Friday, March 17, 2023

Victorian Manners Part 3: Visiting Etiquette


Once again, I’d like to share some more Victorian Etiquette. My past two posts covered manners. Here are links to both January and February’s posts if you missed them.

Pink Gingerbread Victorian style home from Pinterest

Today I want to share the etiquette of visiting.

    1.  If one is invited to visit and the host expresses no time frame, limit your visit to a week or less.

That rule hasn’t changed much. I’d say closer to three days than a week.

    2. If you receive an invitation for an extended visit, then assume your spouse is welcome. But do not bring children or servants unless that is in the invitation.

If I went to visit friends, I couldn’t imagine not taking my children. But a party invitation  would be different. I  read an account in Farmer Boy by Laura Ingels Wilder where Almanzo’s parents left their four children for a week to visit someone. The oldest child was a teen. There is no way my mother would have left my sisters and me for a week with me in charge. Who listens to their older sister? And the Wilders were farmers and had no servants, so leaving your children alone must have been perfectly acceptable. 

3.   Don’t treat your friend’s house like a hotel, visiting others, transacting business about town, and coming and going at all hours that suit you.

Haven’t we all had that guest who stays at our home but spends little time with us because they were catching up with everyone else?

As for the host:

Texas Visitors from

·      1. When you know the time your guests are to arrive in town, have a carriage ready at the depot. Family members meeting them there will make them feel welcome. Take their baggage-checks and retrieve and put in a conveyance to be taken to your home so they needn’t be bothered with the chore.

2. Have a warm pleasant room ready for your guest, supplied with water, soap, a towel, comb, hairbrush, brush-broom, hat-brush, pomade (hairstyling cream) cologne matches, needles and pins.

    Wow! That’s more than any modern hotel offers its customers.

 Now here are some Nevers for a host and guests

·   1.  Never send your guest, who is accustomed to a warm room, to a cold and damp spare bed to sleep.

·   2. Never cross your legs and put out your foot, in the streetcar aisle, or places where it will trouble others passing by.

·   3. Never examine the names cards in the card basket. While the basket may be in plain view in the drawing-room, you are not permitted to look at them unless you are invited to.

Name cards or calling cards were carried by everyone. When arriving at a home, you gave the card to the servant that answered the door. The host took the card and, based on the name, the servant was instructed which room to place the caller. Then the cards were left in a basket on display in the foyer. I imagine it was a bit prestigious to have a lot of cards on display. 

Victorian Calling cards on Ebay

4. Never should a lady accept expensive gifts from a gentleman not related to or engaged to her. However, gifts of flowers, books, music or sweets may be accepted.

How many of these rules were you brought up with in some form or other?

  Next month I’ll talk about etiquette at the table.

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Cindy Ervin Huff is an Award-winning author of Historical and Contemporary Romance. She loves infusing hope into her stories of broken people. She is addicted to reading and chocolate. Her idea of a vacation is visiting historical sites and an ideal date with her hubby of almost fifty years would be live theater.

Visit her website and sign up for her newsletter and receive some free short stories as a thank you. 


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  1. Thank you for the interesting post today. I am sure that the automobile changed a lot of these rules because stays were probably shorter? I never heard any of these rules before, so I had to think of a reason why.

  2. Cindy, another interesting blog about Victorian etiquette when visiting. I'm interested in the pink Victorian house you got off from Pinterest. It looks like one that is in Georgetown, Colorado and is marked on their historical register. Do you know if it's the same house? Thank you!