From : The Butler’s Guide to Clothes Care, Managing the Table, Running the Home and Other Graces by Stanley Ager and Fiona St. Aubyn
On party nights two matched footmen stood ready to open the doors leading to the reception rooms. They were both six feet tall, wore identical liveries and had similar features. So that the guests would have no trouble acknowledging them, whoever stood on the left was called John and the other was addressed as James, regardless of their real names.
You never heard a footman actually close a door, it was done so quietly and discreetly. I open and close a door the same way today. The trick is to release the door handle only once. Most people open a door, let go of the handle again and shut the door. But after I have opened the door, I keep the handle turned until I have passed through the doorway. Then,without releasing the catch, I take hold of the handle in my other hand. I hold it in the same position until I have gently closed the door and the catch is ready to click into place.
(next week- How to climb the stairs).
John (quietly coming through the door in the picture above) and James can be hired from http://www.JohnandJames.com. On odd days of the month John answers, on even days James.