History of the Toastmaster

The origins and history of the red-coated English Toastmaster are not entirely clear. The practice of drinking to the health of guests, dignitaries, gods and goddesses dates from antiquity; it is generally accepted that the association of the term "toast" with the drinking of someone's health came about through the custom (from the Middle Ages) of adding spiced toast to wine to improve the flavour, the Steward carrying out this duty being known as the "Master of the Toast". The first recorded instance of a "toast" to a person is in 1649 - when the spiced toast was taken to a lady - and the Master of the Toast or Toastmaster, or latterly the Butler, thereafter took on the role of proposing the toasts.

The Toastmaster became more of a "personality" in 1705 when Richard "Beau" Nash set himself up as a master of ceremonies in Bath and later in Tunbridge Wells. In the eighteenth century there were even special toastmaster glasses, having deceptively thick bowls that held a small quantity of drink, thus enabling the Toastmaster to propose numerous toasts with minimal ill effects.

The red coat originated in 1894 when noted Toastmaster William Knight Smith, concerned at being mistaken for a butler, was persuaded by his wife to wear a coat in military red; the Prince of Wales (later Edward the Seventh) approved of the colour which from that day forward has been recognised as the mark of the modern Toastmaster.


Thank you so much for all of your help and advice, both before and during our wedding. We had a fantastic day and it was lovely to be able to leave it in your capable hands and just enjoy ourselves....

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