Recently “Downton Abbey” galloped across the lawn and into television history with its much-anticipated grand finale. Downtonites must now grieve the loss of dinner gloves and under butlers.

The series detailed the life and times of the English aristocracy and their servants, always an object of fascination for Americans enjoying a peek at standards they left behind. Soon to be missed is dialogue such as “You should really be riding side saddle, it’s so much more graceful,” said his lordship.

“And dangerous,” rejoined Lady Mary. Moments later, hounds baying, she falls off just the same.

As did many others, including men who rode astride. When it comes to fox hunts, “Downton Abbey” glosses over the broken bones, black eyes and the often lost tooth suffered by the landed gentry, including the white stock secured around the rider’s neck with a special pin that could double as a tourniquet if needed. Female riders risked being dragged to Kingdom Come by their petticoats, and the purpose of the farewell cup of wine — known as a stirrup cup — before the hunt was to provide liquid courage to those about to ride at breakneck speed.

Even on a good day, riders risked embarrassment when they fell off. This happened so often it’s memorialized in a series of English cartoon engravings called Fore’s Hunting Casualties, which occasionally still come up for auction.

Speaking of hunt etiquette, riders could and still can carry a pocket flask or a bayonet-style one in a holster attached to the front of the saddle. The passing around and partaking of the flask is a long-standing hunt tradition.

And no doubt contributes to unintentional dismounts.

Patricia Gannon covers society for The Acadiana Advocate. She can be reached at

Bridesmaids luncheon

Magnolia leaves and grandmother’s silver welcomed bride-to-be Kristie Lynn Carline and her bridal party to a celebratory luncheon at Zea. Hosted by Shelby Frugé and Kate Brady, vintage table linens, heirloom silver and individual menus in French set the scene, while elsewhere sweet olive, azaleas and vintage family wedding photos were displayed alongside a newspaper wedding announcement from 1891. It was grand Southern tradition at its finest, and enjoying the elegant ambiance was mother of the groom Doris Regan Tatford, mother of the bride Lynne Guidry Carline, maid of honor Emily Carline, tea girl Vivian Claire Frugé, bridesmaids Sarah Barbato, Maria Tatford, Elyse Tatford and Madeleine Ortte, and, of course, the bride herself, dressed in a spring sleeveless white ensemble with peplum. No detail was overlooked, and guests took home white linen sachets as a remembrance. The bride and her groom, Willie Tatford, will marry on April 1 at Our Lady of Wisdom Catholic Church in Lafayette.

DAR Ball

George Washington would have been proud. The Daughters of the American Revolution as well as the Sons presented their debutantes at a formal Petroleum Club Ball. Held annually, the George Washington Ball sees a select few compatriots and ladies recognized for their contributions and lineage in addition to heralding the young ones. This year’s standouts include Kelly Swift, daughter of John and Jan Swift; Jeanie Rush; Danielle Cromwell et famille, and debs from near and far — Cameron Cooke, Lillian Johnson, Madeleine LeBlanc, Elizabeth Moore, Julienne Saucier and Nadia Vreeland, whose presentation gown was the prettiest we’ve ever seen.

Phi Mu Luncheon

They were over 400 strong at the UL-Lafayette Student Union ballroom for the Phi Mu “Hats Off to Sixty Years” luncheon. Bouquets of pink and white balloons decorated the tables as the sisters gathered from near and far. “This is the largest celebration we’ve ever had, both collegians and alumnae” said Janice LeBlanc, and, on behalf of the next generation, daughter Avery added, “It’s nice to be able to follow along in something that’s important to her.” Baton Rouge-proud were Renée Nebel, Katherine Nebel and Marvis Cadwallader, just plain proud were Ramona and Brooke Hebert (Brooke is the first intellectually disabled Greek member in Louisiana and the second in the nation), Ohioan and National President Beth Monnin, mother-daughter duo Taylor and Mona Duncan, Fete column fan Sandi Hebert and real-life sisters Kiki Frayard, Marilyn Castle and Joan Dubuisson.