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Dinner in Georgian Society

Adams the butler

Dining in Georgian Society was a long-winded affair. A meal could go on for three to four hours. The table had to be laid in perfect symmetry and adorned with a floral centre-piece and a number of figurines. The arrangement of the table was an art and books were published with full instructions on how to perfectly present the table. The best plates were blue and white and often made of the finest Chinese porcelain, although at the beginning of the 19th century, Spode and Wedgewood dinner services were becoming popular. Forks were becomingly increasingly common-place in the 18th century and knives had a rounded end to be used for scooping up food after it had been cut up.

The use of napkins was considered vulgar. They were a French invention and the English were at war with the French at the time. It was considered polite for diners to use the pristine white table cloths to wipe their mouths and some used to tuck it into their collars to protect their clothes (Adams the Butler demonstrates in the picture above).

Dinner was served around seven in the evening, by a number of staff who would remove everything from the table after each course and completely re-lay it for the next one. It was an extremely formal affair where guests were seated according to their social standing.

The meat (usually beef) was the star of the show and guests would often eat as much as they possibly could whilst drinking copious amounts of Port and Madeira.

An Evening with the Romantic Poets

Room with lots of people

It may have been cold and dark outside but romance was definitely in the air at the Mansion House as Mexborough poetry group Read to Write gave an enthusiastic audience a wonderful evening of poetry readings.

The theme for the evening was the Romantic Poets, a group of late18th/early 19th century writers who had turned away from the intellectual ideas of the neo-classicist works to produce work that harnessed feelings and emotion.

Favourites like, Wordsworth’s Daffodils, Blake’s Jerusalem and Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge were interspersed by works that were less familiar to some but equally powerful.

The introspective “I am” by John Clare contrasted wonderfully with Percy Bysshe Shelley’s England in 1819.

Read to Write meet twice a week. The sessions are free, informal and open to everyone. They are run on a drop-in basis with a focus on reading, writing, and performing poetry.

Tree Planting celebrates Tercentenary of Architect

The work of architect James Paine was celebrated recently at a tree planting ceremony at Cusworth Hall, Doncaster.

Tree planting

Paine was born 300 years ago in 1717 in Andover, Hampshire and after studying in London under some of the great names in the art world, Paine left London for Yorkshire at the age of just 19. His first professional commission was as clerk of works at Nostell Priory in 1737. From this stepping stone, he began a fruitful career not only in the North, but throughout England.

Paine came to prominence with his design for Doncaster Mansion House which was completed in 1749. He also altered and expanded the south front of Cusworth Hall with the addition of two wings, to house a chapel and a library.

A beech tree was planted in Cusworth Park in his honour by the Lord-Lieutenant of South Yorkshire, Andrew Coombe. The ceremony was organised by the Friends of Doncaster Mansion House who are celebrating the tercentenary of James Paine’s birth with a series of Georgian and Regency themed events

Volunteers needed

We’re proud to have some amazing volunteers who love to help us out at the Mansion House and who bring with them a variety of different skills and experience.

They will greet you as you come in and show you where to see all the best features. If you want more information they will take you on a tour and tell you about the building and its treasures.

Many of them help behind the scenes organising and helping out with the events. Some of them love to root around in the archives looking for stories of the people who paid for, planned, built and used this magnificent building.

Several of the volunteers can often be seen wearing Georgian or Regency costume. Owen likes to greet visitors in the guise of James Paine, the building’s architect.

All of the volunteers have one thing in common; their enthusiasm for all things Mansion House.

If you would like to join our volunteers, you will be made very welcome. We have a selection of volunteering roles you can try and they all help to ensure the Mansion House story is there for everyone to enjoy.

New website under construction

Welcome to Doncaster Mansion House. Our new website will uncover the stories of the people who have been involved with this wonderful building since it was built in 1749 and the role that it played in the history of Doncaster.

Entrance and stairway

We’ll take you in through the front door and let you in on the secrets that lie inside.

On our journey we’ll discover the objects, paintings and curiosities which document the social history of this town and its citizens.

The archives hold fascinating stories of the ambition of Doncaster Corporation to place the Mansion House at the centre of a thriving social scene based around the horse races that were later to become the St Leger week.

As the Industrial Revolution was about to bring huge change to the area, the Mansion House stood proudly at the centre of the town which would expand rapidly in future years. It is now the most important heritage building remaining in this once elegant Georgian country town.

This year we are holding a number of events exploring life in Georgian and Regency times. From dance displays to 18th century baking, architecture trails to tales of Jane Austen, there will be something for everyone.

Watch this space to find out more and join us on our journey.