Much has changed since the Victorian Era's strict rules of conduct, perhaps none more than those involving dinner table etiquette, although some endure today, including being considerate of other guests and being punctual.
Proper Behavior for All
Victorian diners knew that it was gauche to reach across the table for food, to gulp down refreshments or to slurp one's soup. Additionally, they knew they should not sprawl on the table, and should raise the food instead of lowering the head. As a courtesy to others, a diner did not request second helpings, which required others to wait for the next course.
Genteel Hostess Actions
A proper Victorian hostess never seated married couples together, instead allowing ranking precedence to match her guests with their dinner partners. She never served dinner until all guests were at table, making a late arrival inconsiderate. She instructed her servants to fill water goblets from the right of the guest, but to serve everything else from the left.
Gender Differences in Behavior
A gentleman seated his dinner escort on his right and then remained standing until all of the ladies were seated. A lady waited to remove her gloves until she was seated, while a gentleman removed his before taking his seat. She placed her napkin in her lap, but her escort was free to tuck his napkin into his collar to protect his shirt and tie. He also retrieved a plate from the buffet for his partner, as a lady never served herself from the line.
Style Your World With Color
Let your imagination run wild with these easy-to-pair colors.View Article
Explore a range of deep greens with the year's "it" colors.View Article
Barack Obama's signature color may bring presidential power to your wardrobe.View Article
See if her signature black pairs well with your personal style.View Article
- Forgotten New England: The Etiquette of Eating Olives -- Victorian-Era Table Manners
- Victorian Station: Etiquette
- Lone Hand Western: Victorian Table Etiquette
- 1876 Victorian England: Victorian Etiquette
- Victorian Rituals: Rituals II - Etiquette
- Glennna Jo Christen: The Language of Nineteenth Century Etiquette Books
- Brand X Pictures/Stockbyte/Getty Images