Friday, July 18, 2014

Downton Abbey

I’m finally up to date in the world of Downton Abbey.  I’ve been ignoring it for a while but couldn’t miss someone raving about it seemingly every corner I turned.  Even though I usually avoid period dramas like the plague, I knew I would have to watch Downton Abbey to see what all the fuss was about.

It was amazing.  Such a well-written drama, witty dialogue and laugh out loud funny moments (mostly over Dame Maggie Smith’s lines which were delivered in her inimitable way).  Julian Fellowes, the writer, is a very clever man.

It’s hard to choose a character, but if I could most choose one to be like, it would be Lady Mary Crawley.  I adore the way she speaks, in a low, slow voice and it’s rare to see her flustered or over-excited.  She is very calm and measured.  All the women are elegant and gracious and inspire me to be more lady-like.

Amongst the backdrop of their very privileged (and endangered) lifestyle, I love that the women in the family cultivate simple pleasures such as needlepoint, reading and taking tea.  Everyone speaks quite formally to one another, and if there is a cross word, it is either said straight, or in some cases couched in very witty and clever phrase.

The women dress very modestly but still fashionably.  As the series progress, seeing the twenties fashions were a real treat and I’d happily wear those today.  The women in the family always have their hair either in a chic updo, or styled into a faux bob.  You realise just how long their hair is when they are dressing for bed at night time, but it is never down and loose in public (and by public I mean the rooms of the house where the men are, as well as outside the house).

Both men and women dress very formally and take the time to make themselves look attractive.  It’s not all about comfort – no-one slouches around in track pants and ugg boots there.  I’m not saying I want to go back to corsets, but we have gone quite far the other way which is a shame.

Their huge castle must be freezing, and the way they dress in this environment is quite impractical, but that’s the wonderful thing about Downton Abbey, ‘practical’ doesn’t ever seem to be in their vocabulary.  They dress up in beautiful clothing, change for dinner every night and have a valet or a ladies maid to help them dress.  You don’t have to do your own laundry and every little thing is done by someone else.  All you have to do is enjoy your life (until the money runs out of course).  Apart from the finance thing, doesn’t that sound glorious?

I believe watching this programme has had a positive effect on me.  Having it as a mind influencer makes me feel more ladylike myself, more feminine and gracious.  I do not want to swear or raise my voice.  I am content to be serene and feminine and fill my life with good jobs and a life well lived.

Are you a Downton Abbey fan?  What’s your favourite ‘takeaway’ from this series?


  1. I am an avid fan of Downton Abbey and am so glad you gave it a try and discovered why it is so popular. It definitely is a show that affects how you look at your daily life - behaviour, habits, style, etc. I find the lives of the downstairs domestic help as interesting as the upstairs aristocracy. One of the aspects I am most interested in is the actual house and the daily routines of all who live there. It's a fascinating way to learn some history.

  2. Miss Dishywoo, I agree. I too enjoy the downstairs workings of the house and have also enjoyed watching history unfold watching this series.

  3. I haven't watched the series, but have been listening to some audio books while I drive. Written by Kerry Greenwood, they are the Phrynie Fisher series. They are set in 1928 and have the same effect. The main character is a well bred lady who runs a 'proper' household.
    She dresses well, speaks beautifully and acts like a lady.
    Worth a listen if you have the time.

  4. "What is a week-end ?" made it for me. Gosh, I wish I could live in such oblivion of the mundane !

  5. Claire, this story sounds wonderful. I will definitely look it up thank you.

    Silver Bunny, I know, such a great line. And when someone (maybe Branson) starting asking about the price of something, the Dowager Countess said 'oh goody, lets talk about money' in a disapproving and deadpan way. There are entire sites devoted to quotes from her and there are so many good lines.

  6. The Phrynie Fisher series is now a tv show also and the clothing and sets are fabulous. Again though not having to do anything in the household in terms of chores is a huge difference from most our lives.

  7. I discovered the show in the same way, getting in after hearing so much hype. I was equally enchanted and quickly got caught up and now would not miss it for the world. It is such a lovely show and a true pleasure to watch.

  8. You might also enjoy the Lord Peter books by Dorothy Sayers. Such a Man!

  9. I'm a great fan of Downton Abbey. Watched it once for the story, twice for the fashion and the third time for the decor.
    Lady Mary is my favorite character. A bit snooty at first, she warms up later on. I love her clothes. And I like that she wears things more than once in the series. Her blue Edwardian jacket in the first series is so beautiful.
    Yes, ladylike is a great takeaway, even though we do our own cooking and cleaning.

  10. Juhli, I made that connection when I was looking up Kerry's books and audio books at the library, so I've ordered Season 1. For some reason I didn't watch it on tv. Wouldn't that be lovely to have people cook and clean for you!

    Stephanie, I agree with your words wholeheartedly.

    Shelley, thank you, I will look them up!

    Lorrie, I've only seen each episode once but I know I will watch them again. I love your reasons for each viewing.

  11. I agree that the costumes are marvelous and I would love to see an exhibition of the fashions from each season. You are so right, Fiona. The series made me long for a return of good manners and propriety. It wasn't that the people of that era and society didn't feel anger, sadness or disappointment; they simply kept it private and learned to interact with civility. The "Jerry Springer Show" mentality that we live with today has coarsened our society.( Hope you Southern Hemisphere folk understand my Jerry Springer reference.)

  12. Kristien, sadly I do know your Jerry Springer influence! 'Privacy' and 'interacting with civility' - nicely said.

  13. i fell in love with downton abbey from the first sight. and i splurged and have bought every single season. i knew it was something i'd want to watch again many times through the years.
    i loved matthew. but yes. mary.
    everything about her.
    and now that they're bringing it into a new century... well. it will be fascinating to see her grow as a more modern lady.
    "what is a weekend?"
    every line maggie smith delivers.

  14. Great site! Thought you and your fans (esp those in London) might be interested in knowing about a fun one-night only event (Nov 4) at Downton Abbey that I just found and posted on my blog. Special Champagne Reception and Tour at Highclere Castle. Sounds fun - wish I didn't live 6,000 miles away!
    Alana in San Francisco


Merci for your comment. Wishing you a chic day!

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