The hall boy was the lowest ranked male servant on the staff of a great house. It was often a young boy. His name derived from the main venue of his job, the Servants' Hall. He may also have slept in one of the halls below stairs, making him, literally, a ‘hall boy’. Hall boys were often part of the between staff, usually reporting to the butler but performing some duties for the housekeeper as well.
Like his female counterpart, the scullery maid, the hall boy would have been expected to work up to 16 hours per day, seven days per week. He would have been an assistant to the lowest footman and would therefore have had the most disagreeable tasks in the house, such as emptying chamber pots for the higher-ranking male servants, and cleaning their boots. In some households the hall boy would have served in the Servant’s Hall, in other households this fell to a junior footman or maid. The hall boy would have been expected to perform any additional duties requested of him.
A hall boy could rise through the ranks and, if fortunate, eventually become a valet or butler. Arthur Inch, butler technical consultant for the film Gosford Park, stated in an interview that he began his life in service as a hall boy at the age of 14.
- The Authenticity of Gosford Park, Documentary short in Gosford Park Collector's Edition DVD, Universal Studios, 2002.