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.