In the Victorian era, homemaking traditions such as setting a formal table were elevated to a fine art. Formal dinners gave Victorian hostesses a great excuse to show off their best china, silverware, stemware and most lavish table centerpieces and adornments. Today, a beautifully set Victorian table can remind us of an era when fine dining at home and proper decorum ruled the day.
Things You'll Need
- White linen tablecloth
- Soup bowls
- Dessert forks
- Dinner forks
- Salad forks
- Dinner knifes
- Fish knifes (if applicable)
- Butter knifes
- Soup spoons
- Water glasses
- Wine glasses
- Sherry glasses or champagne flutes (if desired)
- Linen napkins
- Water pitchers or carafes
- Salt cellars
Cover your table with a white linen tablecloth. Note that while white tablecloths are traditional for Victorian dinners, you could use another color if preferred. You could also use a lace or cotton tablecloth rather than linen.
Place a dinner plate at the center of each setting. Set a soup bowl on top of each dinner plate if you will serve a soup course.
Place the small dessert fork to the immediate left of the dinner place. Set the dinner fork to the left of the dessert fork and position the salad fork to the left of the dinner fork.
Set the largest knife, the dinner knife, to the immediate right of the dinner plate. Place a fish knife to the right of the dinner knife if you will serve fish. Position a butter knife to the right of the fish knife. Omit the fish knife and place the butter knife to the right of the dinner knife if your menu does not include fish. Set a soup spoon to the right of the butter knife.
Arrange your stemware to the right of the place setting, just above the knives and soup spoon. Position the water glass above the dinner knife. Place a wine glass to the right of the water glass. Place a second wine glass to the right of the first or substitute a sherry glass or champagne flute, if desired.
Position a decoratively folded napkin just above the dinner plate on your Victorian table setting. Impress your guests by folding the napkins into elegant Victorian folds such as Bishop's Mitre or Lady Windermere's Fan.
Finish your Victorian table setting by placing a water pitcher or carafe at each corner of your table. Position a silver salt cellar between every two place settings.
Tips & Warnings
- Decorate your Victorian table with decorative crystal or glass bowls filled with fruit or flowers.
- For a traditional Victorian table setting, all of the tableware, stemware and silverware must match. You may disregard the matching pieces rule if you are not bothered by the traditional inaccuracy.
- "The Perfect Setting;" Peri Wolfman and Charles Gold; 1995
- Victoria and Albert Museum: A Victorian Table Setting
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