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Daily Schedule: Evening

The evening routine in the country for our Georgian era heroes and heroines

Dinner was, traditionally, eaten at midday during what we would consider to be lunch. The time moved later the more affluent the family (and as years rolled forward). The standard dinner time for a modest-income family would be around 3pm, gentry more around 5pm, and then the wealthy any time after (even as late as 8pm!). The time served had as much to do with one’s daily schedule and evening plans as anything, so that’s something to keep in mind.

Dinner was the heartiest meal of the day and the most formal. Typically between 2-3 courses. A note on “courses”: footmen did not exchange plates with the next course, rather they laid the course on the table, and then one could choose what one wanted on their plate from the array of food in the centre. Gentlemen always served ladies so the ladies would not have to reach for item after item.

Following dinner was teatime. This could be anywhere from 3-6pm for a middling family, or later for the more affluent. Tea was just as it sounds: tea, coffee, cakes, toast, etc. in the drawing room.

Following tea was the primary family time or entertaining time. If a family were home alone, they would enjoy each other’s company or be at leisure together. They might read aloud, play games, write letters separately, etc. If there were guests, entertainment would be provided with games, conversation, piano playing, possibly dancing.

Supper would be the final evening meal, family-only after the guests have left, or the main meal towards the end of a ball. Supper could be at any time, but typically late. If at home, this was a light meal, nothing heavy, but if at a ball, it was hearty and always included soup.

The discrepancies in time, especially for dinner, had as much to do with how late the evening hours were (the more affluent, the more entertaining they did in the evenings), as did the cost of lighting for the evening (the more affluent, the more likely to light the dining room with candles after dusk).

Read more from Jane Austen's World:

Jane Austen's Regency Women: A Day in the Life Evening

Daily Schedule in the Regency Era

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