Thursday, June 4, 2015

Etiquette: An Edwardian Look Back

Even at so late a period as the Restoration, 1660, it was the custom for the guests to take their own knives and forks to an English banquet.





"Old Time Etiquette"

Even at so late a period as the Restoration, 1660, it was the custom for the guests to take their own knives and forks to an English banquet. Pepys records that he did this when he went to the Lord Mayor's feast in the Guildhall. 


In the previous reign, the Lord Chamberlain had found it necessary to issue regulations for the benefit of the officers invited to dine at the royal table. They were required to wear clean boots, not to be half drunk on their arrival, not to drink more than one goblet to every two dishes, not to throw the bones under the table, not to lick their fingers. 
 Mary, Queen of Scots, introduced to the UK, etiquette and customs she had learned in France.
The Stuarts undoubtedly did much to refine English table manners, for it was one of the points admired by Mary Queen of Scots that the customs she introduced from France made her court and royal banquets more exquisite and genteel than those of her rival, Queen Elizabeth. 

As forks came into use, the old-time importance of the table napkin began to wane. From being a necessity it became a luxury, on the fastidious use of which etiquette has at various times placed strange values. Under the third empire in France, St. Beuve brought disgrace upon himself because at breakfast at the Tuilleries he carelessly opened his napkin and placed it over his two knees. To this he added the crime of cutting his egg in two at the middle. 
Etiquette at Versailles and the Tuileries Palace dictated the rules for everything from use of napkins to eating one's eggs.
Court etiquette prescribed that the half-folded napkin should be on the left knee, and the top of the egg was to be merely broken with the edge of the spoon and drained with the tip of the spoon. For his failings in these respects St. Beuve's name was struck off the imperial visiting list.–The Los Angeles Herald, 1909


Etiquette Enthusiast, Maura J. Graber, is the Site Moderator and Editor for the Etiquipedia© Etiquette Encyclopedia