Midday: A Servants Workday

As you can imagine, most of the tasks that the servants did on the manor were physically demanding. Although there were tool to help with the chores, many of the machines that we would see on a farm today had not been invented. The work could also be repetitive- tending rows of crops, feeding animals, and cooking meals for the family would not change much day by day.


But let's think about some of the benefits of working on the manor. If you worked in the fields or with the livestock, most of your work was done away from the watchful eye of the master. As long as the tasks were completed in a timely manner, you could set your own pace. Also, in many areas of the manor you would be working with other servants. For example, most of the milk maids and scullery maids would be about the same age and from the same nearby towns and villages. It's likely that these servants knew each other, and could hopefully talk or find other ways to pass the time. Churning butter would go much faster if you could talk, joke or sing with a friend.


The schedule for the servants was based on the season. More work would be done during the summer and early fall, when there was more daylight and more work that needed to be done. But even during these busy seasons, servants expected that they would be able to take a break during the work day. If your work required you to do chores mostly in the morning and the evening, you might take and extended break in the middle of the day. Even if you worked closely with the Dauntesey family, there would be time when you could slip away to the kitchen to visit with some of the other servants to catch up with the latest gossip.


Think about how your school or work day is structured. Do you have set times for breaks, or can you take one whenever you need to? Do you have to work for a set number of hours, or do you need to finish a certain number of tasks? And how might you schedule have changed since the onset of the pandemic, when many people started learning and working from home for the first time?


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