Posts Tagged 'Royal'

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

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

The Greatest Minefield of All: The Season

The ‘Season’ begins in just under a month’s time and is a uniquely British thing.  In these days of a so-called classless society it is quite amazing that this totally inimitable feat of social engineering continues to hold such sway.  Perhaps it is entirely because it is such a change from the mundane that it remains so popular!

The Season came about primarily in the 19th century, and its heyday was reached during the reign of the gregarious King Edward VII.  Since then, we have witnessed two world wars, banking crashes and the horrors of the credit crunch, and whilst there are bound to be some financial casualties this year, particularly where corporate sponsorship is concerned, many of the events of ‘the season’ seem to attract ever increasing crowds.  Attendance at most is not cheap, but because corporate sponsorship has boosted entry many people will be invited to at least one event this year through work or friends.  Our intention is to give a basic guide – but do email us for more specific assistance!

Blooms from 2008's show

Blooms from 2008's RHS Chelsea Flower Show

Debutantes went out in the 1950s as a result of The Queen’s ‘modernisation of the Monarchy’, although the Berkeley Dress Show and the Paris Crillon Ball have been revived to rave reviews – aspiring young ladies no longer need to be presented at Court, nor do they necessarily want to find a wealthy and eligible bachelor for long term wedded bliss, but instead perhaps enjoy a chance to show off a pretty dress and meet some new friends, whilst the aspirations of good manners, correct dress codes and a little bit of gentility in our increasingly hectic lives is cutting the mustard.

Officially, the ‘season’ is a three month period from May to July when in days gone by, the Court and fashionable society were in town (London).  During winter months, the ruling classes spent time at their country estates hunting, shooting and fishing – nowadays many do not even own one home let alone two – but the Chelsea Flower Show, this year from 18th May, continues to herald the start.

The English Manner always has a presence at Chelsea, usually with guests who are taking part in one of our guided garden tours, and if the weather is good, it is a wonderfully English way to kick-start summer.  The Derby follows, and then Royal Ascot, possibly the most famous race meeting in the world, presenting an opportunity to wear that fabulous outfit and out of this world hat, whilst picnicking on smoked salmon, strawberries and champagne at the side of the course – in Number One car park, of course!

After Ascot and The Queen’s Birthday Parade, we have Wimbledon, Glorious Goodwood and the Festival of Speed, and for the sailing fraternity, The Royal Henley Regatta and Cowes Week, preceded by Cartier International Polo Day – always a firm fixture in the social calendar and now attracting a celebrity crowd from all over the world.

Packed tightly in between all of these are myriad charity events, timed to perfection to attract the most likely donors, and to give credibility to all that partying!  Coupled with the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair and Hampton Court Flower Show, those who have the money, the time and the inclination, can have a jolly good time!

Of all the summer events, I think Royal Ascot is probably the one we think of more often than not when we talk about ‘the Season’, and it was here that the term ‘Royal Enclosure’ began.  King George IV invented the idea of entertaining his private friends, and the idea of a private or select area quickly caught on for Centre Court at Wimbledon, the Stewards’ Enclosure at Henley – where entry is even more restricted than Ascot – and the Member’s Enclosures at Polo.  As the names imply, entry is limited, often to the cognoscenti and ‘who you know’, and there are essential elements of dressing up as well as certain rules and traditions.

As ‘the season’ unfolds, we will give you some do’s and don’ts on protocol and customs.

Alexandra Messervy
Founder, The English Manner


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