The Gatekeeper



The principal job of the gatekeeper was to open the gates to the estate in the morning (usually at 6am) and close them in the evening. The gatekeeper controlled access to the house and grounds, keeping intruders out and servants in. On most estates, he was not allowed to let any servant out past 9pm without special permission.

The gatekeeper usually lived in a lodge by the main entrance gates, and was sometimes provided with a small garden. Large houses like Emo Court usually had two sets of entrance gates: a grand entrance for the family and their guests, and a plainer one which servants and tradesmen had to use, even  if  this meant a long detour on foot.


Gatekeepers at Emo

An entry in the agent’s book for Emo Court in 1849 reads: “Appointed Downy to mind Emo Gate June the 1st 1849 at ₤12 a year”. 


In 1901, the gatekeeper was Mary Coss. She lived in a three-roomed house with her husband William, who was an agricultural labourer on the estate. When Mary died, William took over the role as gatekeeper and he is listed in this capacity in the 1911 census. Other gatekeepers at Emo include the Misses Odlum, who lived in the lodge at the back gate, and James Conroy who lived at the farm before the main gate, and whose house was equipped with a bell which rang whenever someone needed entrance to Emo Court.