From history and society to culture and arts, Downton Abbey offers many sophisticated stimuli. It is down to its last season and thought to share some of the reasons to fall in love with this series.
1. The House
Visually, the setting of Downton Abbey itself and the classical styles of the time were much more sophisticated. The real Downton Abbey is Highclere Castle, the hereditary estate and country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon. The interior and exteriors of the house is to die for. I specifically love the library.
Highclere Castle is a Jacobethan charm with grounds designed by much lauded landscaper Capability Brown, and the house stands where a house has stood since at least the 10th century. Unlike Downtown, which is set in the north of England in the county of Yorkshire, Highclere Castle is in the south, in Hampshire.
2. The Distinction of Classes
If you love social history, you’ll find plenty of reasons to watch Downton Abbey. At Downton Abbey you can escape to another world – a world where the life upstairs is one of class and privilege and all the trappings it brings to a titled family in the first half of the 20th century. Watch with laughter, tears, joy and sadness as Lord and Lady Grantham and their three daughters embrace everything life throws at them.As well as following the lives of the Grantham family upstairs, the series delve deeply into the life below stairs as a Downton servant. The butler, footmen, ladies’ maids and kitchen staff have as much going on as them upstairs, and face similar problems as the changes in post-war Britain bring whole new horizons for them to consider – even simple things like the introduction of the toaster and electric mixer are huge events here.
3. The Soundtrack
Listen to the track and you will understand why.
4. Dowager Countess of Grantham
A shout out for Dame Maggie Smith is appropriate here because she truly is glorious as the Dowager Lady Grantham. She is being dragged kicking and screaming into the new century and her irascibility is a joy to watch.
5. Period Fashion
What would a period drama be without the costumes? Downton showcases the best of British style from the 1910s to ’20s. So you get that ye olde long white glove/empire waist look but also beautiful embellishments that wouldn’t feel out of place on a Madewell blouse today.
It’s the perfect nexus of old-world elegance and “I could wear that.” And the clothes just contribute so wonderfully to the show’s overall beauty and aesthetic cohesion. Fashion lovers will adore the chronicle of changing fashions and hairstyles in Downton Abbey. It showcased styles from the stuffy high necked, leg-o-mutton sleeved, befrilled full length dresses of the Edwardian Era to the flighty, daring, often times sexy clothes of the early 1920s and the flapper style of the Jazz Age and Art Deco.
In addition, it made me realize that breathtaking beauty can be sexually modest and Downton Abbey serves as a fascinating and perhaps very important reminder of this.
6. The Stories
Another of the reasons to love Downton Abbey is that no character is superfluous. Each character has their own story running along the main plot lines. We have love affairs, births and marriages, brides to be jilted at the altar, scandals, intrigue upstairs and down, personality clashes and people seeking revenge and retribution, births out of wedlock and accidents to cause a miscarriage. We have characters from past lives pop up suddenly, usually with some ghastly consequence, we have times when characters we thought we knew surprise us and then we have the deaths.
7. The Writer
Downton Abbey came out from the head of Julian Alexander Kitchener-Fellowes, Baron Fellowes of West Stafford DL, known professionally as Julian Fellowes. He’s an English actor, novelist, film director and screenwriter, as well as a Conservative member of the House of Lords. Well – there’s a bio for you! What I love about his work on Downton Abbey is that he wrote it specifically with Highclere Castle in mind, being long standing friends with Lord and Lady Carnarvon.