Posts Tagged 'Britain'



The Modern Student

A teacher at my old school once remarked to me in a conversation about higher education, “University is a reward for the intellectual, where one can do as one pleases and do very little work for a period of three years”. However true or false this may be, it seems that many contemporary students have misinterpreted this concept. It is certainly not a rest or lapse period for decency and basic courtesy.

Student life is something that most of us have looked forward to from our early teens: we break away from our parents and begin to become our own person. We become domesticated, we become mature; we become adults. Alas, it isn’t quite as straight forward as that. The average student dresses in baggy, comfortable clothes, goes out drinking at least five times a week, and probably comes close to (or actually partakes) in dealing in substances of disrepute. We are only young once, however, so perhaps such behaviour is acceptable.

Yet, just because we are students, it doesn’t mean to say that we actually have to behave like them. Nevertheless, this is not a call for us to attend lectures in morning suits and address our peers with high reverence and grandiose language. A modern, savvy student is someone who respects and considers those around him. Many adults get cross with students and their lifestyle – perhaps they are jealous – they argue that they are slovenly and uncouth. Maybe they are right: there are times when one really doesn’t want to be formal or worry too much about what others think.

However, I argue that University is a journey, a bridge. It marks a transition between childhood and adulthood. There used to be no word for the inter-regnum, until someone created the concept of a ‘student’. A majority of students subconsciously believe that we become adults the moment we graduate, and this grants us with an excuse to behave as we wish for the three or four years in between. This is not the case. We become adults during the period of our enrolment. Some will grasp the (really quite straight forward) concepts of adulthood sooner than others.

As I say regularly, good manners are a skill for life, which will stand anyone in much better stead than any degree or qualification. Clarence Thomas said, “Good manners will open doors that the best education cannot”. Think what you could do with both.

NB: Educated people go to ‘University’. The rest go to ‘Uni’.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Clapped Out: Concert Manners

6a00d83451c83e69e200e54f2a78db8833-800wiGood manners are not a thing of the past and apply to all aspects of modern life, including concerts. We’ve all been at one where the person behind you starts explaining loudly what’s going on to their friend, or continually rustles their programme. Here are some important tips to remember to ensure you behave correctly and respect other concertgoers.

In the Auditorium

If other audience members arrive to take their seat, which is beyond yours, the polite thing for gentlemen to do is stand up to let them have a clearer passage. Women should turn their legs in the direction the person is travelling. People sitting at the end of aisles should get out and stand in the aisle until passage is clear.

Coughs, sneezes and sniffles should be ‘caught’: make sure your wardrobe on the evening includes a handkerchief. If the ailment persists, leave the auditorium until it subsides.

Share your programme (American’s call it ‘Playbill’) with others if they ask. There’s no need to be possessive.

During operas, it is usual to applause after the overture, an impressive aria, the end of a scene or act, but never whilst someone is singing. At concerts, it is expected for you to clap between different compositions but never between movements. ‘Whooping’ is never correct. We’re at Mozart not McFly.

At the End of the Evening

Do not leave during the encore or whilst the orchestra is bowing. Wait until the house lights have been taken up before you move.

At the end of the concert or during the interval, save your elaborate critique until you’re behind you own closed doors. Don’t try to impress others by shouting loudly about technical aspects of the music or performance.  Others may have enjoyed the night even if you didn’t; there’s also a chance one of the ‘star’s’ family or friends could be around you.


William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Cowes Week

Hyacinth: Not incorrect but perhaps not that subtle

Hyacinth: Not incorrect but perhaps not that subtle

Cowes Week is the oldest regular regatta in the world. Unlike Henley, which began in 1839, Cowes was first held in 1826. It began following the Prince Regent’s (who became George IV) interesting in yachting. The first race at Cowes was held at 0930 on 10th August. It is now the tradition that Cowes Week takes place on the Solent from the first Saturday after the last Tuesday in July, until the following Saturday.

As well as the boating element, Cowes is much loved for its social cachet. Parties and live music have become as much of a part of the week as the yachts. On the Friday, a firework display is held, with the pyrotechnics being launched from barges around the waterfront. This tradition dates back more than 150 years. People attending Cowes should be aware that this particular tradition may not happen at this year’s event due to lack of funding.

Now, what to wear? Alexandra Messervy, Founder of The English Manner, gives us the following advice: ‘Stick to looking the part in deck shoes, sunglasses, windproof gear and a chance to wear that perfect Hermes headscarf (or a good imitation from tie Rack!) – and there are plenty of wonderful wellies around if the weather is wet’.

Also – for gentlemen that wish to wear blazers please don’t have an emblem on the top-pocket. Very Non-U.

Do also remember that if you get the chance to go on board one of the yachts, it is required that you do not board until given permission. Once on deck, soft-soled shoes or no shoes at all.

The English Manner are always happy to answer any specific comments about any aspect of protocol. Please see our website for contact details, or just comment on this blog post.

William Hanson
Tutor, The English Manner

Not Just About Napkins: The English Manner’s Garden Tours

One of the highlights of The English Manner ‘learning with a difference’ programmes are our highly sought after and exclusive Garden Tours.  Groups of guests (usually around 2 to 18 people) are whisked around the countryside – usually England, Scotland and Wales, but occasionally France and Ireland – visiting private gardens and houses of note, accompanied by a wealth of experts and owners.

Coffinpictures06 341Like everything we at The English Manner provide, every aspect of our tours are organised down to the last detail.  From the moment guests leave their own house to the moment they return, we look after them memorably.  Accommodation is in the finest private houses or country house hotels, food and wine is a highlight of the day, and because groups are small, master classes are much more meaningful.  Each programme is bespoke and takes into account the background knowledge and specific interests of the guests, their agility and desire for little or much activity, and we offer a wide range of visits to demonstrate the versatility of gardens, architecture and design.  Masterclasses may be led by Royal Gardens Advisor Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Penelope Hobhouse, Tim Penrose or Mary-Ann Robb, and tickets are usually available for the RHS Chelsea Flower Show or Hampton Court Palace.

This year’s main tour was centred around the Cotswolds, with the theme of the English country house style gardens of Nancy Lancaster and NorahYarlingtongallery1 Lindsay, and our guests from Virginia were enchanted by Cottesbrooke Hall, private gardens in Northamptonshire, Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire including Rockcliffe and Quenington, and a private tour of the Abbey House Gardens in Malmesbury, with Barbara Pollard.  A visit to the final home of Nancy Lancaster before a day at Chelsea helped add the icing to the cake after a tour of the garden of a well known VIP which is completely inaccessible to the general public.  These visits, accompanied by local produce in award winning luxury country house surroundings, made for a truly outstanding tour, and we are already planning some exciting ideas for 2010.

Come and join us!  Novices welcome, no need to own a Palace, just enjoy the landscape and all that our gardens and talented gardeners can offer will be yours.

Making accessible the inaccessible………

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner

CLA Game Fair

shootingThe Country Landowners Association (CLA) Game Fair is this year held on 24 – 26th July at Belvoir Castle and is well attended by well over 100,000 visitors every year.

Most of the attendees are not landowners themselves, but are interested in the countryside, country life and country sports such as shooting and fishing.

First held in 1958 to encourage the return of shooting as a sport after the end of the Second World War, the fair moves to a different site every year – with over 500 acres of grassland needed to host the event together with at least 1000 feet of good riverbank fishing, finding a suitable venue is no mean feat and past locations have included Harewood House, Chatsworth, Blenheim and Stratfield Saye.

Together with displays of country sports and competitions, a multitude of trade stands have encouraged many more visitors over the past few years, selling everything from 4×4 vehicles to guns from Purdey and clothing by Barbour, Burberry and Joules and the great British wellie from Hunters and Dubarry.

Dress is relaxed, but if visitors are invited into the CLA Members’ Enclosure ensure casual but tidy, with jacket and tie for men.  Flat caps are actively encouraged here!

The English Manner are more than happy to advise attendees of this or any other event. See our website (www.theenglishmanner.com) for contact details or comment on this blog post.

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner

Henley Royal Regatta

Henley is the third major event of the summer season after Royal Ascot and Wimbledon.  First staged in 1839, The Henley Royal Regatta takes place over the first weekend in July (from Wednesday to Sunday) in the town of Henley-on-Thames.

Whilst people often know quite a bit about racing and tennis, less is known about rowing and guests often visit Henley with little knowledge, and come away with not much more!  A rarity in boating events, the regatta pre-dates any international or national controlling body and as such has its own rules and organisation, although both the Amateur Rowing Association and the International Federation of Rowing Associations recognise the event. Stewards who are mostly former rowers themselves control the races.

The river view at Henley

The river view at Henley

The regatta can be viewed from several locations along both banks of the river Thames, although viewing areas for the general public are largely on the Berkshire side of the river. The Buckinghamshire side is limited to private clubs and residences as well as the odd bit of corporate entertainment and entry is not too expensive.  Young people have a fantastic time, and there are many opportunities for picnics with a really fun day out. The course is one mile and 550 yards long and there are 16 events over the programme.  It is relatively easy to attend via the Regatta Enclosure, but membership of the Stewards Enclosure is limited to 6000 and there is a very long waiting list of people wishing to join, who must be proposed by existing members, rather like entry to the Royal Enclosure at Royal Ascot.  There is a one-off membership fee and an annual subscription.  Members of the Royal Family do not often attend, although HRH Prince Michael of Kent can sometimes be spotted!

The event takes place during the first part of summer so the weather can be mixed. Henley is the right place to wear blazers, or cocktail dresses (and possibly a hat) for the ladies, although keen rowing fanatics may wish to get on board one of the Umpires launches and so something a little sturdier may be needed.  Ladies must wear a dress which covers their knees and are not allowed trousers or culottes.  Men must wear lounge suits or blazers with flannels and a tie or cravat, and if sporting a boater, these must be genuinely acquired  from a school rowing team or a rowing club.  Designer blazers are frowned upon, plain navy is best!  The most distinctive dress at Henley will be a cerise pink cap and tie:  this is the dress of the Leander Club, an almost exclusive body comprising those who have rendered special service to rowing.

A popular event in the corporate entertainment calendar, Henley is very male, very English and very charming.

The English Manner (www.theenglishmanner.com) are always happy to advise event-goers on dress or protocol. Please feel free to contact us for advice.

William Hanson & Alexandra Messervy
The English Manner


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