Tuesday, 8 November 2011

Design, decor and drooling over Downton Abbey

I've never before had very much interest in period or costume dramas. 

(Except I'm not sure if Little House on the Prairie and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers counts - I kind of remember those from when I was very small - and loved them almost as much as I loved Heidi.) 

So I've only recently discovered Downton Abbey, the ITV1 drama series set in the early 20th century, and was surprised to find just how much I enjoyed it:

Which was like, *LOADS*.
About as much as a little five year old girl might love Heidi.

And now its over.

How is it that the Xfactor seems to go on and on and as soon as it's done, the next series is ready to air, while we have to wait a whole year for the next series of Downton? Life is so unfair! 

(Watch the trailer here if you are one of the few people on the planet who haven't yet seen it. Or more likely, just watch the trailer again, since you're sad it's finished for another year.)

I'm not about to get into the ins and outs of the characters, plots and subplots. It's too hard. I missed series 1 by being in the US last year, and have to commend my lovely housemate on her patience with my never-ending questions during series two - 'Who's that?', 'What's his name?', 'Why is that lady doing that?', 'Is he a goodie or a baddie?'

Mainly, I've learned that everybody is a goodie AND a baddie. 

Not dissimilar to real life then. 

The real star of the show is the house. I've been swooning over the interior of Highclere Castle, which effortlessly nails the part of Downton Abbey, home to Lord and Lady Grantham. 

(hello Palladian blue with gold accents. I love you)

I'm as likely to demand that my housemate appreciates the wallpaper in Mary's room as I am to comment on the story line (which is ALL the time.)

I'm sorry that I couldn't find a clearer picture of the wallpaper. Believe me when I tell you that I tried.

There's a great video on Youtube where the charming real life Lady of the Manor, Lady Carnarvon, shows part of the house. (Watch it here). 

She tells how the dining table, often seen during the series, can seat 32 when fully laid, all under the impressive Van Dyke painting. It's an homage painting from the time when King Charles came to stay, to show where the family's loyalty lay.

One of my favourite rooms, and most impressive, is the library, holding over 5 500 books, dating from as far back as the fifteenth century. 

It needs to be admired from both a distance, and close up, to fully appreciate the detail it holds.

The saloon is the 'heart of the house'  - and must be a nightmare to heat....

although pretty romantic for a late night waltz...

It's amazing that all this could be the seat of one family...on the Highclere website I couldn't find a clearer picture of Lady Mary's bedroom in Downton, but when the website explained there are 11 bedrooms open to the public and another 50 or so in the house, it made sense why finding an image might be tricky. 

The good news is that during the wait until next season, Highclere is open to visitors - the bad news is that due to unprecedented demand, all tickets are sold out until early next year. 

As annoying as that may be, how brilliant that in the days of TV on demand I can watch series one having missed that, and how lucky we all are that these tough financial times means the gentry have no option other than to open their palatial homes to us mere mortals. 

More than that - how important it is too that we appreciate both these outstanding buildings and the wealth of treasures they hold, and find a way to make them relevant to today.


images: Highclere castle, ITV1, youtube, google


Anonymous said...

Carly - guess what i found out???? Downtown will have a Christmas special!!! Will Mary and Matthew have too much gluwein and finally get it together :-)
so you will have to catch ME up on whats going on...
L x

Post a Comment