The approach of Spring brings with it a new milestone for Charles MacPherson, marking 10 years since the Charles MacPherson Academy opened its doors to incoming students.
We’ve gathered five beloved butlers brought to life by television or film to analyze what each can teach us about the do’s and don’ts of private service. Let’s review:
Charles Carson (Downton Abbey)
Always the consummate professional, the head butler of Edwardian country house Downton Abbey never wavers in his pursuit of private service perfection. Appalled by the slightest deviation in decorum, Mr. Carson runs a tight ship and can be counted on to give sound advice upon request. But while his rigid rule is something to be admired, we worry that this by-the-book butler isn't allowing himself the opportunity to relax on occasion. Remembering that it’s important to balance work and play, we recommend a rowdy night at the nearby Red Lion public house where pal John Bates once tended bar.
For the first time ever under the roof of Toronto’s historic Campbell House Museum, students of the Charles MacPherson Academy gathered last week to hone the art of fine service delivery in a dining setting.
Under the watchful helm of English butler and recognized etiquette expert Mr. John Robertson, students were led through a series of hands-on exercises including napkin folding, the appropriate receiving of guests at the door and the setting of a table for an elegant meal.
“I’ve read about many of the concepts we covered today but being able to implement them first-hand was so helpful,” said student India Poole, a former nanny from Chicago who hopes to transition to a career in household management.
“Particularly when it came to the napkin folding,” she added, after trying her hand at different styles in Campbell House’s rustic Robinette room. “I’ve always concentrated on getting that perfect fold, but learning to focus my attention on the corners was new to me.”
In the afternoon students made their way to the manor’s 19th century dining room, where they handled china and crystal with silk gloves and learned to transition the rules and protocol of societies past to the contemporary.
Carefully reviewing each facet of the highest quality of service, Mr. John Robertson imparted many of his own personal experiences to students from his history both as butler to senior members of the British aristocracy and house manager to affluent, modern families.
“Plan, organize, implement, control,” Mr. Robertson said to busy students as they gently set down salad plates to the right of their colleagues, poured wine in their glasses and announced to all that dinner was served in proper manner.