Visiting

The ‘morning visit’ appears to actually be in the afternoon according to Routledge’s Manual of Etiquette!

A morning visit should be paid between the hours of two and four p.m., in winter, and two and five in summer. By observing this rule you avoid intruding before the luncheon is removed, and leave in sufficient time to allow the lady of the house an hour or two of leisure for her dinner.

The times here seem to change be of the light changing from winter to summer.

Be careful always to avoid luncheon hours when you pay morning visits. Some ladies dine with their children at half past one, and are consequently unprepared for the early reception of visitors. When you have once ascertained this to be the case, be careful never again to intrude at the same hour.

Whilst we are not so strict nowadays I found it annoying when my in-laws had a habit of just turning up when they felt like it, usually when the Good Wife and I are trying to spend a bit of time just relaxing. It would be nice if people could actually take note of the highlighted section.

A good memory for these trifles is one of the hall-marks of good breeding. Visits of ceremony should be short. If even the conversation should have become animated, beware of letting your call exceed half-hour’s length. It is always better to let your friends regret than desire your withdrawal.

Good breeding..something that in my opinion is a rarity today. With so much rudeness, crudeness and general ruffianism but hardly a surprise when such a lack of personal responsibility and discipline lacks in society.

‘Good breeding is the result of good sense, some good nature, and a little self-denial for the sake of others’  Lord Chesterfield.

Good old Lord Chesterfield, a noted writer and wit apparently but he seems to have hit the nail on the head.

Visits of ceremony should be short. If even the conversation should have become animated, beware of letting your call exceed half-hour’s length. It is always better to let your friends regret than desire your withdrawal.

In-laws, family and close friends should definitely take note of the above.

On returning visits of ceremony you may, without impoliteness, leave your card at the door without going in. Do not fail, however, to inquire if the family be well. Should there be daughters or sisters residing with the lady upon whom you call, you may turn down a corner of your card, to signify that the visit is paid to all. It is in better taste, however, to leave cards for each. 

Of course we only really use cards in business and with the advent of e-cards probably not really that much.

Visits of condolence are paid within the week after the event which occasions them. Personal visits of this kind are made by relations and very intimate friends only. Acquaintances should leave cards with narrow mourning borders. On the first occasion when you are received by the family after the death of one of its members, it is etiquette to wear slight mourning.

Death...the last taboo!

It’s quite an irony that Victorians were quite reserved and prudish about sex but not death. In many ways it seems quite the opposite today, open the sun and a large pair of breasts greet the eye and people quite openly talk about sex but death is still awkward and apprehensive for most of us.

The Victorians lived with death all around them and I guess were accustomed to it to some degree. Death is ever-present in Victorian times with 3 out of every 20 babies die before their first birthday, and life expectancy is about 40 years, Life expectancy in London today is well into 70 years.

Don’t forget!!

Umbrellas should invariably be left in the hall.

No one wants a soggy carpet or one covered in dog hairs!

Never take favourite dogs into a drawing-room when you make a morning call. Their feet may be dusty, or they may bark at the sight of strangers, or, being of too friendly a disposition, may take the liberty of lying on a lady’s gown, or jumping on the sofas and easy chairs. Where your friend has a favourite cat already established before the fire, a battle may ensue, and one or other of the pets be seriously hurt.

When leaving time comes:

If other visitors are announced, and you have already remained as long as courtesy requires, wait till they are seated, and then rise from your chair, take leave of your hostess, and bow politely to the newly arrived guests. You will, perhaps, be urged to remain, but, having once risen, it is best to go. There is always a certain air of gaucherie in resuming your seat and repeating the ceremony of leave-taking. If you have occasion to look at your watch during a call, ask permission to do so, and apologise for it on the plea of other appointments. 

and if others are leaving your abode:

When your visitors rise to take leave you should rise also, and remain standing till they have quite left the room. Do not accompany them to the door, but be careful to ring in good time, that the servant may be ready in the hall to let them out.

Scullery maid

The servants were very much a common sight in Victorian times.

I know that my relatives in that time who lived in Worthing and owned two Bakeries had a maid called Mary.

How she was treated is anyone’s guess but hopefully well.

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