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