Friday, May 6, 2011

Downton Abbey

Just say the word, "abbey," and I'm all ears.
Images of medieval courtyards, cloisters, groined ceilings,
 and candlelight flow to my brain.
So, naturally, when "Downton Abbey" turned up
 on the programming for Masterpiece Classic, I settled in for a look-see.
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OK, it wasn't MY idea of life in an ancient abbey.

Highclere Castle, front facade. Filming site for 2011's successful PBS drama, Downton Abbey.    image: Wikipedia

And what's so abbey-esque about the setting?

Turns out, the present English country house
 stands on the foundations of an earlier house~~
the medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester who owned the estate from the 8th century.
In 1679, it became home to the Carnarvon family.
By 1692, the dwelling was rennovated into a classical Georgian mansion.
In 1839, it was remodeled in the "High Elizabethan" style,
 faced with Bath stone,
and named Highclere Castle.

Today, you can visit the in-residence castle...it's open on certain dates.
 Or go there, virtually, by clicking on the link above.
Close to the castle is the Monk's Garden, named so because monks once grew fruit trees and vegetables there. Today it's a walled garden with roses, quinces, figs and lavender.
 Nearby are glass houses of tea roses.
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Meanwhile, I'm enjoying the fictional PBS series
 about Edwardian life in the "abbey"/country house.
Again.
 I ordered it from Netflix.

Maggie Smith plays Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham

26 comments:

rosaria said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!

Trailboss said...

As big fans of the show, we appreciate the background. Thanks Becky.
Kathleen and Stan

S. Etole said...

I've only seen one episode of "Upstairs, Downstairs" but thoroughly enjoyed it.

Leslie said...

we love that series! can't wait for it to come back in jan.

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Dear Becky...
I see you have my summerhouse in your sights!! It's just our small place.. for intimate gatherings.. you know a bit tiny for lengthy stays!!!

Love Maggie Smith.. Haven't seen this series must check out if we have it here..

Have a lovely weekend and a lovely Mother's Day.. ciao xxx Julie

Julie@beingRUBY said...

Hi Dear Becky...
I see you have my summerhouse in your sights!! It's just our small place.. for intimate gatherings.. you know a bit tiny for lengthy stays!!!

Love Maggie Smith.. Haven't seen this series must check out if we have it here..

Have a lovely weekend and a lovely Mother's Day.. ciao xxx Julie

Pamela Terry and Edward said...

I'm happy you explained this. I wondered why the house was termed an "abbey". Must have been quite delicious to see in in person!

Pooch Purple Reign said...

wow... it sure is beautiful !!
~laura

Jane said...

Impressive!
I have not seen Maggie Smith in this role. I'll have to watch for it...She's one of my favorite actors. I do have to say, though, that she has a difficult time with a southern accent (Steel Magnolias), but she has that southern sass down pat!
Jane (artfully graced)

Ann-Marie ~ Brambly said...

I'm in love with Downton Abbey and I cannot wait to see what happens next season.

Ann-Marie

GLENDA CHILDERS said...

I would love to visit this abbey with you, Becky ... shall we go tomorrow?

I haven't seen that PBS series . . . will add it to my list.

Fondly,
Glenda

Dimple said...

Highclere is beautiful, but I wonder: what is the reason for all the vertical projections? I have seen them on other buildings, and wondered the same thing...

I read "Northanger Abbey" for the first time during the winter, and enjoyed it. The main character had a similar fascination with abbeys to yours.

Linda@ Lime in the Coconut said...

Oooooh la la. Abbey indeed.

Shellbelle said...

I see from your posts and the comments of others that this must be a wonderful series. I'm going to tell my granddaughter to order this when she turns in movie to Netflix.

I adore Maggie Smith! What really caught eye was her character as the Dowager Countess of Grantham. Why? Well, because my maiden name is Grantham!

I see that her son is the Earl of Grantham and I do know that the "of" means that the title did not come from a surname, but from a place. As I trace my family roots, I'm trying to understand all of this. I should mention that I'm easily confused, lol. I have my family here from England in the early 1600s, but did they come from Grantham, England?

I have an idea, let's go to England, stay at an abbey and you can help me figure this all out! Maybe I have family there with an abbey! lol

Hugs and Happy Mother's Day!

B. Meandering said...

Sounds interesting. I like Maggie Smith and programs about those times--I will have to look into it.

Linda P said...

It's good to know that 'Downton Abbey' has come your way. As you may guess, I know Highclere Castle in my home county, as I've visited with a study group.

Anonymous said...

Stan and I have watched "Downton Abbey" twice....once by ourselves and once with Jennifer and Joe. We loved it and can't wait for the next production this fall. By the way, if you want to own it, Target has it for sale right now.
Kathleen

Donna said...

Wondeful castle, Becky!! I have not seen "Downtown Abbey" but my interest is piqued!! Maybe I'll get to see re-runs this summer or have to order it!!

michelle said...

I missed this when it was on TV, I will have to see if I can find it on video, it looks stunning!

Rachel Cotterill said...

Not got much to do with abbeys, but it is a gorgeous house! I love looking round these old buildings :)

Jeanne Klaver said...

Great history lesson. This is an amazing place!

Barefoot from Heaven said...

Hi sweet lady,...I'm back and seeing your beauties here makes me smile. What a great shots.
Hope you're okay.
CU around hugs Dagmar

mermaid gallery said...

I love the idea of a walled English garden...so romantic. The movie looks interesting as well. I love anything by the Brits.....they don't doll things up...I'll look for it. Hope you are enjoying ball games and grand children! Best, Susan

Barefoot from Heaven said...

MOOOVING. Whooow where did this came from? Ohhh you're butt is gonna be so cold during the wintertimes girl....
Well wish you all the best unpacking boxes and creating a new home. Have fun with it.

Great hear from you my friend.
Hugs Dagmar

Duke said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
GLENDA CHILDERS said...

How did I miss this post? I watched Season 2 first and finally just finished Season 1. Really loved it.

It would be a fun abbey field trip.