The Etiquette Of Skating

During the Victorian era, all of 'the best people' turned to etiquette books for advice on everything from what to wear and how to behave at the dinner table to how to properly entertain guests that called for afternoon tea. As skating parties were invariably a common and popular winter diversion at the time, advice surrounding the etiquette of skating made its way into many of these books and today we'll take a look at some of these pearls of wisdom!

"Dancing, skating, swimming, archery, games of lawn tennis, riding and driving, and croquet, all aid in developing and strengthening the muscles, and should be practiced by ladies. The better the physical training, the more self-possessed and graceful she will be. Open-air exercise is essential to good health and a perfect physical development." - Mrs. Walter R. Houghton, "Rules Of Etiquette And Home Culture: What To Do And How To Do It", 1893

Victorian era postcard of figure skaters with a sleigh

"Be ready at all times when skating to render assistance to any one, either lady or gentleman, who may require it. A gentleman may be distinguished at all times by the willingness with which he will give up his sport to render himself agreeable and kind to any one in difficulty. Should you have one of the skating-sleds so much used for taking ladies on the ice, and should your own ladies, if you are accompanied by any, not desire to use it, the most becoming thing you can do is to place it at the disposal of any other gentleman who has ladies with him, and who is not provided with such a conveyance." - Cecil B. Hartley, "The gentlemen's book of etiquette, and manual of politeness: being a complete guide for a gentleman's conduct in all his relations towards society... from the best French, English, and American authorities", 1873

19th century engraving of Victorian era ice skating

"In skating, a gentleman carries the skates of the lady whom he accompanies. He fastens on her skates, guides, support, and instructs her if she be a novice." - Mrs. H.O. Ward, "Sensible Etiquette Of The Best Society, Customs, Manners, Morals, And Home Culture", 1878

Postcard of Victorian era ice skating

"A gentleman should... be as chivalrous in his behaviour as any knight in the olden time. The ladies, on their side, must not tax the patience of their instructors too severely. It is sometimes days before they are able to stand upon their skates or dare to venture out without a strong arm to lean upon for fear of of a fall. Let them practise by themselves on some small pond, where a tumble with hurt neither them nor their modesty." - Lady Colin Campbell, "Etiquette Of Good Society", 1893

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