Thursday, 17 April 2014

Sepia Saturday 224: The Servants at Quantock Lodge

Sepia Saturday by Alan Burnett and Marilyn Brindley

The Sepia Saturday image prompt this week shows a woman watering her artichokes while a man, presumably her husband, stands with a pipe firmly clenched in his mouth and holding a shovel. He's perhaps pretending that he's just finished the weeding, but is clearly not dressed for the task. My contribution to the meme this week is a group of servants, including gardeners and groundsmen, who may be in their best clothes, but they don't look quite as out of place in the garden.

In something approaching the manner popularised by fellow Sepians Tattered + Lost and Mister Mike, I will attempt a deconstruction and/or reconstruction of the occasion.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Quantock Lodge Servants, 79/August, Cabinet card portrait
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

This early cabinet portrait mounted on plain card was a fortuitous purchase on eBay a few years ago, lucky in that such items often attract furious bidding which very quickly puts them totally out of my reach costwise, but if I remember correctly I was the only one to show any interest in this. It is unusual not only for the subject matter, a large group of servants from a big house, but also that the location and date are written on the card mount.

Quantock Lodge is a mansion built as a holiday residence in the Gothic revival style during the mid-19th century for Henry Labouchere, 1st Baron Taunton (1797-1869), and described by Nocolas Pevsner as "a large rather dull Tudor house ... Gothic Stables, a specially crazy Gothic Dovecote and a big Gothic Lodge." Although Baron Taunton's second wife inherited the estate on his death in 1869, his eldest daughter Mary Dorothy Labouchere (1842-1920) lived there after her marriage in 1872 to Edward James Stanley, D.L., J.P. (1826-1907), later a British Conservative politician from 1882 until 1907. By August 1879, when this photograph was taken, the Stanleys had a son and a daughter, both born at St George Hanover Square, London, and a second son was born on 30th August, also in London.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Cabinet card portrait by Monsieur Bernard's Prince Imperial Photographie Francaise, 8 Alphington St, Exeter
Image © and collection of Brett Payne

Rather than using printed card mount, the photographer has used a small paper label with his details pasted on the back of the card.

Photographie Francaise.
8, Alphington St. EXETER.

Copies may always be had.

I've been unable to find records of a photographer named Bernard working in either Exeter or Somerset. However, there was a Daniel Bernard of Austrian origin living at 12 Smythen Street, Exeter in April 1881 who described himself as picture frame dealer. That he had links with Somerset is demonstrated by the birth of his two children at Bristol in 1875 and 1878. Bernard's use of the name "Prince Imperial Memorial" was particularly opportunisitic, considering that Napoléon, the Prince Imperial, had been killed in Zululand only a couple of months earlier, and the "Prince Imperial Memorial Fund" set up in mid-June.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Detail of Quantock Lodge servants

This group of servants - 10 male, 9 female and a young lad - is large, indicative of a fairly wealthy household, which the Stanleys certainly were. Mary's mother and paternal grandmother were members of the Baring banking family. The census record of Quantock Lodge, Over Stowey, Somerset for 3 April 1881 (p1 & p2), only 20 months after the photograph was taken, shows 21 servants - 8 male, 12 female - as well as a governess and a young boy, with three additonal male employees living in married quarters nearby. In order to compare the census list with the people we see in the photograph, I have extracted their details:

Eleanor E. MAJOR22Governess
Annie REID40Butler's wife (Visitor)
Caroline FARLEY49Housekeeper
Emile WELLS30Cook
Elise REDFLEUR31Ladies Maid [sic]
Mary MAY25NurseHousekeeper, 1891
Thomas REID45Butler
Walter REID37Valet
William DAVIS28Under Butler
Thomas WALKER30Footman
James GRANDFIELD25FootmanUnder Butler, 1891
Henry WATTS322nd Coachman
James STACEY23Groom
George LUCAS22House Servant
Mary A. PRICE26Kitchen maid
Alice E. TOFFS19Kitchen maid
Elizabeth VINCENT22House Maid
Gerald A. ELLIS8Scholar (Nephew)
Clara PACKER31Head Housemaid
Hannah HUTCHINGS28Still Room Maid
Elizabeth WALTER282nd Housemaid
Jane HOOPER193rd Housemaid
Caroline THORNE184th Housemaid
William ISTED39Head Coachman
Archibald BOUSIE60Head GardenerHead Gardener, 1871
John MARSHALL56Head Gamekeeper

The boy was actually Mrs Stanley's nephew, Gerald Arthur Ellis, but I've included him in the extract because he is, rather oddly, listed among the servants. Gerald's father Major-General Sir Arthur Ellis was Equerry to the Prince of Wales, and Gerald himself became a Page to Queen Victoria.

Image © and courtesy of BBC
Status and heirarchy of servants in a Victorian house
Image © and courtesy of BBC News Magazine

I can't give an authoritative source for this, but I have the impression that census listings for such households generally show the servants in order of seniority. It is interesting to note that the head gardener had been there since 1871, while two of the servants were still working at Quantock Lodge a decade later in 1891. In those ten years Mary May had worked her way up from Nurse to Housekeeper, while James Grandfield had undergone a similar promotion from Footman to Under Butler.

The Butler and the Housekeeper, Quantock Lodge

The two central figures in this tableaux, also probably the oldest, are almost certainly the most senior male and female servants in the household, the butler and the housekeeper. The butler looks to be in his forties. Thomas Reid was shown as 45 in the 1881 census, but 46 or 47 when he died at Quantock Lodge in February 1884 - depending on source - and is therefore a good candidate. His wife Annie is described as a visitor in the census, and was therefore not a regular member of the household. After her husband's death, she continued to live nearby in Taunton, described in the 1891 Census is "living on her own means."

The housekeeper at Quantock House in April 1881 was Caroline Farley. She gave her age as 49, but I've been able to track her through the remaining census records from 1841 to 1901, and it appears that at the time the photograph was taken in the garden of Quantock Lodge in August 1879, Caroline was probably in her mid-fifties. The housekeeper in the photograph looks a little older than this, perhaps in her sixties, but there are no older women in the census list, so this may be Caroline Farley's predecessor - it's difficult to be sure.

The Valet, Quantock Lodge

Thomas' younger brother Walter Reid was also at Quantock Lodge in 1881, aged 37 and employed as a valet. Judging by his clothing, his age and the similarity of their facial features (in particular ears, nose and mouth), I think he may be standing in the back row, second from right, with his right hand resting with some degree of familiarity on the shoulder of a woman seated on the butler's right, and possibly his left hand on the shoulder of another young woman. Walter was the executor of his brother's will dated April 1884, in which he left a personal estate of £480. I've been unable to find any record of Walter after this date.

The Under Butler and the House Servant, Quantock Lodge

Judging by their clothing, their ages and their proximity in the lineup to the butler, I believe that the two young men standing in the back row, directly in line with the butler and the housekeeper, are probably the Under Butler (right) and male House Servant (left), listed in the 1881 census as William Davis (aged 28) and George Lucas (aged 22). George Lucas was an inmate of the Dorchester Union Workhouse at Fordington in 1871, his mother having died when he was very young.

The Two Footmen and the 2nd Coachman, Quantock Lodge

The double-breasted coats with large brass buttons worn by all three young men standing at the right hand end of the back row makes them likely to have been footmen and coachmen. In 1881 Thomas Walker (30) and James Grandfield (25) were the two footmen, while Henry Watts (32) was the Second Coachman. It is difficult to tell whether that is the order they appear in the photograph.

The Cook and the Head Housemaid, Quantock Lodge

Unfortunately these two are in a part of the photograph which has been overexposed, with a resulting loss of definition. From their clothing, seniority dictated by their position seated to the housekeeper, and their ages, I believe them to be the Cook (left) and the Head Housemaid (right). In 1881, these positions were filled by Emily Wells (30) and Clara Packer (31). I tracked down Emily/Emma Wells to the magnificent Petworth House in Sussex in 1871, where she was employed by the 2nd Lord Leconfield as a Still Room Maid, the most junior servant in the household.

The Governess and the Lady's Maid, Quantock Lodge

There are only two women dressed in dark clothing, both of them fairly young, and they must, I think, be the Governess and Lady's Maid. The young woman seated on the grass at the far left of the group has a substantial hat, and appears to be of an appropriate age to be the 22 year-old Governess, Eleanor E. Major. Ten years later she was working as a Governess to the family of her previous employer's sister, Mina Frances Ellis, and was still employed as a governess in 1901. The woman holding a dog on her lap may be the 31 year-old Elise Reafleur (or Redfleur), the Swiss-born lady's maid to Mary Stanley.

The Nursemaid, Quantock Lodge

Five months prior to the sunny summer morning when Monsieur Bernard visited Quantock Lodge, the Honourable Mrs. Stanley placed an advertisement in the Morning Post, a conservative daily London newspaper "noted for its attentions to the activities of the powerful and wealthy," looking for a "superior Nurserymaid to help in the care of two children (see below). Pregnant with her third child, she was obviously anticipating the extra work load. It would be nice to think that Mary May, the 25 year-old "Nurse" listed in the 1881 Census, who was still with the Stanleys ten years later at Quantock Lodge as housekeeper, came to them in response to this advertisement. My feeling is that she is seated at far left, between the butler and the governess.

Advertisement in the Morning Post, 18 March 1879

In 1898 Mary Ann May married the under-butler James Grandfield and the couple moved to Kensington where James found work, now as a butler. The 1901 Census shows the Stanley household without a butler. James was still working as a butler in London in 1911 and died in 1919, while Mary died in 1939.

The Kitchen and House Maids, Quantock Lodge

The three remaining women in the group, standing immediately behind the butler, housekeeper and cook, look to be in their early to mid-twenties, and could be either kitchen or house staff. Unaccounted for in the census are two kitchen maids, four house maids and a still room maid. Presumably some were either too busy to outdoors engaging in such frivolities as a photographic portrait (read camera-shy), or absent on the day.

The Head Gardener, Quantock Lodge

The man standing at the extreme left of the group may be the Head Gardener, Archibald Bousie, who lived with his family in the gardener's cottage on the estate. He was born on 9 March 1821 at Markinch, Fife, Scotland and, judging by the number of credits in The Flora of Forfarshire by William Gardiner, published in 1848, he was a very knowledgeable and active botanist as a young man. Mr Bousie was employed from c. 1848 by Henry Labouchere, Lord Taunton, as the head gardener in the famous gardens laid out by Capability Brown and Humphry Repton at Stoke Park in Buckinghamshire. He won numerous medals and prizes for his fuschias, rhododendrons, calceolarias, fancy pelargoniums, figs and desert apples in flower and fruit shows at the Crystal Palace, Royal Botanic Society and Royal Horticultural Society between 1855 and 1863.

After Stoke Park was sold in 1863, Bousie moved to Quantock Lodge where he worked in a similar capacity, first for Lord Taunton and later for his daughter and son-in-law, the Stanleys. He died at Over Stowey on 20 December 1910, aged 89 years, after having passed on the reins at Quantock Lodge to his son David Alexander Bousie.

The Head Gamekeeper and the Groom, Quantock Lodge

As we get further down the list, I feel on more shaky ground regarding identifications. The man with a large stick and an even more impressive beard seated on the grass is dressed as an outdoor servant, but I don't believe he can be the Head Coachman, so I think it more likely that he is a gardener or a gamekeeper. The 1881 Census shows one John Marshall, aged 56, Head Gamekeeper, living near Quantock Lodge and it seems likely this is him. The man seated at far right, holding onto a dark-coloured poodle, is probably the groom, shown in the census as James Stacey, aged 23.

The Young Lad, Quantock Lodge

Finally, we have the well dressed young lad sitting cross-legged in front of the housekeeper and the cook. There is only one boy shown in the census, Gerald Ellis, nephew of Mrs Stanley, but in August he would have been only six years old, and this chap looks to me to be around 9 or 10, at least. The Stanley's eldest son Henry Thomas Stanley was a year younger than Gerald, so it's not likely to be him either. I suspect that he was a local lad employed as a Hall Boy.

Image © and collection of Brett Payne
Quantock Lodge servants

Possible identification of individuals in Quantock Lodge Servants photo:

1. Archibald Bousie, aged 60, Head Gardener
2. Walter Reid, aged 37, Valet
3. Unidentified Kitchen or House Maid
4. George Lucas, aged 22, House Servant
5. Unidentified Kitchen or House Maid
6. William Davis, aged 28, Under Butler
7. Unidentified Kitchen or House Maid
8. James Grandfield, aged 25, Footman
9. Thomas Walker, aged 30, Footman
10. Henry Watts, aged 32, Second Coachman
11. Mary May, aged 25, Nurse(maid)
12. Thomas Reid, 45, Butler
13. Caroline Farley, aged mid-50s, Housekeeper
14. Emily Wells, aged 30, Cook
15. Clara Packer, aged 31, Head Housemaid
16. Elise Reafleur/Redfleur, aged 31, Lady's Maid
17. James Stacey, aged 23, Groom
18. Eleanor E. Major, aged 22, Governess
19. John Marshall, aged 56, Head Gamekeeper
20. Unidentified Hall Boy

Of course I understand that most readers will have decided, probably well before getting to this point, that my IDs are at best tentative, and in the worst case, rather unlikely. My aim at putting this list out in the cybersphere is to generate some interest and possibly further information about the servants who worked, perhaps not straight away, but hopefully in due course.

For more gardening of the sepian variety, I can recommend visiting the other Sepia Saturday contributers.


  1. I'm sure none of the servants would have expected anyone to pay this much attention to their photograph, especially 135 years later!

    1. Well perhaps not, but that's what photo-sleuthing is all about, isn't it?

  2. Fantastic Research - I hope this initiates contact from somebody connected to persons in the photograph

    1. and my husband has just reminded we we stayed in the Quantock Hills Youth Hostel in 1993, which no longer exists as a youth hostel

    2. I'm hoping the same, genepenn. Just putting the information out there on the web will hopefully attract the attention of someone googling their ancestor some day.

  3. Wow, that's quite a journey through the ranks of those in the picture - but I'll bet it was fun, else you wouldn't have done it. The name of the gamekeeper, John Marshall, caught my eye for a moment because I am distantly (and I DO mean distantly!) related to William Marshal, The Good Knight, but none of his sons had legitimate male offspring, so no connection there. Besides, that would have been quite a come-down from Regent of England to gamekeeper. :))

    1. Well in that case we must be related, by marriage. My wife, too, is descended from William Marshal, through his daughter Maud who married High Bigod.

      It was a fun exercise, although I think perhaps I've done that one to death now.

    2. Well there's a bit of a small world for you. My line to William Marshal goes thru Richard de Clare, son of Gilbert de Clare & Isabel Marshal, Maud's younger sister. I'm aware a 'few thousand' other folks could claim the same. Still & all, it's fun knowing how far back & to whom your roots connect - no matter the distance.

  4. I enjoyed watching you pick apart the clues of dress and assumptions about age. I noticed a couple men had their hands on some women's shoulders, so I guessed there was a connection. I love this stuff!

    1. It's all too easy to make assumptions about those connections, but it was fun when I found the marriage of the housekeeper to the under-butler.

  5. A brilliant case of photo history deduction, Brett. It matches your presentation of the hierarchy of people in wedding photos. It really is an occupational photo but without the usual props of tools of their trade, though the clues are in their dress. The arrangement of the staff makes perfect sense, very much like how a group of military officers or factory workers would be posed. It's astonishing how many households maintained such large teams of servants. I suppose it's a mark of pride to have them photographed too.

    1. Yes, I've seen many such households when going through census records, but I don't know how common it was to have them photographed. Judging by the response to another in my collection that I posted a few years back, and which was used in a documentary film a couple of years ago, not very common.

      My personal interest is that my gg-aunt worked in such a household in her late teens and early 20s, prior to getting married in 1894, and I'm very interested in trying to track the relationships that she made with fellow servants through the years, via her birthday book which I have. Yet another project which has languished ...

  6. Great analysis of everyone in the photo, whether or not you've got it entirely correct or not, it's a very good effort! Would be wonderful if someone's descendant found this online and could enlighten you further - although you probably know more than they do anyway.

    1. I had more success with some than others. I suspect most of the young women left the service when they married, and they are the hardest to track down, so it's the descendants of those that I'm particularly hoping will find this photo.

  7. A very detailed study. And it has reminded me that I haven't followed up in the Censuses on a great uncle who supposedly was a Gamekeeper. We have photos of him suitably dressed and with dogs at his feet.

    1. I'd like to see that photo of the gamekeeper. Did you see my article about gamekeepers some time ago? If not, you'll find it here.


    2. Thanks for the reference. I enjoyed the post on gamekeepers and also the part on the Duke of Edinburgh. I recently did some reading on his trip to Australia when I found my grandmother's great-grandfather proposing a get-well toast to the Duke at a specially convened public meeting.

  8. Very interesting and detailed study. I hope a descendent gets in touch with you!

  9. I love all the work you have done for this post Brett. I hope it entertains you as much as it does us.

    1. Of course, Alex, or I would not be doing it week in, week out :-)

  10. It is always a mystery waiting and wanting to be solved, in all these old photos, and assumption or not, for me, it's all the little back stories and new undiscovered stories that are born in every detecting moment we inspire to conquer!

    1. Yes, it's the back story of every image that grabs me too.

  11. That’s quite a bit of sleuthing you did there! What an assortment of servants, but I am struck by the unidentified lad’s grumpy expression; perhaps he didn’t want to be there! Talking of your illustrious ancestor William Marshal, there was an excellent BBC2 TV programme about him about three weeks ago, which you may be able to download somehow. It was called ‘The Greatest Knight’.

    1. Sadly, the BBC don't permit downloading of such series from outside the UK unless you go to the website by subterfuge.

  12. This was wonderful! I felt as if I was reading a summary for a BBC show yet to be made. The idea of how the relationships of these people effected other people in years to come would make a fascinating story. Wonderful "deconstruction."

    1. Yes, it would, and I wish I had a photograph of my gg-aunt and her fellow servants when she was in service in 1891. What a deconstruction that would be!

  13. Enjoyed reading that. Some years ago I recorded the gravestone inscriptions in Over Stowey so I checked for matches. There are none, but one might not expect a servant to have a headstone in the churchyard perhaps. There is a young Bousie, died aged twelve in 1887.

    1. Oh thank you, Stowey. I came across mention of his son who died when young, so that must be him.

  14. Brett, are you still active on this site? Would like to talk to you about the postcard


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