Curious Seating Arrangements | Valentina Cirasola | Interior Designer

I think Downton Abbey, the famous TV series, worldwide famous British TV series has revived the good manners custom, sitting properly keeping good posture, and elegant dialogues where “vulgarity is no substitute for wit”, said Maggie Smith. The series has brought to light traditional customs of kindness, gentility, and elegance of movements to astonish the whole world that has watched the series with the face stuck to the TV for six years and still watching. I am one of them. I loved this program so much, that I bought the entire series since it stopped and watch it every year from October to January.

Watching the shows, I have been very attentive to details and never missed one.
I could not help noticing the seating arrangements for breakfast and dinner. At breakfast, Lord Grantham sits at the head of the table, but for dinner, he and his wife Ladyship Cora sit in the middle of the table. Those are the honored positions, only reserved for the hosts, the most important people sit on their right and their left in order of importance, the least important people end up far away at each end of the table.

Downstairs, in the servant dining hall, the butler Mr. Carson is the only one who sits at the head table. He is the authority in the management of the grand house and deserves respect from all the servants. It’s so very different being important upstairs and being important downstairs.

Back in time, at royal courts, Kings or Queens sat at the head of the table surrounded by the most important people close to them on both sides, the rest of the guests sat as far as possible in order of importance, the plebeians sat at the very end of the table, where they couldn’t be heard.

Today, the seating arrangements are slightly different from the Edwardian times of Downton Abbey.

In my native Italy and most of Europe, the host is the most important person at the table and he/she sits at the head table on a chair with or without arms. If an elderly person lives with the family, that person has the honored seat at the head table and nobody starts to eat unless the elderly start first, or say “Bon Appetit”.

In America, the head seat is an armchair, thus there are two on each end of the table.
My friend, an author, Teagan Geneviene, says: “I’ve heard those chairs called “captain’s chairs.” Maybe we Americans are always so contentious at dinner that we have to have someone be the “captain” with the role of trying to keep things civil so meals don’t become food fights.” So funny.

Formal Table Seating For Groups Divisible By Four

Formal Table Seating For Groups Divisible By Four

Anyway, in most houses, a sitting down dinner has pre-assigned seats with place name cards or the host will indicate where the guests will sit. Follow the lead of the host, eat everything in your plate, and when the host stops eating the guests should stop too, it’s just one of many well-mannered dinner customs. Ciao,

Copyright © 2019 Valentina Cirasola, All Rights Reserved

Val in a Hat Shop

It’s my hope that through my writing and my stories I am enriching your aesthetic sensibility towards design, style and inspiring you to live in beauty. I love to encourage my clients to show their personality through their home décor, or the clothes they wear. I have loved my profession as an interior-fashion designer since 1990. Consultations online are available. Check out one of my books on the subject of colors, ©RED-A Voyage Into Colors.


2 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Teagan R. Geneviene
    Oct 21, 2019 @ 23:15:53

    Dear Valentina, thank you for the shout-out. I enjoyed this post very much. In fact, I just ate it up! (Sorry. You know I can’t resist a play on words!) Sharing. Hugs on the wing!



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