- "The Servants' Hall," said Sir Pnote , genially, to Mr Hales-Owennote , "at any one of Charles' old piles, is less a Servants' Hall than an SCR, or at any rate an MCR or GCR. Everyone's an expert in something, has taken a degree in this or is taking another in that, or is a recognised and published expert in the other thing."
''Mr'' Paul Viney BA (Exon) MBA (Bath), butler to HG the Duke of Taunton:
The Duke's ostensible and technical butler at Wolfdown. In fact, his executive officer: and, outside working hours, vice-captain to the Duke's captaincy of the District 1st XI; fellow churchwarden for the Joint PCC of the Combined Benefice and the PCC specific to Abbas church; and ducal intelligencer, His Grace' eyes and ears in the community. Dignified, wise, kindly, omniscient, omnicompetent, capable of snarking back, and possessed of several degrees and a fistful of certifications, mostly City & Guilds.
Warden, Joint PCC (Combined Benefice); Warden, SS Leonard and Mary Woolfont Abbas PCC; Vice-Captain, the Woolfonts Combined Cricket Club.
"Which was, thought Mr Viney, quite grimly and bloody-mindedly, not fucking on."
- Battle Butler: When His Grace gets stuck in to deal with minor local villainy, Mister Viney is right beside him.
- Best Friend: To Mr. Simon Kellow of the Blue Boar, and contrariwise. Which does help keep the Duke informed....
- Butlerspace: Knows it like the back of his hand. Justified and lampshaded by references to the (Truth in Television) architecture of Wolfdown, backstairs, alcoves, and all.
- Do Not Call Me "Paul": The Duke may call him, literally, "Paul": but does so only when they are talking on churchwarden-to-churchwarden terms, or Skipper (of the local XI) to Vice-Captain.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners: With the Duke.
- Hypercompetent Sidekick: Averted only because the Duke is so damned competent himself. He does augment ducal insufficiencies all the same, sometimes by discreet disobedience.
- Last-Name Basis: He's a butler. He gets the surname and a "Mister" in front of it, unless one is the Duke. Christian names are for footmen. And in the Servants' Hall and elsewhere, he is damned well "Mr. Viney" to all.
- Legacy of Service: Is part of one: Vineys have worked for the House of Fitzjames for generations. One was a footman in the eighth Duke's day (the Victorian era). Their loyalty is to the Family, of whom the Duke of the day is a mere steward for the next, and to the Estate.
- The Jeeves: Well, yes. Less a servant than an XO and 2i/c, as the Duke approvingly notes.
- Servile Snarker: Averted but only because there's nothing servile about Viney.Viney: Without asking Mr Mirza, Your Grace? Do you think that wise?
The Duke: I am not Captain Mainwaring, Viney.
- The Social Expert: Very much so: and one of the ways he balances the Duke, who has No Social Skills.
- The Spymaster: He keeps the Duke abreast of sentiment and events in the District.
- Tall, Dark, and Snarky: Tick, check, and bingo.
- They Call Me Mister Tibbs: Unless one is the Duke or a senior member of the Family, he's Mister Viney to you, not "Viney."
- Vitriolic Best Buds: In a subtle fashion, with the Duke.
Mrs. Viney,note housekeeper to HG the Duke of Taunton:
- Benevolent Boss: When she sees something hasn't been dusted adequately, she assumes the servant responsible must have been taken ill. Anything else is inconceivable.
- Best Friend: To the Cook although on a Last-Name Basis with honorifics and to Rose James, the ducally-trained housekeeper at the Rectory, who does get the occasional indulgence of having her forename used.
- Kindly Housekeeper: But not lenient. This is a subversion only in American terms: British housekeepers in grand country houses are different to the usual trope. (Perhaps a case of "Our Servants Are Different?")
- Last-Name Basis: Housekeepers are always "Mrs." And particularly in the Servants' Hall. As are cooks: and Mrs. Viney and Mrs. Woolley remain on just those terms.
- Legacy of Service: Married into the job. There have long been Vineys on staff at Wolfdown, which they see (and the Duke agrees) is quite as much theirs as it is the Family's.
- Old Retainer: There are certain standards. They shall be kept up.
Mrs. Woolley, Cook, Wolfdown House:
Forthright and occasionally skeptical mistress of the kitchens (plural) at the Duke's primary seat. Somewhat singleminded.
- Best Friend: To Mrs. Viney the Housekeeper although on a Last-Name Basis with honorifics and to Rose James, the ducally-trained housekeeper at the Rectory.
- Brutal Honesty: Not a garnish, a main ingredient.
- Last-Name Basis: Cooks and Housekeepers are always "Mrs." Particularly in the Servants' Hall.
- Nonindicative Name: She's quite sharp and not in the least woolly. And a bit dubious of wooliness (as when one of the servants from one of the Duke's Scottish holdings, down for Crispin's funeral, was retailing Highland superstition about deaths in families and Second Sight).
- Supreme Chef: Can give local gastro-hotelier Teddy Gates points. And he admits it, envyingly.
- The Clan: There are, ahem, LoadsAndLoadsOfWoolleys in the District (insert usual sheep joke), by birth and marriage alike, from Wolfdown to the Village School, and from servants and farm laborers to the white-collar classes.
Thomas Yeates (BA (Hons) Plymouth), Footman, then First Footman, now Valet and trainee Under-Butler, Wolfdown House:
Dead sexy young man who took the job because of an interest in early porcelain; wise enough to know that the Duke was not amenable to "fashion-forward" suggestions so long as Savile Rownote yet stood; fiercely protective of the Family.
- Battle Butler: Quite capable of joining a ducal expedition to catch petty crooks in the act of pillaging local Roman antiquities.
- Depraved Homosexual: Averted with bells on, and lampshaded as being averted. He's not promiscuous; he's certainly not a p(a)edo; and the Duke trusts him wholly with valeting his nephews (well, so long as he doesn't suggest fashion to them, damn it all, what?).
- The Fashionista: Manqué. And duly frustrated. The Duke is not about to dress or be dressed in anything not approved by Anderson & Sheppard.
- Has a Type: Not quite to Race Fetish standards, but he does find British Pakistanis specially attractive. Particularly in cricket whites. (Although he cannot imagine being attracted to Sher Mirza, even though everyone In-Universe notoriously is, or for that matter to the Rector (ditto): too much awe gets in the way.)
- Hidden Depths: Took the job as is not uncommon in ducal employ for the perks, including educational bursaries. He's an art historian with a specialism in early Western porcelain, and the ducal collections have, In-Universe, "most of the John Dwight porcellaneous pieces known to have been made," per Mr. Viney.
- Last-Name Basis: Was "Thomas" as a footman; became "Yeates" when he was promoted.
- Pursue the Dream Job: He signed on for the porcelain.
- Straight Gay: So much so he has trouble pulling on days away, having first to assure the other bloke that he's not just curious and won't have a Big Gay Freakout afterwards.
- Tall, Dark, and Handsome: Well, footmen are hired for their looks....
Lucy Stevens (Mrs. Robert Larence), Lady Crispin's Lady's-Maid, The Dower House, Wolfdown: note
Loyal and long-suffering lady's-maid and confidante to Lady Crispin, with Strong Views on the late and by many unlamented Lord Crispin. Daughter-in-law to the ducal riding-master and retired Chief Whip, George Larence.
- Battle Butler: Of the "protector" sort, and, obviously, the Distaff Counterpart. She runs a great deal of interference for her lady, who is, in her view, not wantonly to be bothered.
- The Confidant: Part of the job description, but undertaken seriously. She's one of the few people before and with whom Lady Crispin can drop the mask.
- Know When to Fold 'Em / Sensing You Are Outmatched: There are of course times when she cannot shield Lady Crispin from absolutely everything and everyone, regardless of whether or not Her Ladyship is in the right. Or the wrong, as when she was stroppy about Crispin's funeral:Stevens, Her Ladyship's maid at the Dower House, opened the door to find a formidable delegation who could not possibly be sent away and whom her mistress must and should see, will, or would, she, or nil she. Even His Grace might have been resisted; even Lady Veryan might have been sent away with the plea that the widow was unable just then to receive her. But Lucy Stevens [ ] was no fool. And Stevens knew, as Lady Crispin was to be made to know, that it was simply not possible to turn away Canon Potecary, Dean Blanchard, and Young Fr Campion.
- Last-Name Basis: To everyone save the most senior and nearly related of the Peerage. As a lady's-maid, she takes "Miss" regardless of marital status.
- Legacy of Service: Married on the job: her father-in-law runs the ducal stables. And identifies herself very much with her lady's interests.
- Maid: Specifically, a lady's-maid. To Her Ladyship. And thus quite high in the Staff hierarchy.
- Maid Corps: Averted. There are plenty of Staff, but not an absurd amount, whether at Wolfdown or at the other ducal holdings. So far as there is something approaching one, though, Miss Stevens is well up in the ranks and can command a fair few when wanted to come over from Wolfdown House and aid her at the Dower House.
- No Hero to His Valet: Or no heroine to her lady's-maid: averted. Miss Stevens is well aware of Lady Crispin's faults and sides with her all the same. Largely because Lord Crispin was most assuredly not a hero to Miss Stevens.
- The Reliable One: In some ways the only such in Lady Crispin's life. (She doesn't count her children: they are far too independent for her taste.)
Bernard Street BSc (Hons) Plymouth MSc Kent, Head Gardener, Wolfdown House:
Uncompromising horticultural expert of vast knowledge and Decided Views; has an MSc in Ethobotany (and still prefers to get his hands dirty).
- Battle Butler: Always happy to lend a hand, and possibly a mattock, to any bit of ducal putting-stick-about.
- Call to Agriculture: Has an advanced degree and scads of qualifications. Sticks to gardening (admittedly for one of the great country houses of England, but, all the same...).
- Crusty Caretaker: As the Duke says, there are two dread consequences to mucking the Wolfdown gardens about: Street's wrath, and the being haunted by the ghost of Gertrude Jekyll; and he's not certain which should be worse.
- It's Personal: He and Snook the sexton are mortal enemies.
- Last-Name Basis: As is appropriate to his place in the Staff hierarchy.
- Nature Lover: Averted. He knows too much about "nature" to be romantic about it.
- Old Retainer: Nature may strive for untidiness but not on his watch. Everything at Wolfdown is going to be perfect. Or he'll know the reason why, and there'll be hell to pay and no pitch hot.
Will Sanger BSc, Head Gamekeeper, Wolfdown House:
Highly trained keeper (if pessimistic), nicknamed by the Duke as "Sanglier," the Wild Boar, and acknowledged to have been capable of scouting for Lovat or guiding for Lumsden. A ferocious conservationist with a BSc in Conservation and Wildlife Management, and locked in an unending struggle with the local poacher, George Mould. Mrs Sanger is endlessly amused by him: from the touchline (sidelines).
- Battle Butler: The servant you must want with you when tracking local villains robbing local archaeological sites.
- The Cynic / The Pessimist: Has so dour a view of humanity he's suspected of being part Scots.
- Determinator: Will not allow Nature-red-in-tooth-and-claw to get the upper hand; and damned well shan't let Mould the Poacher get by with any depredations. If it means his not sleeping for days on end.
- Frontline General: Regards himself as such in his never-ending war against poachers and predators: he has a staff, he just refuses to delegate.
- Great White Hunter: Of the wildlife management and conservation sort.
- It's Personal: His ongoing war with the District's semi-official poacher-by-appointment.
Cyril Ponton, chief driver [chauffeur] to the Duke, Wolfdown House:
- Badass Driver: Can get from Point A to Point B, through anything and any weather, in record time and without ever a summons from the jolly constabulary.
- Friend to All Children: Rupert, James, and Hetty, naturally; but he and his junior colleagues are also always to hand to drive farm children who can't catch the train and are too far away to walk, to the Village School and (for the older ones) the Free School in Beechbourne. And they all love him.
- Obfuscating Stupidity: As the In-Universe press has finally learned, it's pointless to try to wheedle information out of him.
Jenny Beed, Fourth Housemaid, Wolfdown House:
Diligent and dutiful worker, who is occasionally exasperated by muddy paw-prints but is very much thankful that the Octagon Room, with all its mirrors, is no longer used, as in centuries past, for fencing exercises and the teaching of gavottes.
- First-Name Basis: Ex officio, as a housemaid.
- Maid: Fourth housemaid, to be precise, and working her way up.
- Pet the Dog: Puts up with a good deal, and all with a smile, from the ducal Clumbers and Her Ladyship's Bassets and Old English Sheepdogs at the Dower House.
Mandy (Amanda) Westlake, Scullery Maid, Wolfdown House:
- First-Name Basis: She's a Scullery Maid. That is the convention.
- Pursue the Dream Job: Training at Wolfdown, and taking all the ducally-granted opportunities for Higher Certs and so on, is a well-traveled path to bigger and better things; and she knows it.
- Scullery Maid: For now. It's a rung on the ladder.
Hal Fanner, Houseboy, Wolfdown House:
Keen young man on the lowest rung of the ladder. He'll surely rise. Kinsman of the postman, Peter "Postman Pete" Fanner.
George Ford BSc (Hons) MSc (Hons), Rural Estate Management, the Royal Agricultural University Circencester:
His Grace's Agent and Factor, point of contact (in theory) with the farmers, and agricultural conscience, Morality Chain, and Devil's Advocate.
- Big, Friendly Dog: Noted possessor of a much-admired Flat Coat Retriever bitch.
- Call to Agriculture: There are plenty of other jobs he could do and do well. And wouldn't do at gunpoint. He Serves The Land, and the Duke a distant second.
- The Clan: He's "cousin to half the folk of the three parishes."
- Last-Name Basis: As His Grace's agent, he is very much "Mister" Ford.
- Legacy of Service: In generations past, the Malets and then the Fitzjames dukes tried to guard against corruption by swapping out seneschals, stewards, and agents from one distant estate to another, before they gave up and started educating them to principles. Mr. Ford is descended from most of these, including stewards and agents brought down from ducal holdings in Worcestershire, Cheshire, and Shropshire. The Ford side, though, is pure Woolfonts-and-Beechbourne since before the Conquest, and have always had somebody working for the Family.
- Morality Chain: Unlikely to be wanted with the current duke (or Rupert), but stands ready to oppose any decision which is not in the best interest of the Family as a whole and, still more, of the Land. And has made this quite clear which is why he's the Duke's agent and factor.Mr Ford was an agent, not a flunkey. Had the ducal initiative threatened the land and the interests of the land, or had it imposed hardship on the tenants, he'd have said so to the duke's very face, and fought His Grace on it, hammer and tongs. But that wasn't the way of it, here as indeed, reflected Mr Ford, one'd expect, His Grace being His Grace, and knowing these things quite as well as did Mr Ford. So long as the land didn't suffer by it and His Grace were seeing that none of the farmers suffered by it, Mr Ford was happy to fight the duke's corner.
- The Spymaster: Like Mr. Viney, he makes certain the Duke, Lady Crispin, and the clergy are aware of any anti-social behavior requiring intervention.
Templecombe House ("Number One, Bath")
The Staff thus far mentioned:
Malet House, South Canonry. Sarum
The Staff thus far mentioned:
Mr. Coppock, butler to HG the Duke of Taunton at Tidnock:
- Big Eater: Evidently: "a man who perforce took exercise so as not to develop, owing to an abiding interest in food and drink, a bay window of his own."
- Hidden Depths: "Yeates [the First Footman at Wolfdown] might be absorbed by early porcelain[;] Mr Coppock [was] fascinated by early clocks." Also, has Serious Opinions of the economics of the whole Country House set-up.To the Rector's gran, on why keeping Tidnock staffed is not wasteful: "Excluding outdoor servants, madam, retaining even a skeleton staff for such a house as Tidnock Hall gives gainful employment on very liberal terms, if I may say so to a score or more of persons; and the economic activity of the Hall simply by existing, without considering the Family's personal purchases or the contributions made by the disposable income of Staff, is a significant factor in local prosperity."
- The Jeeves: Goes with the job, although subverted as to being cleverer than his employer, naturally.
- Old Retainer: The Duke mayn't be often at Tidnock, but if he shows up unannounced, it will be in apple-pie order for him. And ready, as Coppock points out, for any of the Family at need, or when the ducal nephews marry.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: A reading man and something of an autodidact, he is prone to this, with great port and gravity.
Mrs. Stanway, housekeeper to HG the Duke of Taunton at Tidnock:
- Kindly Housekeeper: Or she wouldn't be the housekeeper. Not under the Duke.
- Last-Name Basis: Such is the custom for housekeepers.
- Legacy of Service: Stanways have been at Tidnock for ages; one was exchanged to Wolfdown as an agent and factor a few short centuries ago.
- Old Retainer: On her watch, Tidnock bloody well shall "vindicate [her] stewardship and reflect credit upon His Grace."
Adley and Harkin, footmen to HG the Duke of Taunton at Tidnock:
- First-Name Basis: Presumably, in the Servants' Hall and on the job. Fr. Paddick does not play that game, and addresses them as ''Mr.'' Adley and ''Mr.'' Harkin. Old Lord Mallerstang doesn't "blink at hearing the footmen given the honorific, perhaps regarding this as in the nature of a priestly indult."
- Those Two Guys: Tend to appear and work in tandem.
Mrs. Blough, Cook, Tidnock
- Last-Name Basis: She is the Cook. It's ''Mrs.'' Blough. Full stop.
- Reasonable Authority Figure: Of the sterner sort. When she clears her throat meaningfully, the kitchen-maids "stand to."
- Supreme Chef: Why she has the job, after all. Mrs. B is also, in accordance with her own and the Duke's preferences, a serious advocate of local provender, sound British (often rare) breeds, and heritage veg.
Mr. Alan Davenport:
Agent and Factor to His Grace at Tidnock Hall and dependant holdings
- Hypercompetent Sidekick / Reasonable Authority Figure: As Mr. Coppock notes, Tidnock runs at a profit, never needs to open to tourists, can open the gardens for charity without asking money for admittance, and runs to a National Hunt Stud and an experimental agricultural station. Even as the Duke remains a popular landlord and employer. Mr. Davenport is clearly doing something very right.
Mr. Gittins, butler to His Grace at Melverley:
The ducal butler in the Welsh Marches, in Shropshire, at the confluence of Vyrnwy and Severn.
- Honorary Uncle: To James, particularly, who, as might be expected of a rower, loves Melverley best, and whose tendency to track mud about and drip river-water on things is smilingly indulged. (He doesn't mean to, after all, he's just that excited by being on the river.)
- The Jeeves: Ex officio.
- Last-Name Basis: Well: butler. So....
Mrs. Thorne, housekeeper to His Grace at Melverley:
The woman who runs Melverley, and sister-in-law to the duke's Shropshire agent.
Mrs. Pugh, Cook, Melverley:
The kitchen angel of Melverley, and Welsh of the Welsh.
" the excellent Mrs Pugh...."
Hoof, First Footman and Valet to His Grace at Melverley:
A testament to the joys of promotion.
- First-Name Basis / Last-Name Basis: Footmen get the former First Footman Valets graduate to the latter. Whether they like it or not and it's not stated whether he does or doesn't.
Dr Speake (BA BLitt DPhil Oxon), librarian-residentiary to His Grace at Melverley:
Pompous, elderly, garrulous, old-fashioned, but wise and lovable all the same: and very insistently an Oriel man (which is now James' college).
- Bookworm: Prefers to experience life on the page.
- Good Old Ways: He lives as much of an Edwardian existence as the times allow.
- Last-Name Basis: He's a formal and old-fashioned academic, so....
- Meaningful Name: He is a talker. At length.
- Not That Kind of Doctor: He's an Oxford DPhil. Not a medico.
- Old Retainer: Of a superior sort. Devoted to the Family.
- Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness: By the yard. Even in internal monologue. Hey, he's old-fashioned, and lives mentally in times long past.
Mr. Hollington, butler to His Grace at Clentwood:
The ducal butler in the Clent Hills, looking down (in several senses) on Brum and the West Midlands.
- Butlerspace: As in the preceding quote. Clentwood in its present incarnation being Georgian, there is sure to be a Real Life, Truth in Television reason, architecturally, for this ability to pop up from nowhere. Even without the priest holes present at Melverley.
- Good Samaritan: In themselves and as the Duke's agents in his absence, his servants are always engaged in local affairs. At Clentwood, Mr. Hollington and the rest of the Staff "constituted themselves the ducal lieutenants in Wildest Worcs, and invariably turned up on committees, the parish council and the PCC, and organisations, ranging from the governors of the parochial primary school (surging ahead at last after much anguish and reorganisation), to the ringers, to the gardening club." To almost, locally speaking, Benevolent Conspiracy levels.
- The Jeeves: Ex officio.
- Last-Name Basis: He is the butler. Comes with the territory.
Mrs. Raybould, housekeeper to His Grace at Clentwood:
The (inevitably kindly) housekeeper at Clentwood, and a power in the land.
- Good Samaritan: Part of a gang of them.From Parish Design Statement to Neighbourhood Watch to the Mothers' Union and the Cricket Club and the NFU, bus shelters and wildflower meadows and road surface issues, Clentwood played its part without throwing its weight about....
- Kindly Housekeeper: At home and in the community.
- Last-Name Basis: Naturally.
Mrs. Woodside, Cook, Clentwood:
The dancing cook. Well, at Servants' and Tenants' Dances.
- Last-Name Basis / They Call Me Mister Tibbs: All cooks are Mrs. Wotsit.
- Meaningful Name / Punny Name: A perfectly respectable Worcestershire name, common in Clent and Hagley. On the other hand, she always dances with the Duke at Servants' and Tenants' Dances
to Count Basie.note
- And, yes, the Duke asserts that there is also a housemaid named "Stella." By, presumably, starlight.
- Supreme Chef: It's a job qualification.
Clentwood servants not yet given more than a mention:
The First Footman is Boughton. The Head Gardener is Shuck.
Agent and Factor to His Grace in Worcs and the West Midlands.
Mr. Malloch, butler to His Grace at Camserney:
Butler to the duke who is, up there, the laird at Camserney, in Highland Perthshire, between Weem and Dull.
Mrs. Dewar, housekeeper to His Grace at Camserney:
Housekeeper at Camserney.
Mrs. Peddie, Cook, Camserney:
The sentimental, Highland-superstitious, shortbread-making cook at the Castle.
"Mrs Peddie, the cook at Camserney, was of the latter breed, and, newly arrived in Hall, was doling out lashings of stem-ginger shortbread as she dabbed her tearful eyes, and accompanying these tidbits, to Mrs Viney's amused exasperation and the astonishment of the Wolfdown House cook, Mrs Woolley, with tales of omens and signs and Gaelic portents upon the foretold death of heirs."
Jock Garvie, Head Gardener, Camserney:
Stern Scots gardener, concairnit wi' a' his policiesnote and "the flowers of the forest."
- "... Jock Garvie surveyed the policies and his plantings for the flo'ers o' the forest for the funeral.''
"Auld" Dand Robertson, Head Ghillie, Camserney:
Ghillie and gamekeeper to His Grace.
- Great White Hunter: Of the wildlife management and conservation sort. With a specialism in grouse and stags.
Tam Ferguson, Piper to His Grace, Camserney:
The Duke's personal piper at Camserney.
Mr. Alexander (Eck) Keir:
Agent and Factor to His Grace in Perthshire.
Mr. MacBean, butler to His Grace at Luineag:
Butler to the duke at Luineage Lodge, in the forest by the loch and wrapped in Highland mist and Romantic stereotypes.
Mistressnote Cruickshank, housekeeper to His Grace at Luineag:
Housekeeper at Luineag.
Mrs. Grant, Cook, Luineag:
A dab hand with venison collops.
Jock Meldrum, Head Gardener, Luineag:
Making deserts bloom is one thing. Making a garden in the middle of the Highland forests....
- "... Jock Meldrum of the gardens....''
Donald Cameron, Head Ghillie, Luineag:
Heid (i.e., Head) Ghillie and Keeper to His Grace.
- Great White Hunter: Of the wildlife management and conservation sort. At a ducal holding specifically named as and functioning as a lodge (shooting, for the indulgence of).
Iain "Garbh" Mackenzie, Piper to His Grace, Luineag:
The Duke's personal piper at Luineag.
Agent and Factor to His Grace in the Highlands.
- Last-Name Basis: It's a matter of respect, to him and the ducal laird he represents.
Mr. Stillwell, butler to His Grace at Taunton House:
Butler to the duke at his London town house. Which, being in London, sees very little of His Grace, who detests London.
- Benevolent Boss: Very kind to the new footman, and volunteers himself and the rest of Staff to answer his questions and to instruct him in any intellectual hobbies he's interested in pursuing through his employment.
- Hidden Depths: Knows the history and art history of the whole Family and its collections, particularly in London, in detail and with considerable expertise. Then again, his longtime partner is the curator....
- The Jeeves: Ex officio and with a few twists.
- Last-Name Basis: Butlers, man....
- Straight Gay: If you weren't told, you'd not know.
- Totally Radical: Bless. He does try: "I believe tapestry and textiles are by way of being Your Thing?"
Mrs. Austin, housekeeper to His Grace at Taunton House:
The formidable housekeeper at the Dukes' London seat.
Mrs. Bacon, Cook, Taunton House:
London's answer to the great country house cooks.
Miss Stone, Deputy Housekeeper and First Housemaid, Taunton House:
A very busy woman indeed.
- "Miss Stone'll put you in the picture as to linens, livery, and laundry, or should she be busy just now Miss Priest can tell you all you want to know.''
Miss Priest, Lady's-maid to Lady Crispin, Taunton House:
Very much on top of things, and, in her lady's absence, willing to muck in as deputy to Miss Stone.
- Maid: Of considerable seniority and distinction.
Mr. Ware, First Footman, Valet, and Under-Butler, Taunton House:
And right-hander to the Librarian when wanted.
Miss Holland, Seamstress and Laundry Maid, Taunton House:
And damned good at it.
Jonathan Forge, newest Footman, Taunton House:
The new hire.
- "... Jonathan Forge had not come to the ducal ménage had he not already been superlatively well-trained....''
- Hidden Depths: Interested in tapestries. Knows his London history.
- First-Name Basis: He gets his full name in narration, but once he's signed on....
- Naïve Newcomer: To ducal service. Allowing Mr. Stillwell to l'arn him a few things in passing.Mr Stillwell, butler, steward, and majordomo to HG the duke of Taunton at Taunton House in London, was instructing the newest member of staff, less in his duties Jonathan Forge had not come to the ducal ménage had he not already been superlatively well-trained , but, rather, in the special quirks and quiddities of Taunton House....
"I really must impress upon you, Jonathan, that His Grace, although affable enough if peppery and conversable, and wholly without "side" or snobbery, is in many, many respects almost Royal, although he should be the first to deny it and with some indignation. In consequence, service here or at any of the Family's residences partakes somewhat of Royal Household service, however hard His Grace may try to play it down and walk humbly (for a duke). In fact, it has been said by those with cause to know it have you met Timothy yet? Ah. Timothy was on the strength at Clarence House in the days of Her late Majesty Queen Elizabeth, the then Queen Mother."
- Pursue the Dream Job: A man interested in tapestries has plenty of scope at Taunton House.
Mr. Timothy Goodspeed, Taunton House:
Curator of certain of the Taunton House collections.
- Gayborhood: Clarence House in the Queen Mum's day, which was one, self-contained. She famously once rang downstairs when the scheduled drink was late and said, "I don't know what you old queens down there are doing, but the Old Queen up here wants her gin."
- Nobody Over 50 Is Gay: Averted, as to Mr. Goodspeed and Mr. Stillwell.
Dr Pearman, librarian-residentiary to His Grace at Taunton House:
The ducal librarian in London.
Offices, Templecombe Crescent SW1; Solicitors, Watkins Dod Gorton. Enquire for details.
Paul Wells, the Taunton Estate Office:
Former high-flier in the City, whose character was being warped and family life ruined by it. He was a wanker to a young Sikh he knocked down on the pavement within a few yards of the Duke, who, ah, intervened. His Grace had him sacked, then hired him to see if he could be retrained into a human being. Wells PA is now making more money and living much more happily, and is much the better for it; and does excellent work for the Duke's property portfolio, handling sums much larger than those he'd dealt in in the City.
- Benevolent Boss: Well, nowadays.
- Break the Haughty: Broke him. And he's grateful for it.
- Defeat Means Friendship: Well, Undying Loyalty, as to the Duke; but Wells is very much now on good terms with the young Sikh he'd been a shit to.
- HeelFace Turn: After getting "The Reason You Suck" Speech from an angry Duke of Taunton playing Good Samaritan, and accompanying Heel Realization.note
- Morally Bankrupt Banker: Headed that way until the HeelFace Turn.
"Ravi" Singh Bedi, the Taunton Estate:
Courtauld-trained art historian, now curating and advising for the Taunton collections as he finished his degrees. The young Sikh Paul Atherton Wells was a Jerk to. Dignified and prepared to suffer no disrespect, but unwilling to see disproportionate vengeance, as a matter of ''Dan'' and ''Charhdi Kala''.
- All-Loving Hero: Forgives quite as readily as, say, does Fr. Paddick, and for similar reasons.
- The Cutie: Averted. He's relentlessly cheerful, not an idiot.
- The Heart: As evidenced by his forgiving nature.
- Undying Loyalty: Subject to principles and religion, to the Duke, for the opportunities given.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Averted. He's a realist who carries on anyway.
Hari Dhillon "Haz" Singh, Chickmarsh Quarries, the Taunton Estate:
- Acceptable Professional Targets: Averted. Yes, he's an accountant, but.... An ex-Army accountant. (And, obviously, a ''Sikh'' former Warrant Officer.
- Good with Numbers: Sort of a requirement here....
- Respected by the Respected: To the point of having got a typical Army Affectionate Nickname of "Haz" for "Harry" for "Hari" and being well-regarded by the Duke by the local retired Gurkhas, as "as an old soldier approved by other old soldiers."
Mentioned in passing are the Taunton Estate Solicitors, Watkins Dod Gorton, and various barristers the Duke will have briefed at need (and for political purposes):
- "Even the juniors Mr Philip Brabazon-Fane (a distant cousin to the duke); Miss Margaret Standle were high-flyers; but it was the QCs rather unprecedentedly on hand who were the subject of various emotions in those present, from glee to apprehension. The duke's solicitors had, of course, instructed the best of the best: Sir Henry D'Souza QC MP; Sir Gerald Druce QC MP; Sir Martin Chittick QC MP; Priscilla Stanhope-Vesey QC; Benjamin Montefiore QC; Fiona Hardie QC; Shireen Anwar Khan QC: and that alone might, perhaps, have been the explanation for their presence. Or, of course, one might put it down to, say, Gerry Druce's being a member of Vincent's, who had played in the middle order for the OUCC 1st XI when the duke had captained, and to Pip Brabazon-Fane's being a ducal connexion. It was lost on no one, however, that Sir Henry was the Hon. and Learned Member for Quantock and Goathurst in the Liberal Democrat interest; that Sir Gerry was the Tory Hon. and Learned Member for Tidnock and Dane Valley; and that Sir Martin was Labour's Hon. and Learned Member for Brixton West."
And then there are the real heavy hitters in the series:
Tony Macey, solicitor:
A contentedly provincial solicitor in Beechbourne, and nephew to old Judge Cundick, the Chancellor to the Diocese.
- Acceptable Professional Targets: Averted. He's very good lawyer and a Lawful Good lawyer.
- The Clan: His uncle is a Circuit Judge; he's distantly related to the Headmaster and the vet; and there are Maceys and Hart-Maceys on every Parochial Church Council for miles around.
- The Dreaded: Professionally. A letter from Mr. Macey makes persons in breach of contract come immediately to terms. "[A] stiff letter from Mr Macey should no doubt do more to shift Mr Penny's supplier than a thousand angry ringings-up."
- Respected by the Respected: He and the Duke are commonly on 'Tony-and-Charles' terms.
- Small Town Boredom: Of a professional kind.The one disadvantage, to a provincial solicitor with a taste for conveyancing matters, in living in the District, was that so much of the land was firmly in ducal hands, and, consequently, only rarely re-tenanted, and never alienated. It left one pining for a busier market in land and estates, it truly did do.... Of course, one could always subsist on Wills.
- Undying Loyalty: To the Law and his clients; and to his friends. He refuses to act for anyone trying to trouble the Duke, the Family, or the parishes.
Simon Hales-Owen, solicitor:
Old school-fellow of the Duke and the Nawab (prefects about to leave school for Oxford when he was a new boy), whose opinion of him has not much changed.
- Acceptable Professional Targets: Zigzagged. He's a (technically) honest and effective lawyer, and useful to the duke, but he is sinuous and serpentine.
- Always Someone Better: Fortunately, the two instances he's encountered to date are the Duke, who retains him, and the barrister Sir Pemberton Molyneaux, whom he briefs for the Duke.
- Amoral Attorney: Not quite (the prospect of continued ducal employment is an effective Morality Chain), but he does push the envelope at times. Although always in the client's interest.
- Brilliant, but Lazy: At school, the future Duke had said of young Hales-Owen that "a boy too lazy for beaglin' was simply too lazy to live," and his "slack-bob" nature has carried on into his maturity: which is why he finds the clever and easy (if somewhat unpalatable) way around any legal problem, with great success.
- Magnificent Bastard: Or so HM Revenue and Customs, Treasury solicitors, and other opponents have declared him. Sometimes without the adjective.
- Punny Name: Blink and miss, but Halesowen is a Worcestershire (nowadays, Dudley) town within the general influence-area of the ducal Clentwood.
- Too Clever by Half: So far, generally successfully.
Sir Pemberton Molyneaux QC:
Smooth-as-silk silk briefed for the Duke ... rather often.
"[snip] Never play your trump until you mean to take the last trick."
- The Chessmaster: The Duke in whose interest he'd briefed plays Xanatos Speed Chess; as a barrister, Sir Pemberton is more limited, but, within those limitations, he's Capablanca: even with the Duke's bright ideas and Mr. Hales-Owen's cleverness, there aren't so many barristers who can force the National Trust to give back a donated property to avoid a worse precedent yet.
- Magnificent Bastard: Opposing counsel particularly George Tompkins QC, who had been briefed against him in the property action think him one. And say so.
- Punny Name: (Noel) Pemberton Billing was a famous(ly unhinged) litigant and conspiracy-theorist in the early 20th Century, who starred in and fomented some famous and scandalous trials.
The Towers have farmed the Home Farm for the Dukes of Taunton and under their eye for generations.
- " the Towers of Home Farm necessarily, even in the midst of Champion Country for sheep, had a full range of operations to manage for the duke's estate: a dairy herd and a beef herd; poultry of all kinds; arable; and not only the wool flocks of breeds proper to the district, but also the prize ducal Wiltshire Horns, for meat. (The Towers and Trulock the Vet were the only folk in the district to whom lambing season was all but unending, with flocks of all possible breeds to hand in their varying seasons and the Dorset Horns lambing twice a year, in Autumn and in Spring.) The Home Farm of Wolfdown was required to be a Model Farm, and to show what might be done with British Rare Breeds suited to the West Country; and ducal estates are meant to be self-sustaining."
Will Tower of the Home Farm:
Paterfamilias of the Tower family.
- Call to Agriculture: He doesn't farm because he's unqualified for cushier jobs; he farms because he loves it.
- The Clan: The Towers of the Home Farm are merely one branch of the Tower clan, which includes innumerable cousins, including the branch who are the local undertakers and monumental masons (that is, the ones who carve and chisel the tombstones / headstones).
- Enemies List: He despises politicians of all stripes and parties, and all townees, all of whom, in his view, know nothing of what keeps the country fed and clothed, and he tends to collect and congregate with like-minded haters of politics, so as to discuss what prats the politicians are. (These gatherings are called Farmers' Dinners)."Politicians urban fools, the lot of them. [snip] Leaving lawmaking in the soft hands of urban politicians he looked at his own hands, a farmer's hands, and bearing the stigmata of years in the job. Daft lot, and ignorant as babes, the House of Commons, thought he.... [snip] He stopped and chuckled as he realised he'd been humming. And just what he'd been humming. And it wasn't from reflecting on slurry for the fields, either, it all came of thinking about MPs. For what he'd been unthinkingly humming was an old Wurzels tune: 'Champion Dung Spreader'."
- Legacy of Service: The Towers and the ducal Family go waaaay back.
- The Patriarch: Unquestionably: to all the Towers, as farming the Duke's manorial farms, and to all the farming interest in the District by being The Ace of farming.
- Respected by the Respected: He has the full confidence of Duke, Rector, and all the District farmers.
Rob Tower of the Home Farm:
Son and heir to Will. Doing his work-experience / gap year at home before going up to the Royal Agricultural University Cirencester.
- Bi the Way: Yep."Poor bugger (thought the duke, with empathy) [ Rob was] a common object [ ] of quite blatant suggestions for a tumble, and not infrequently from [ ] yummy-mummies playing at Mrs Robinson, and their spear-side counterparts: a fact which was wryly accepted with mingled exasperation and fondness by Rob's boyfriend, a youth of his own age who was doing his work-experience year at the Stud under the Maguires' watchful and horsey eye. A fact which had very much not been acceptable, and had occasioned unmixed wrath and exasperation, in Rob's prior girlfriend, which is why she was no longer Rob's girlfriend...."
- Call to Agriculture: No, seriously, all he wants to do is farm (farm, farm). See quote above.
- The Clan: He's a Tower; ergo, he's part of one.
- Generation Xerox: Averted. He's very much his own man. Well, his own youth.
- Gentle Giant / The Big Guy: Cares deeply for farm animals, is something of an All-Loving Hero, and can do surprisingly delicate work (see Hidden Depths, below).
- Farm Boy: Subverted. He is literally a farm boy, but the threat to his Arcadia and family is leaving it and them, and his destiny and quest and goal is in fact staying Down on the Farm.
- Farmer's Daughter: Spear-side version.
- Hidden Depths: He's clever under the outward Farm Boy persona. And "roll[s] a tighter, tidier fleece at shearing time than anyone in the County."
- Hunk: And much lusted after In-Universe.
- Legacy of Service: The Towers and the ducal Family go waaaay back.
- Mr. Fanservice: Inadvertently, In-Universe. And with some Squick as to his In-Universe Fandom."The Towers, at the Home Farm, had, with ducal encouragement, done several seasons' worth already of videos of Farming Life and the Farm Family, to no small advantage. [snip] [ ] a few (but one was too many) of those who nowadays propositioned, uselessly, young Rob Tower, had been avidly watching him grow up online, and had not always waited until he should be of age to indulge lubricious thoughts of him."
- Three Successful Generations: He's the Youth.