PUBLISHED: 05:28 08 December 2014

What has happened to table manners?

What has happened to table manners?

Archant Norfolk © 2014

When I told my son to sit up straight and take his elbows off the table, he said "But why?" Well, what could I say? I have absolutely no idea why - it's just not the done thing!

IaHumpty Dumpty BreweryIaHumpty Dumpty Brewery

When I told my son to sit up straight and take his elbows off the table, he said “But why?” Well, what could I say? I have absolutely no idea why – it’s just not the done thing! Just as, I’ve seen so many times recently, holding one’s knife like a pen or stabbing food with one’s fork held in a clenched fist isn’t either.

When we eat it’s because we need to refuel, but it’s also a social occasion – so that’s where the good manners bit comes in. At least it used to be, when the whole family regularly sat round the table together to enjoy a meal and have a conversation – although, we mustn’t of course talk with our mouths full! Perhaps that’s the problem; as fewer families sit down together, so are table manners no longer being taught?

In the early 15th century men wore hats at the table to keep their long hair out of their food, and forks were used for cooking with but not for eating with. We used our fingers to eat our food and blew our noses on the tablecloth. How many people even own a tablecloth now?

In taverns and inns in the Middle Ages, customers were told what to do in order for everyone to have a fair share of the food. Later on, table manners became more refined with the introduction of fine tableware by the wealthy, which gradually trickled down to the middle and lower classes.

Nowadays it seems to me that a lack of basic table manners can quite easily been seen as a lack of common decency. Perhaps we should give thought to what Mrs Beeton said: “All creatures eat, man only dines”!

What do you think? Have we lost our manners? Write to Feedback, EDP Norfolk Magazine, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich, NR1 1RE or email

The Taylor taste test

Humpty Dumpty Brewery was set up in buildings behind the old Railway Tavern in Reedham in 1998. It moved to Church Road in the village, and was taken over in 2006 by two families, Lesley and Stephen George and Craig and Mary Anne Fermoy.

We tried three beers and thoroughly enjoyed them all:

East Anglian Pale Ale – 4.6pc alcohol by volume (ABV) is a light amber colour with a citrusy and very refreshing taste. It has a hoppy bitter yet still smooth finish.

Humpty Dumpty Ale – 4.1pc ABV is the brewery’s flagship best bitter. It is a dark amber colour, quite malty and full with a fragrant and spicy after-taste.

Redmill – new for 2014, this is a dark, reddish tan colour with a lively fizz and big head. Fresh, yet malty with a full hoppy finish.

You can find Humpty Dumpty beers in pubs, including the brewery’s locals, The Ship on Reedham Riverside and Reedham Ferry, and at farm shops and other outlets throughout Norfolk, or purchase it directly from the brewery.

Humpty Dumpty Brewery, Church Road, Reedham, NR 13 3TZ; 01493 701818;

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