Friday, May 1, 2020

Country House Party Etiquette

“Try the plovers' eggs,” said the MP to the Irish journalist in a London club. So he did, not knowing in what shape or form they would appear before him. They came whole, in their shells and, if the establishment was doing things the Mrs Beeton way, they would have been served boiled hard and delivered to the table in a napkin. Either hot or cold.The journalist looked at his plate and wondered. He was soon shown how, when the politician picked up one, rapped it briskly off his plate, peeled off the shards of eggshell and proceeded to eat - Irish Times, 1996


Brown and white bread and butter should always be served with them when plovers' eggs are in season. Plovers' eggs are usually served boiled hard, and sent to table in a napkin, either hot or cold. They may also be shelled, and served the same as eggs à la Tripe, with a good Bechamel sauce, or brown gravy, poured over them. They are also used for decorating salads, “the beautiful colour of the white being generally so much admired.” according to Mrs. Beeton

The first evening of a large party in a country house, the guests are usually sent in with due regard to the rank and precedence; on subsequent evenings so much formality is not observed. In some houses the ladies choose one evening, the gentlemen the next, who shall escort them to dinner; in other houses they draw lots.

Either are good plans, as they obviate the necessity of having the same companion for a week, maybe longer, which arrangement is sometimes very pleasant, sometimes very much the reverse.

Extra arrivals each evening would make precedence necessary again, as lots and choosing your partners, if I may so express it, for dinner, would be too unceremonious a way of arranging matters to meet the requirements as to rank, etc., of a very large country house party; and as at each of these reunions there are sure to be some who think a great deal of the respect due to them, it is as well, indeed it is simply a matter of etiquette, to conform to them.

In most country houses, also at London dinner parties, the butler usually brings in a tray with brandy and whisky, seltzer, soda-water, and ice, in case any of the guests wish to partake of anything before leaving.

Finger glasses filled with water, peppermint water, or water with a slice of lemon in it, should always be handed round after prawns, shrimps, or 'crawfish,' so that the guests may dip their fingers in, then wipe them on the serviette, to get rid of the fishy smell.

Brown and white bread and butter should always be served with all these fish, also when plovers' eggs are in season, with them also.

Awnings should always be provided at large dinner parties, and also on all occasions even when an awning is not considered necessary. 'Carriage rollers' should be provided; they are put down by the footmen prior to the dinner party, so that the guests should step upon them on getting out of their carriages, which prevents their feet getting damp, and their dresses dirty. 

Red cloth is only laid down when Royal guests are expected ; an awning then is also imperatively necessary.— From "Etiquette: What to Do, and How to Do It," By Lady Constance Eleanora C. Howard, 1885

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

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