Clearly, he must have manners, humour, humility, talent and courage, but there will always be more materialistic giveaways, too

A member of the Athenaeum once put up a notice after his umbrella was taken from the cloakroom. It read: ‘Will the nobleman who has taken my umbrella please return it.’ A friend asked: ‘How do you know it’s a nobleman?’ He replied: ‘The rules state that this club is for gentlemen and noblemen, and no gentleman would take my umbrella.’

According to Somerset Maugham, the only value of being a gentleman lay in the fact that it wasn’t a pretence (he also said it was almost impossible to be one and a writer), but with the world changing faster than a baton handover in an Olympic relay, is it possible to have a definitive picture of one? Clearly, he must have manners, humour, humility, talent and courage, but there will always be more materialistic giveaways, too.

Gentlemen then and now

1912                                        2012

The Proms                               Glastonbury
The Quorn                               Duke of Beaufort’s
Rolls-Royce                            Land Rover Discovery
Baden-Baden                           Rock
Royal Ascot                             Glorious Goodwood
Guinea fowl                             Venison
Bloomsbury Group                  Hay Festival
Norfolk                                    Dorset
Henley                                     Henley
Shooting at Elveden                 Shooting at Alnwick
Belgravia                                  Fulham
Moustache                                Clean-shaven
Cigarettes                                 Nicorette
Rudyard Kipling                       Antony Beevor
Tobogganing in St Moritz         Skiing in Val d’Isère
Rectory                                      Old Rectory
Ballroom dancing                       Strictly Come Dancing
Claret                                          New Zealand Pinot Noir
Epsom salts                                San Pellegrino
Wisden                                       Wisden
H. M. Bateman                           Matt
Fagging                                       Counselling
African grey parrot                     Buff Orpington
Scotland in August                     Scotland in August
Manservant                                 No servant
Kedgeree                                    Muesli with blueberries
Bread-and-butter pudding          Sticky-toffee pudding
Fob watch                                   Diving watch
Gertrude Jekyll                          Arabella Lennox-Boyd
Dining room                               Kitchen
Herbaceous border                     Wildflower meadow
Royal Yacht Squadron                Royal Yacht Squadron
Arthur Conan Doyle                   Sebastian Faulks
The Savoy Grill                          The Wolseley
Nightshirt                                  Turnbull & Asser pyjamas
Ironed newspaper                      Today
English setter                             Black labrador
Whist                                         BBC Ten O’Clock News
White tie                                    No tie
12-bore                                      20-bore
New pair of Purdeys                  Grandfather’s Purdeys
Catching lots of salmon in Scotland   Catching no salmon in Scotland
Polo in India                               Polo in Midhurst

Five perfect gentlemen

Sir Walter Raleigh for courtesy

The Light Brigade for heroism when facing certain death

Beau Brummell for exquisite dressing

Ernest Shackleton for rescuing his men

Lord Carrington for knowing when to resign

Five gentlemen of literature

Lord Peter Wimsey

The Scarlet Pimpernel (Sir Percy Blakeney)

Mr Knightley

Raffles

Richard Hannay

Five things a gentleman would never do

Holiday in Florida

Own a yacht without sails

Wear fuschia socks

Order Cristal Champagne

Plant a hanging basket

** Read the 39 steps to being a gentleman

  • Holly

    Yes just to clarify of course the ‘What makes a modern gentleman’ piece was light-hearted and it’s always interesting to see what people think themselves!
    Holly

  • Rosemarie Williams

    Hello,

    I enjoyed the article from 14th June ‘What Makes A Modern Gentleman’. However, I see some people are really baffled by it and I thought it was a light-hearted tongue-in-cheek article. Would you please let me know if this is true?

    Many thanks.

  • Victor Agius

    A Gentleman or Lady is one who knows enough to know

  • G.R. Buckhorn

    I believe CL has mixed up ‘gentleman’ with ‘celebrity’ which is a pity. Still today, one of the rules of a gentleman is that he does not have to be a man of great means. Show good manners, yes, but that does not mean that David Beckham, who seem to be a perfectly nice fellow, is a gentleman. I am happy, though, to see that ‘Henley’ is still in the list. Talking about Henley [Royal Regatta], another flaw in your article is that a gentleman would not wear pink socks. Of course he would, especially if he is a member of Leander Club, the famous rowing club in Henley.

  • Clifford Kirk

    …and technically, it was my gardener who planted the hanging basket.

  • Clifford Kirk

    Damn! Condemned by a hanging basket…