Travel Notebook

Modern Manners with David Morgan-Hewitt of The Goring

May 8th, 2018

With the upcoming wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on Saturday, May 19th, we thought what better time to delve into the world of modern manners, and in particular, the etiquette rules for which the English have such a penchant. Whether you’re fortunate enough to be in attendance at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle on the big day, simply in the neighborhood as a guest at Great Fosters, or waking up early in America to watch the nuptials on television, consider these modern-day etiquette edicts from guest blogger David Morgan-Hewitt of The Goring:

St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle. Photo by Jack Pease Photography.

Surviving the Season

This is always the most wonderfully joyful party time – but it is fraught with pitfalls. There are always rules you have to follow. Umbrellas should be taken to Chelsea as it always seems to rain at least one day. And do take sensible shoes. You are going to do a lot of walking around the grounds seeing the Show Gardens and the Great Marquee.

Gentlemen, send your tailcoat off to the cleaners and ensure it is ready for the rigors ahead. Ascot will require it, The Derby needs it and, if you are lucky enough to go to a garden party at the Palace, you will require it again.

Ladies have a much tougher time! What will you wear for Ascot? Which colors are in this year? Will it be big hats or fascinators for all? Then there is Henley Royal Regatta – dresses must be below the knee and hat or not?

So. Start to check the clothes now. Choose the correct shoes for the occasion and the weather. Fasten the hat down firmly, ladies (wind only blows when you are wearing a hat). And don’t forget the brolly. Be prepared – that is the way to survive the season.

Doors, Seats and Such

Opening doors, rising from one’s seat if a woman leaves the table, surrendering your seat, walking on the outside of the pavement if passing a woman – all of these manners were taught to me from a very early age and they are still with me today. However, many have forgotten them. Sadly, some women even discourage them as old-fashioned and outdated, arguing that men and women are equal and there should be none of this nonsense!

Well, I strongly disagree. Of course, men and women are equal, but good manners are so important to a sophisticated society and they respect other people in a world fast losing the art of respect. So, give up your seats – and make somebody smile! Open a door – let a woman go first. Get up from your chair. Watch how there will be smiles. And at this time of such trouble in the world, smiles are so important.

Other People’s Smoke

Things changed when a smoking ban was imposed across the UK. It meant that in restaurants and hotels (as well as pubs and bars), the smokers were unable to light up indoors anywhere in public rooms. For many, this has proved to be the final shove to help them give up – but for others, it has meant a trip outdoors every time the urge becomes uncontrollable.

Many hotels have tried to find little cubby holes around the place that smokers can retire to when the need arises. For us here at The Goring, this is not too much of a problem. We have gardens somewhat bigger than the Centre Court at Wimbledon. So even in the snows of winter, some guests were to be found walking around the grounds enjoying their vice.

In the warmer months, we open our Veranda for alfresco dining overlooking those gardens. We are the only outdoor dining location in a London hotel not next to the hustle, bustle and noise of a major road. The peace and tranquility of the Gardens is perfect for enjoying the summer menu.

But what of the etiquette for smokers and nonsmokers? Well, it is all about the consideration of others. If the people at the next table have just received their fresh oysters – don’t blow cigar smoke at them! If you have finished your lunch and are enjoying coffee, don’t get offended by a cigarette being enjoyed two tables away. We may not all like to smoke, and we may actively dislike smoking, but above all, we should be considerate of the needs of others to enjoy the habit and of others to be free from the pollution. After all, there is plenty of fresh air in the garden.

Thank you, David, for sharing these insights into modern manners, certainly apropos in a world that is fast losing genuine, face-to-fact interactions and niceties. (Ironically the word etiquette stems from the French word “estiquette,” which means “label” – and instead of holding fast, manners seem to be slipping in recent times.)

For past modern manners posts from David, please visit his blog. And for more information on The Goring, Great Fosters or any of our Rebecca Recommends clients, please be in touch with us. We love to hear from you.

The Goring’s David Morgan-Hewitt