Wednesday, January 22, 2014

"Downtrodden" Abbey and Downton's Highclere

Yes, it is bloody humongous!
The preternaturally popular British series Downton Abbey has spawned its fair share of satires, including Downton Tabby and the novella Downtrodden Abbey: The Interminable Saga of an Insufferable Family by "Gillian Fetlocks."
Harking back to the beginning of the series, this parody written as a novel commences with "Cousin Isabich" and her son, "Atchew," arriving at the castle after the legitimate heir to the estate goes down with the Gigantic. The aristocratic Crawfishes (Lady Flora and Lord Roderick) and their three daughters—Marry, Enid, and Supple—are duly perturbed (not enough to affect their naughty charades and 22-course dinners, however). Downton lovers will revel in the arrival from America of Flora's "annoying mother," Surly McPain; in the below-stairs stratagems of Tomaine "the first footmasseur" (and his partner in malignity, "Potatoes" O'Grotten); in the valet/maid lovebirds Brace and Nana; and in the diary of poor benighted Laizy, the scullery maid.
As all Downton Abbey fans worth their salt know, the setting of the series is Highclere Castle, home of the current Earl and Countess of Canarvon. "We always sit down at 9 o’clock for Downton," says Lady Fiona Carnarvon. "It’s very odd seeing them on the television in a particular part of the castle when you’re sitting ten yards away." Lady Fiona has written two excellent books on the life and times of the estate and its fascinating owners in the early 20th century: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle and Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey. Above and below are images of  several public rooms at Highclere as they appear when they are not being used by the series.
The dining room is decorated in the “Stuart Revival” style. Prominent in many of the family's mealtime scenes in Downtown Abbey is a painting by Anthony Van Dyck of King Charles I on horseback, accompanied by Chevalier le Sieur de St. Antoine.Van Dyck painted a portrait of the first Lady Carnarvon as well, which also hangs in the dining room. (The portrait there of Henry, First Earl of Carnarvon, is by Gainsborough.) Below are images of the library and the music room.
In 1895, Alfred de Rothschild gave his daughter Almina bolts of green French silk from which to decorate the Drawing Room, seen in the stills below from Downton Abbey. Narrow cupboards between the double doors from the Drawing Room to the Smoking Room hid the 5th Earl of Carnarvon's valuable collection of Egyptian antiquities, which were discovered by accident by the current Earl. Behind the Dowager one can see the children of the First Earl of Canarvon as painted by Sir William Beechey.

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