I was asked to pen the below for PR company ‘Premier PR’ to help launch the DVD of Series 3 of ‘Downton Abbey’.
1. Respect the staff! They can’t survive without you, and you can’t survive without them! True men of Downton treat their butler, valet & footmen with the greatest of respect and hold them in the highest regard.
2. A gentleman never wears a hat indoors. Boaters, toppers and bowlers should all be removed upon entering a building. Your wives and mothers, on the other hand, are allowed to wear hats indoors as they are part of their outfit and not an accessory.
3. When the ladies repair into the drawing room after dinner, gentlemen are to rise from their seats until they have left the room. Similarly, at the start of a luncheon or dinner, do not sit until the ladies have been seated. It is good manners to help the lady to your right into their seat if there is not a footman to hand.
4. When visiting your friends’ estates, it is good form to leave a tip for any of their staff that may have looked after you during your stay. Ask your host how much you should leave.
5. Many dinners at Downton are White Tie affairs, although in recent times Black Tie has been creeping in. When White Tie is the order of the evening, remember not to flick the tails of your tailcoat theatrically as you sit down. That is the reserve of concert pianists.
6. Whether White or Black Tie, the hallmark of a true gentleman is that he knows how to tie a bow tie (even if Thomas or Moseley the valets help out from time to time). Ready-made bow ties just will not do.
7. After dinner, gentlemen will linger in the dining room to talk about more serious topics of conversation that may tax the ladies’ brains too much. This should only last twenty minutes or so, but during this time Port may be offered. It is passed to the left and the guest of honour pours first.
8. When wearing a waistcoat, a gentleman always has the bottom button unfastened. This custom is thought to come from the reign of Edward VII. His waistline was ever expanding and so he could not fasten his button, and so it was considered impolite for his courtiers (and then subjects) to fasten theirs.
9. When on a country shoot be sure to tip the loader afterwards (£20). Loaders literally load your guns and carry them – like caddies in golf.
10. Stubble is not on the cards for a gentleman. Men are clean-shaven or have facial hair – there is no in-between. Moustaches or beards must be well kept and neat.
11. Many women will judge a man by their shoes. Maybe Lady Edith is still single due to her high footwear standards? If a man cannot look after his shoes, then will he be able to look after a woman? Take pride in your footwear – clean shoes regularly, not just when they need to be cleaned.
12. A gentleman never discusses money, which may be why Lord Grantham is a bit prickly as to discussing running the estate with Matthew. Talking about how much one earns, or how much something cost is the height of vulgarity and is very gauche. Money talk can embarrass others and anything that could possibly cause awkwardness is to be avoided.