits: Annual salary of 15 pounds ($1,600) as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff and occupied a similar position at the stables as a maid or footman would in the house. Addressed by first name and reported to the Stable Master.
Hours: Usually from early in the morning to late at night.
Typical Candidate: Usually a young unmarried man at least in his teens who at least possesses significant knowledge of horses.
Characters who had this job: Well, no characters on the show have this profession per se but since Downton Abbey has stables, the estate is bound to employ a team of them. But the life of the stable staff isn’t the main focus on the show.

6. Stable Boy
Function: Responsible for assisting the grooms with cleaning the stables and other duties relating to equine care. Is basically a groom in training.
Pay and Benefits: Annual salary of 6-12 pounds ($640-$1,500) depending on age and ability as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff and addressed by first name. Reported to Stable Master.
Hours: Usually from early in the morning to late at night.
Typical Candidate: Usually a young boy in his early teens from the lower classes. May be as young as 10 years old.
Characters who had this job: Though no characters on the show have this job, it probably does exist on Downton Abbey since it has stables. However, the stables aren’t the main focus of the show.

Travel

Sports Car: At Downton Abbey, this is the wedding present the bridegroom gives to himself after finding himself heir to a title and estate as well as marrying the resident Earl's daughter. Of course, we all know from Season 3 that this doesn't end well.

Sports Car: At Downton Abbey, this is the wedding present the bridegroom gives to himself after finding himself heir to a title and estate as well as marrying the resident Earl’s daughter. Of course, we all know from Season 3 that this doesn’t end well. Just wait when this new dad’s joy ride home from the hospital turns into a one way trip to the morgue. Yes, that luxury car will crush you if overturned in the event of a collision.

1. Coachman

Coachman: At Downton Abbey, this guy doesn't get as much as he used to before the automobile but he's still employed for special occasions like weddings and funerals. You don't think they'd let Lady Mary and Matthew have to leave a church in a car, don't you?

Coachman: At Downton Abbey, this guy doesn’t get as much as he used to before the automobile but he’s still employed for special occasions like weddings and funerals. You don’t think they’d let Lady Mary and Matthew have to leave a church in a car, don’t you?

Function: Responsible for driving the coach. If there was no Clerk of the Stables or Stable Master present, he’d usually manage the stables, the grooms, and make sure the coach was in good working order. May assist the grooms with cleaning the carriages. Other responsibilities may vary depending on number of footmen or whether there was a second one on staff.
Pay and Benefits: Annual salary of 40 pounds ($4,300) as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff, addressed by first name, and reported to the Stable Master.
Hours: Usually called upon as needed and during travels but this depends on his responsibilities to the household.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who’s spent considerable time with horses as a groom.
Characters who had this job: This job doesn’t exist on Downton Abbey since it’s clear that nobody in the Grantham house travels by coach anymore. Yet, an estate of that size would’ve had at least 2.

2. Second Coachman
Function: Assisted the coachman with driving the coach with his chief duty on nightwork.
Pay and Benefits: Less than the coachman but he didn’t do too badly either as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff and addressed by first name. Reported directly to Coachman or Master of the Stables.
Hours: Usually the night hours while traveling but could vary depending on responsibilities.
Typical Candidate: Usually a man who’s spent a considerable amount of time as a groom.
Characters who had this job: This job doesn’t exist on Downton Abbey since the coachman job is now obsolete with the advent of cars. However, if the show took place while the Dowager Countess was a child, there would’ve been one.

3. Postilion
Function: A rider who mounted on one of the coach’s drawing horses (usually one of the left ones. If there was no coachman, then the front left one).
Pay and Benefits: Annual salary of 12 pounds ($1,500) as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff, addressed by first name, and reported to Stable Master or Coachman.
Hours: Worked as needed, particularly while during travels.
Typical Candidate: Usually a young man or boy, especially one light enough not to cause the horses strain.
Characters who had this job: This job doesn’t exist at Downton Abbey for the Granthams no longer use coaches. Thus, one would be employed only by royalty.

4. Running Footman
Function: Responsible for running ahead at the cavalcade, prepare a path for the coach, and prepare the inn for his master’s arrival. Would also engage in running contests to win wages for his master.
Pay and Benefits: Well, I’m sure it was the same as a footman’s.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff and addressed by first name. Status was about the same as footman. However, this was a pretty dangerous job.
Hours: Well, whenever the master was traveling as far as I could tell.
Typical Candidate: Usually a young unmarried man who was said to be tall and hot. Yet, he’d also have to be fast on his feet.
Characters who had this job: This job doesn’t exist on Downton Abbey since coaches are no longer the standard mode for transportation. Also, it was obsolete by the early 1800s.

5. Chasseur
Function: Have responsibilities and duties similar to footman and bodyguard, but more or less the latter except looking pretty. Still, on a coach, he’d be the guy riding shotgun.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure they received a generous compensation from the master as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Lower Staff and addressed by first name. However, may have the status of mercenaries. Wear a sword and a feathered hat.
Hours: Worked a 24/7 job basically protecting the family.
Typical Candidate: Usually mustachioed men who spent a significant amount of time in the military as well a stand out in appearance.
Characters who had this job: This job doesn’t exist on Downton Abbey but may in the royal household or embassies. However, this was more of a position on the European continent, not England.

6. Courier
Function: Responsible for serving as a guide to the family while traveling by riding in front of the carriage carrying an important person as a form of protection.
Pay and Benefits: I’m sure they received some fair compensation and possibly room and board.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff and addressed by his first name.
Hours: Depended on the household’s needs but mostly during travels.
Typical Candidate: Usually a horseman who familiar with the geography, money, language, and other customs of a foreign country. Most likely a foreigner.
Characters who had this job: This job doesn’t exist at Downton Abbey since they were mostly used during travels and may have been rendered obsolete.

7. Chauffeur

Chauffeur: At Downton Abbey, this is a job you give to a young radical Irish Nationalist who'll introduce the boss's daughter to left-wing politics and driving before romantically pursuing and eventually running off with her. Just keep him a way from a soup tureen.

Chauffeur: At Downton Abbey, this is a job you give to a young radical Irish Nationalist who’ll introduce the boss’s daughter to left-wing politics and driving before romantically pursuing and eventually running off with her. Just keep him a way from a soup tureen.

Function: Responsible for driving, repairing, and maintaining the family cars.
Pay and Benefits: Annual salary of 40 pounds ($4,300) as well as room and board.
Status: Member of the Upper Staff and addressed by last name. May or may not dine with the rest of the servants. Nevertheless, in the days of Downton Abbey, this was a very high demand job (which may explain why Branson wasn’t simply fired for being an Irish nationalist with socialist beliefs or trying to run off with Lady Sybil).
Hours: Worked from early morning to late at night or as needed.
Typical Candidate: Usually a young man who was a skilled mechanic to deal with breakdowns or tire punctures en route (which happened a lot in the earliest years of the automobile. Still, Branson would’ve fit the bill perfectly). A retrained coachman also fits the bill. In the Jim Crow Era, it was one of the few skilled professions that was acceptable for African Americans in some parts of the US.
Characters who had this job: Tom Branson starts out with this job at Downton Abbey in Seasons 1-2. However, there are other chauffeurs who also serve the Granthams.

8. Travel Groom or Porter
Function: Responsible for packing and unpacking their employer’s belongings while traveling. If there were no hotels present, they’d usually set up camp as well as walked with animals like oxen or horses. Sometimes waited on the master hand and foot.
Pay and Benefits: While they accompanied their master on the trip, they were relatively cheap to hire.
Status: They had relatively low status since they were usually made to carry things and hired from groups most Europeans considered inferior anyway.
Hours: Depended whether the master was staying in a hotel or going on a safari. If the latter, then early in the morning to late at night.
Typical Candidate: Could be of any age, gender, or physicality but outside Europe and Americas, they’re usually people of color. Usually from poor backgrounds.
Characters who had this job: This job doesn’t exist on Downton Abbey. However, you see plenty of fictional examples in almost any work set during the British Empire.

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