Nine Things You Should Know About Downton Abbey

As inspired by our friend and fellow Downton Abbey fan, Sharon Greenthal, (Empty House, Full Mind,) here are nine things you should know about Downton Abbey.

Nine Things You Need to Know About Downton Abbey

1. Highclere Castle

The “above stairs” scenes are filmed at Highclere Castle, the 1830s great house designed by the same architect who designed the British Houses of Parliament. The similarities between the buildings can be seen in the sand-colored stone and Gothic Revival turrets. Since 1679, the family of the Earl of Carnarvon has had a home on this spot. Beneath the current house are the ruins of a medieval palace. The “below stairs” scenes are filmed at the famed Ealing Studios on set in West London.

The current house is nestled on 1000 acres of parkland and the family home is available to rent for weddings and open for tourists in the summer. Although gorgeous pictures of the home are here,  it is already sold out for the Spring, 2014 opening. But this being the 21st century the gift shop is open, online.

2. Massive audience

Downton Abbey has delivered PBS Masterpiece it largest audience ever.

 3. Buccaneers

We know that Lord Grantham married Lady Grantham for her money, but not a whole lot more. The show’s writer Julian Fellowes (who in real life is Baron Fellowes of West Stafford, Lord of the Manor of Tattershall) will sate our curiosity. Fellowes said:

I do actually have an idea of doing a prequel of the courtship of Robert and Cora, when all those American heiresses were arriving in London – the Buccaneers, as they were called. They had a slightly troubled courtship, because she was in love with him before they married, as we know, and he married her entirely for her money.

The Buccaneers were American heiresses who, in marriage, exchanged fortune for title with landed Englishmen.

4. Bedroom scenes

In the filming of the show only one bedroom is used, and the furniture and fittings are changed to make it look like many. The cast is required to wear full sun screen at all times to maintain their Edwardian pallor.

5. English accents

The above stairs cast speaks in accents of modern-day wealthy Brits as the affected speech pattern from the early part of the 20th century was thought to be off-putting. The below stairs staff was use their own regional accents.

6. The future

The world of Downton Abbey, of grand homes staffed with dozens of servants, is doomed as we the viewers know. We know WWII will bring this world to an end. Julian Fellowes, author and creator, has chosen to give his characters varying awareness of this fact and thus allow us to watch the differing ways people adapted to the coming changes.

7. Original story

Unlike so many costume period pieces, Downton Abbey is not an adaptation so the story hangs in the balance and only writer Julian Fellowes knows what will transpire next. Without a pre-existing book, tragedies in the storyline still have the power of surprise.

8. Critical acclaim

Downton Abbey is in the Guinness Book of World Records as having the “highest critical review ratings for a TV show.” It replaces Mad Men in that spot.

9. More to come

Season four premiers here in the US on January 5, but the filming of season five is set to begin in England, shortly. Fellowes has said he will not let the show run endlessly. “What we don’t want,” Fellowes said, “is to go too far ahead and have the actors doing wobbly stick acting with talcum powder in their hair.”

Guess we just need to enjoy it while we can.



  1. Carpool Goddess says

    Love this Lisa! Can’t wait for the season to begin. One of my friends, an avid Downton devotee, visited Hichclere this past summer :)

  2. Ellen says

    If you can not wait for the Season – it is available for free on a website that I will share if asked. Don’t want to be the spoiler for those that enjoy the anticipation each week. I like to gobble them up over a few decadent says over the holidays! Great season!!!

  3. Becky Blades says

    Great mini-fix! Thank you. Right now, I’d take even some “wobbly stick” acting!
    Chomping at the Edwardian bit . . .

  4. says

    Our shared love of Downton is just one of the things I adore about you! What great bits of info – I can’t wait for tomorrow night and the season premiere.

  5. says

    I haven’t really watched this show but for a couple of programs. Loved those however. Do I need to catch up and watch the other three years ? Or will I be able to follow ? I always felt with Harry Potter that you were doomed if you hadn’t seen the entire series.

  6. says

    Agh! I can’t wait! Popcorn at the ready and blanket to cuddle under with my daughter tonight.

  7. Risa says

    Maybe a little off topic, but I was at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in LA a few months ago and got to see many of the costumes from the last season–including a couple of wedding gowns. They were so beautifully done–such detail! Very impressive. (And so were Michael Douglas’s outfits for his stint as Liberace!!) If the show wins another Emmy for costume design, I’ll be back. Anyway, looking forward to the conversation in the coming days.

  8. says

    Read the history of Hichclere Castle. Love, all this British aristocracy stuff. Can never get enough! Tonight, tonight, won’t be like every night…

  9. says

    Just read that season 5 may be the end for Downton. He’s going to work on a series about the American Rich during the turn of the century.

  10. says

    I love this show and can’t wait for season 4 to start. Today’s travel section in LA had a nice story about touring the castle.

  11. says

    Greetings! Very helpful advice within this post!
    It is the little changes which will make the most important changes.

    Many thanks for sharing!