The Joy of Downton Abbey

Don’t the lovely Ladies of Downton look beautiful in their gorgeous dresses? I would do a lot of terrible things to be one of them! I can see myself in the green one especially!

A dear friend and I spent a good part of the weekend, when it was too sticky and horrid to venture outside into the sauna that is New York, clutching each other and squealing with glee at the first series of Downton Abbey. Rewatching it reminded me of how marvellous it is: Thomas flouncing about looking wonderfully smug and nasty; Miss O’Brien with her silly fringe standing in corners with a face like a wasp chewing a lemon; Mrs Hughes being all kindly but firm, and secretly longing for dear Mr Carson; poor Mr Bates!!!! and then the magnificent, hilarious Dowager Countess rustling about, leaning on her cane and making a face like an owl whenever anything distasteful is mentioned; Lady Mary and Lady Edith wickedly attempting to undermine the other at every opportunity; Lady Sybil being very ‘modern’ and wearing something resembling harem pants; Lord Grantham being wise and kind and generally the Lord Bountiful, and to top it all, these wondrous characters spend their days milling about in the most beautiful setting of Highclere Castle! I don’t understand how anyone can not love it, and I am positively wetting myself with excitement for the next series, which is, according to this brilliant Telegraph article, filming as we speak! Will the episode of Mr Pamook ever be topped? Will Lady Mary and Cousin Matthew with the very kind eyes ever get together? Will Miss O’Brien and Thomas get their just desserts?! I can hardly bear the suspense!




  1. One of those joyous moments when the first notes of the opening music makes you calm and excited all at the same time. We LOVED Downton at our house! I wanted to have several outfits made in plum and soft grey…corset optional. Listening to a Richard Bacon podcast a couple of months ago I was thrilled to hear him interviewing a few characters on the set while filming Series 2. Lady Mary seems to be mellowing….should we believe it?

    1. Oh Darlene I know exactly what you mean – I get goosebumps when that music starts!! The costumes are exquisite aren’t they? I wish it was still mandatory to wear hats – I’d wear them all the time if I didn’t feel so silly doing it. I must look up those podcasts! I would love to hear the cast talking about their roles! I can sense a small obsession beginning…! Oh really? I actually have a lot of time for Lady Mary and think there is a good heart underneath that frosty exterior – I look forward to seeing how the war changes her!

  2. I’m with you. It was irresistable and we can’t wait for the new season! My husband and I made a long-distance movie date of it while he was in Afghanistan. I sent him the first season from amazon, and watched it myself on Netflix. Delicious period drama (and comedy), a nice feeling of doing something together despite the distance, and a much longed for dose of trees, architecture, and “civilization” for him! It’s amazing as it is, but I think we got twice the pleasure out of it thanks to the huge treat it provided in the middle of a long deployment.

    1. ABSOLUTELY irresistible! Such a fantastic show. And what a wonderful way to watch it – I’m so glad you and your husband could share it like that! I hope he is back safely now and will be able to watch the next series with you on the sofa?

  3. Here in Australia we are only in the middle of series 1 (on TV) so I’m afraid there were a couple of spoilers in your piece – Matthew and Lady Mary don’t resolve their URST and O’Brien and Thomas don’t get their comeuppance by series end! Sigh, like everyone else I’ll have to wait for series 2, which I’m sure is the intention … DA is a beautiful but old-fashioned costume drama so Interesting it is such a high rater – and good on Fellowes for an original screenplay, not an adaptation.

    1. Oh no Clarinda! I’m so sorry!! But you would have soon found out! I know, it’s wonderful that it has proved as popular as it has been – normally period dramas are rather niche. Perhaps because it is an original screenplay, people aren’t put off by it being a novel they haven’t read? I adore it and I think it will become a British classic!

  4. I’m excited about the second season but I don’t know why you care what happens to Lady Mary. Lady Mary is a big jerk and she deserves everything she gets. I sympathize about the Turk, but she’s so catty and nasty to everybody. I don’t like her. The youngest sister is the only one I like. She has principles!

    1. Oh no Jenny, you don’t mean that! I love Lady Mary – she’s a tortured soul, trapped in a gilded cage! I want Matthew to release her!!

      Lady Edith is the one I don’t like- I know it’s not easy always playing second fiddle, but she is a cunning little madam who intentionally set out to cause real harm whereas Mary is just a bit nasty which is different. Obviously Sybil the feminist is the best though – I loved her harem pants!

  5. Julian Fellowes’ novel ‘Snobs’ which is set in current times is also worth reading. It is not as good as Downton Abbey, but it has lots of observations about how the aristocracy have adapted to the modern world.

    1. I keep meaning to read that, Ed – thank you for reminding me! Knowing Julian Fellowes’ excellent screenwriting, I’m sure it’s a fantastic read!

  6. Oh, now you’ve done it and made me all nostalgic and anxious and such. How can I possibly wait for season 2, Rachel, and I’ll have to wait for it to air in the states as well? I just loved watching it this winter and Maggie Smith – why, she just stole every scene she was in. What a wonderful way to spend a hot, humid, New York weekend.

    Goody! Something to look forward to this next season.

    1. Oh I’m sorry, Penny! But it won’t be toooo long I hope. I think it’s starting in December in England so shouldn’t be too long afterwards…and you could always buy the DVDs! Maggie Smith is perfect in everything she’s in, isn’t she?!
      Oh it was the best weekend – we watched another episode last night and will try and squeeze one in tonight too! I can’t get enough!

  7. ‘Mrs Hughes being all kindly but firm, and secretly longing for dear Mr Carson’ Rachel, you shock me. PS Thomas forever, hater!;)

  8. They look amazing. You can have the green dress and I’ll have the yellow one on the left.

    I was clearing out some boxes the other day, found a theatre programme and realised that I had seen Michelle Dockery in a production of Pygmalion a couple of years ago (she was brilliant of course).

    1. Perfect – I think we should do a little photoshoot of our own!!

      Polly, I saw the same production! My sister took me to it for my 20th birthday I think…it was wonderful! You just reminded me!

  9. I really enjoyed this series and can’t wait for the next one. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that the loathsome Thomas will not manage to weasle his way out of going to war, but I expect he shall. Comic Relief did a marvellous parody of the show called ‘Upstairs Downton Abbey’. If you haven’t seen it you must look it up as it really is very funny.

    1. Oh I REALLY want Thomas to have a tough time of it – get his comeuppance good and proper! He is a little coward!

      Oh I saw it, it was hilarious!! I must rewatch it actually!!

  10. I agree with English Rose, you absolutely must watch Upstairs Downton Abbey. It’s in 2 parts on Youtube.

    I agree that Mary gets whatever she deserves — I’m actually hoping that Matthew will end up with Sybil! She does seem to be the best of the bunch.

    1. Oh I’ve seen it! It’s fantastic!! I was wetting myself!

      Oh no, really?! I want Sybil to be an independent woman and resist the urge to get married. Lady Mary is a good soul really, I just think she’s incredibly frustrated by the fact that her mother keeps trying to push her off on anyone with a penis when she wants more from her life than a boring marriage and organising village fairs. I don’t blame her. Plus the first time she had sex the poor man died on top of her, which must have been somewhat disturbing… Matthew can see the good in her!

  11. I have to be careful here in Australia about giving spoilers away too as I purchased the series from and had polished off the whole thing long before it started airing here. My friend had to cover her ears and sing lalalalalala as I mistakenly started talking about the ending the other day 😉

  12. This is very late, but I enjoyed your post and cannot believe that the next season is coming out this Sunday in England. I will get my hands on it one way or another, because I am quite sure I will be buying the DVDs when they are available. I basically fell in love with Downton Abbey on first sight, and I was shocked to realize that I was not deluding myself; it really was that good.

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