It wasn’t woman’s work to host a picnic in the 19th Century. By 1850, they were a popular and coveted pastime.
Queen Victoria contributed to the popularization of picnics during her lifetime. When Victorian ladies and gentlemen wished to get away from the stricter settings, they meandered out to idyllic settings.
Gentlemen became the hosts, the purveyors of the fine fare, and the tour guides including for organized entertainments. Nearly any civilized activity was game as long as the host-gentleman led it.
Scenery was paramount. In fact, it was often held up as the reason for a picnic.
Fare was as important as when dining inside, but limited by convenience, of course. Chickens baked the day before were popular, as were dainty sandwiches (sans crusts).
Fresh fruit and pickled or deviled items accompanied the requisite bread and butter. Spices were toted along, especially salt and pepper and any that were popular. Desserts were compact and refreshing such as a loaf-cake or cookies.
Picnics were originally a pot-luck style with each guest bringing one dish. But, soon, the fare became something ladies would often oversee and the gentlemen would serve by waiting hand and foot on each guest.
Blankets were layered with cloths. Table service was china and silver, although each person’s setting might have their name etched or inscribed to keep things sorted out.