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Downton Etiquette Explained - Series 3, Episode 8

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Our final foray into Downton until Christmas and it did not disappoint. ITV clearly has a sense of humour in thinking that I'm A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here is a suitable replacement.

So, for the final time...

Footmen in gloves
You will have noticed that Alfred and Jimmy wear white gloves when serving at table, whereas Carson the butler does not. Wearing gloves marked you out to be a footman. One school of thought was that your hands were considered not as clean as your senior Butler and so gloves were needed. A more practical explanation was that the butler didn't really serve a lot of food - mainly just the wine, and so as he was not coming into contact with the food, gloves were not needed; also, the use of gloves when holding a glass decanter would have lessened the Butler's grip and an accident could easily have happened.

Guest of honour
During the dinner with Lady Rose, the Dowager Countess was seated to her son's left, whereas for a majority of dinners at Downton she has been to his right. The seat to the right of the host was - and still is - the place for the 'guest of honour' (usually, the most senior guest). For whatever reason, Lady Rose was obviously considered to be that evening's guest of honour and usurped Maggie Smith's character for the evening. (But perhaps word about the Dowager's teaspoon faux pas from last week has spread?)

How do you do?
When Lady Rosamund met Lady Rose's married gentleman friend in the nightclub she - quite correctly - extended her hand and said 'How do you do?' The now modern alternative of 'pleased to meet you' would not have been used (and should be avoided even now). To say to a total stranger 'pleased to meet you' is insincere. If you have known nothing about them up until that point then how do you know if you are pleased to meet them or not? Lady Rosamund was perfectly correct and remained polite, regardless of her anger at the time.

Tea napkins
My thoughts on the sizes of napkins have been documented before but note that those used for the tea scene of Lady Mary and Matthew were too big and should have been far smaller: namely 12 inches square.

Even though I have sat through the past eight weeks nit-picking and exclaiming in cod-horror every time one of the cast appeared with one too many buttons fastened, this third series of Downton Abbey has been excellent. Cast and crew are to be commended and Christmas Day cannot come soon enough.