The following points about etiquette apply to all formal functions, and are to be observed by members of the Company and their guests.
Members and their guests should always adopt the dress code stated on the invitation card. Details of various dress codes are set out below:-
Gentlemen – Full evening dress and white tie with decorations. This consists of a cut-away black evening tail coat, white shirt with wing collar, white waistcoat, and black trousers.
Ladies – Long gowns; shoulders should be covered, although a wrap is quite acceptable for this purpose. The custom of ladies wearing long white gloves with White Tie has rather fallen out of fashion, however it is still perfectly acceptable to do so, should you so desire.
Gentlemen – Black dinner jacket, black bow tie and white shirt. A cummerbund or waistcoat, if worn, should also be black (NB. Coloured bow ties, shirts, waistcoats or cummerbunds are not acceptable, unless otherwise stated on the invitation).
Ladies – Long or medium length dresses
Gentlemen – Dark suit and Company tie or other dark tie.
Ladies – Cocktail dress, day dress or smart trousers.
Members of the Livery should wear their Livery medal on the right breast of the jacket with the top of the ribbon clear of the lapel and in line with the top of the left-hand breast pocket. Ladies may have their medal mounted on a collarette, should they so desire.
Members and their guests should wait to be announced by the Beadle before approaching the receiving line to be greeted by the Master and Wardens. At all times the Master should be referred to as ‘Master’ and not by name;
It is not customary to provide a comfort break during dinner. Consequently, you are advised to make yourself comfortable before the reception concludes;
In order to prevent the proceedings being delayed, it is most important that everyone takes their places at table immediately the Beadle announces that dinner is about to be served.
No one should leave the dining table during a function, other than in the case of an emergency;
It is customary at formal dinners for members to clap the Master, Wardens and principal guests, as they process into and out of the dining hall;
Grace is said by the Chaplain before sitting down to eat. At formal dinners Grace is also sung following completion of the dessert course;
No-one should commence eating until the Master has started to do so;
Port carafes should always be passed to the left and never across the table, other than at the end of a sprig;
The Rosewater Bowl and the Loving Cup are generally circulated before coffee is served;
At formal dinners the first verse of the National Anthem is sung after the Master has proposed the Loyal Toast. The opening bars of the National Anthem are played after the Master has proposed the toast to ‘The other members of the Royal Family’;
Mobile Telephones & Photography
Mobile phones are to be switched off on entering the Hall and should not be used during any function. A photographer is employed at every major function, and these photographs are freely available to members. Consequently, it is not expected that mobile phones will be used as cameras, and the Beadle has been instructed to enforce this rule.
The Rosewater Bowl
By ancient custom a silver bowl containing rosewater is circulated after dinner and before the speeches. By dipping the corner of your table napkin into the rosewater and patting it behind your ears you stimulate the nerves in this region, which through their connections soothe the digestive organs. Allegedly.
The Loving Cup
The cup is traditionally filled with spiced wine. The custom is said to have originated following the murder of King Edward the Martyr, who was stabbed while drinking by their step-mother Elfrida at Corfe Castle on 18th March 978 AD. Upon rising to drink from the cup, the person to the right and to the left of the drinker also stands. The drinker then bows (or curtseys) to the neighbour to whom the cup will pass, who removes the cover with their right hand. This ensures that the “dagger arm” is employed and eliminates the risk of treachery. Meanwhile, the neighbour on the drinker’s other side turns their back on them ostensibly to protect him from attack from behind whilst in the act of drinking. Having drunk, the drinker applies the napkin to the lip of the cup, the lid is replaced and the drinker and their neighbour bow to one another before passing the cup. The first drinker then turns about to protect the second drinker from attack; thus there are always three people on their feet, the drinker being in the middle. If you do not wish to drink from the cup, it is sufficient gesture of loyalty to receive and pass the cup on to the next guest with a slight bow.
Smoking (tobacco and e-cigarettes) anywhere within the precincts of the Hall is prohibited by law.