Etiquette for Formal Hall Dinners

The following is intended to make you comfortable with Formal Hall traditions, and also to act as a general guide towards expected behaviour during dinner.

  • Diners should arrive in good time and be seated by 7.15pm (late arrivals should check with the duty supervisor, and then make their apologies to the Principal, or the Senior Fellow on High Table).
  • A Scholar is expected to read the grace at the start of every Formal Hall. If no Scholar is present, the Principal or Senior Fellow will read a shortened version. At the end of the meal, anyone who wishes to leave early should wait until permission has been granted by the Principal or Senior Fellow (permission to leave is usually sought by the Scholar who read the grace).
  • Members who bring guests to formal hall are reminded that they are responsible for the behaviour of their guests during the meal.
  • Diners are expected to show respect for other diners and staff.  The Hall Manager, or his Deputy, is authorised to ask anyone exhibiting drunken or rowdy behaviour to leave Hall.
  • ‘Drinking games’ are not permitted.
  • To avoid any accidents during food service, diners should remain seated throughout the meal.  For the same reason coats and bags should be placed on the shelves provided at the entrance to Hall.
  • Mobile telephones should be switched off before entering Hall.
  • By its definition, formal hall is a formal meal, and is governed by certain guidelines and rules set down to allow all college members to enjoy the occasion. Any breach of these rules may result in the expulsion from Hall of the offender(s).
  • Gowns are worn to Formal Hall on Thursdays.