Unusual  napkin folds from Mrs Beeton and the Butler Bureau

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Want to show off with your latest napkin fold? Bear in mind that it’s not always welcome - fancy napkin folding is for hotel banqueting rather than day to day domestic service (on the whole). Clients might remain unimpressed! Still....

... for the more standard napkin folds check out the videos - for more unusual napkin folding check out the Mrs Beeton folds. My personal favorite? ‘The Slippper’.

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NAPKIN FOLDS - Why not try something different?

Here at the Butler Bureau we’ve never been overly keen on fancy napkin folding believing that a clean, crisply folded linen napkin is far more ‘classy’ than a fancy fold more suited to a Hotel banqueting table set up.

For me a nice flat fold (or at least a very simple one that is less than 4 inches in height) is preferable to the, let’s face it, same old, same old that you come across all the time.

I certainly have no intention of singing the praises of those boring napkin folds ( see the videos on the right) which are fine - boring but fine - BUT I’m a great believer in trying to be a tad different on occasion hence the Beeton folds that I like.

“Never trust the food in a restaurant, on top of the tallest building in town, that spends a lot of time folding napkins.”
Andy Rooney
basic napkin fold videos

Nothing earth-shattering here!

The Crown (or Prince of Wales)

Folding Rose


Goblet Fan

Folding Fan

Cardinal's Hat

Bishop's Mitre

Bird of Paradise

Atrium Lily

“OK you pompous twit”, I hear you saying, “ where are these amazing and unusual napkin folds that you are going on about?”

Find them below. They are from Mrs Beetons Book of Household Management first published in 1861! The boring old standard folds are on the right in video format >

Originally titled: ‘The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc. – also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: with a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort” the book contains some pretty fancy folding techniques that you don’t see very often these days.

Apologies for the quality of the scanned images but you’ll get the idea. Remember that for perfect napkin folds your napkin needs to be a perfect square and heavily ‘starched’ when being ironed  or pressed (for those nice crisp edges). Click on any of the napkin folds below to see  a larger image. For a modern take on unusual napkin folds get David Stark’s book

“The Boar’s Head” fold

“The Fan” folds

“The Lily & Cactus” folds

“The Sachet” fold

“The Slipper” fold

Have fun with these out of the ordinary napkin folds - but use them wisely!


Our friends at Bowmore whisky sent us the above video on creating the ‘Rose’ napkin fold. As I’m certain that the video cost a bundle to produce it’s a shame they couldn’t find the completely square napkin that the chap mentions as being preferable in the first few frames of the site as it’s apparent to an old hand like me that he’s got a slight rectangle, not a square.

Also it would have been cool if he’d mentioned that this style of napkin fold tends not to be the sort that sits in front of a diner but is rather one in which something sits e.g. bread, crisps/chips, a bowl containg food of some sort. So! Not your best Bowmore!

But good advice re starch. A stiff napkin is a happy napkin!

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