What would Carson say? Downton Abbey accused of making dining faux pas

The period drama's etiquette and manners just aren't up to scratch says real-life lady of the house Countess Carnarvon

Heavens above! Downton Abbey has been accused of etiquette errors – and by none other than the lady of the house herself. 


It seems that when Violet Crawley and Lord Grantham sit down to dine at Downton, their table isn’t set correctly. And according to Countess Fiona Carnarvon – the real-life lady of Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed – they don’t have a sufficient number of servants to cater to their needs, either. What a to-do.

Lady Carnarvon has opened up about her concerns when it comes to Downton Abbey’s silverware and crockery, saying that the tables are set “wrong” and that she has given up trying to correct the crew…

“It’s the little details,” she said. “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… The wine glasses and water tumblers are arranged to the top right of each setting.”

But it seems “Downton prefer a different arrangement”. And Lady Carnarvon has given up telling them that this “different” arrangement is, in fact, just wrong.

“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?’” she told the Sunday Times. “I do feel, after all, it’s my dining table and obviously we wouldn’t set it like that. They look at me blankly and I sort of try once more and then I give up…and not I try not to look because its easier.”

It seems someone is dropping the ball. Perhaps Carson hasn’t been doing his job properly…

Lady Fiona is the eighth countess of Carnarvan and lives in the Berkshire stately home with her husband. She writes a blog on the running of Highclere – and her most recent book Lady Catherine and the real Downton Abbey is being released in the UK later this week.

Downton Abbey returns to our screens later this month for its fourth series. Let’s hope the knives and forks are in the right place, eh?