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Wednesday, July 7, 2010

A Victorian Dining Room

The Victorian dining room, large and heavily decorated, served as one of the most important rooms in a Victorian house, and reflected the wealth of the owner. Walls were usually bronze, maroon, or black. Gold and olive designs bordered the wainscoting, and massive thicknesses of rich material draped the windows. A sideboard and buffet both held glassware and china. Accessories adding to the elegance of the dining area might be stuffed birds in a cage, fernery, and a folding screen.
A well-dressed table could hold as many as 24 pieces of silver at each place setting. It was not unusual to have eight forks, such as a fish fork, a dinner fork, and an ice cream fork. Knives, each propped on a knife stand, were several, for butter, cheese, game, fruit and other servings a guest might choose. Included in the place setting would be a butter pick and individual game shears.
Two rows of stemware were arranged left to right; a green glass for sauterne, a sherry glass, a red glass for Rhine wine—the display was endless.
To the left of the plate, lying on a napkin, would be a thin, unbuttered slice of bread. In the middle of the table sat a huge centerpiece flanked by bowls of fruit, cake stands, as well as coffee sets, celery vases, and sugar bowls like the glass one above.
A nine-course dinner was not unusual, during which each guest took their time to enjoy each course.
My next post will be about dining room etiquette and manners before, during, and after a meal.


catslady said...

I'm glad I don't have to set a table like that. I wonder if they had an obesity problem with 9 course meals lol. I gather they were a lot more active than we are today. The tables most have looked gorgeous!

Joyce Elson Moore said...

Hi Catslady: Beautiful tables, yes, but think of all that silverware to be polished, washed, and dried. Of course ladies with tables set that elaborately would have servants to do the silver polishing. But the meals must have been romantic, for sure.