It is enough to make a butler lose his composure. For Downton Abbey has been accused of basic etiquette errors – by the lady of the house.
The Countess of Carnarvon, the mistress of Highclere Castle where the series is filmed, has criticised the ITV1 drama’s repeated faux pas.
Among them, says Lady Carnarvon – who writes a blog in which she reveals how a stately home should really be run – are the incorrect setting of the table for dinner and the lack of servants.
‘It’s the little details,’ she says. ‘Glasses are back to front and things are set wrong.
‘Setting up the table is an art. Knives, forks and spoons are set from the outside in, beginning with the bread knife and working through each course to cheese.
‘A pat of butter is impressed with the intertwined Cs and coronet and placed in front of each guest.
‘The wine glasses and water tumbler are arranged to the top right of each setting. Downton prefer a different arrangement.
‘I don’t want to step on people’s toes so I’ve tried a few times to say, “Do you know you’re setting the table wrong?” I do feel, after all, that it’s my dining table and obviously we wouldn’t set it like that.