The hostess, Ellen Thomas-Stanford, PMPHO000029
In the early twentieth-century, dinner at Preston Manor was generally served at 8.00pm. Guests were announced by the butler, and escorted to the drawing room. After the first course had been laid in the dining room, the butler announced “dinner is served” and the guests proceeded to their places.
Charles Thomas-Stanford, (who married Ellen Stanford in 1887 after the death of her first husband), escorted the senior ranking female guest and she sat at his right hand; the remaining guests were paired according to their rank. At the rear of the procession Ellen Thomas-Stanford accompanied the gentleman of highest rank and he sat at her right hand.
Dinner parties at Preston Manor normally comprised six to twelve guests. When the party was small at least two of the leaves from the dining table were removed to create a more intimate atmosphere. Visitors books and annotated menus indicate that the Stanfords, unsurprisingly, entertained the elite of society as well as family members and friends.