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Downton Abbey: inbreeding at its finest!

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I have just started watching this show - for some reason I was put off by the name and never bothered to check it out until now - perhaps the religious connotations of 'Abbey' or something. In any case, I zoomed through the first season and and then the second.

The first season of Downton Abbey really was quite excellent, and established the characters with a lot of depth. The first season was excellent drama. The second season seemed like the show took a turn from drama to soap opera around mid season. This whole thing with the dude suddenly able to feel his legs was so General Hospital it smacked of soap opera.

I just wish they would start killing off characters before they become unbelievable, much like the writers did in The Wire, or in Boardwalk Empire to a lesser extent. Kill them off at their peak, and introduce new ones to take it to the next level.

It strikes me that it is no wonder the British Empire collapsed - inbreeding and an upper class who couldn't even make a cup of tea if they had to.
 

rentboy

TRIBE Member
I just wish they would start killing off characters before they become unbelievable, much like the writers did in The Wire, or in Boardwalk Empire to a lesser extent. Kill them off at their peak, and introduce new ones to take it to the next level.
You'll like the third season then. ;)

The first season is excellent.

My real gripe with the show is that the aristocracy are too nice to the serving staff.
The production values are outstanding though, and I enjoy most of the characters. I love the back and forth between the Dowager Countess and Mrs Crawley. Maggie Smith has the best delivery of cutting barbs.
 

Dirty Girl

TRIBE Member
Theres another show starting in a few weeks on masterpiece called mr sefidges. Should be of the same calibre.
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
All the scenes with Mary staring at herself in the mirror while her hair gets braided... what a boring life, just being fluffed up for marriage to another appropriate inbred.

And that dude getting his jacket brushed while he wears it like once or twice a show, WTF! Dust hasn't even settled on it since it was taken out of the closet.
 
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coleridge

TRIBE Member
All the scenes with Mary staring at herself in the mirror while her hair gets braided... what a boring life, just being fluffed up for marriage to another appropriate inbred.

And that dude getting his jacket brushed while he wears it like once or twice a show, WTF! Dust hasn't even settled on it since it was taken out of the closet.
Google: Downton Abbey on Spike TV

It's an SNL short and it's pretty funny.
 

Zorro

TRIBE Member
I had never heard of this show. Till Sunday night when Maggie Smith was on 60 minutes. Now I am a little interested. Apparently there isn't a person in England you doesn't watch this show.
 
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NemIsis

TRIBE Member
You'll like the third season then. ;)

The production values are outstanding though, and I enjoy most of the characters. I love the back and forth between the Dowager Countess and Mrs Crawley. Maggie Smith has the best delivery of cutting barbs.
Yep!

I first heard about it because of some back and forth in NC between DG and Meowmix, then saw it on netflix. Really enjoy it and Maggie Smith is awesome.

I found myself wondering how they could do absolutely nothing all day. No wonder the youngest daughter needed out. I'd be bored to tears. At least today we have television which can fill a void if needed. I love to read, and do so voraciously during the summer as I barely have time to crack a book the rest of the year.. but that couldn't be my entire life.
 

erika

TRIBE Member
Great show - caught some third season episodes, then rented season 1 (time isn't really linear, after all :p )
Production values are fantastic, costumes are drool-worthy, acting is spot on.
Apparently the same writer wrote Gosford Park, which I loved.
 
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alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I wouldn't be able to keep a straight face if some valet tried to put cufflinks on me or even tried to park The Egg.
 

erika

TRIBE Member
^
I could certainly use someone to help me put on certain bracelets with clasps: then I wouldn't have to ask strangers on the Dufferin bus...
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member


'Downton' house could unlock secrets of Surrey history

A hidden room found under the floor at a Surrey manor could help unlock mysteries from the area's past.

The 7ft square room, which has no doors and a bricked-up window, was found when computer cabling was being installed at Byfleet Manor, in Mill Lane.

The present house, used as a location in ITV's Downton Abbey, is on the site of buildings dating from the 11th Century.

Surrey Archaeological Society is to investigate the site later this year.

Byfleet Manor, mill and church are mentioned in the Domesday Book and the house was one of the favourite homes of Edward II in the very early 1300s before he became king.

Queen Anne of Denmark, the wife of James 1, was granted Byfleet Manor in 1616 and rebuilt the house.

The current building, which is believed still to have sections from Queen Anne's time, is used as the home of the Dowager Countess Grantham, played by Dame Maggie Smith in ITV's Downton.

Its owner, Julie Hutton, said there was no outward sign of the hidden room until the cabling engineer lifted floorboards on the top floor.

"It is about 7ft high so easily standable in," she said.

"But in the room underneath there is no difference in the levels of the ceiling, which is about 14ft high."

"I am wondering if it could have been part of the remains of the palace built for Queen Anne of Denmark that was on the site before the house.


Dame Maggie Smith plays the Dowager Countess Grantham in Downton Abbey
"This building that is here now is comparatively new - it is only 400 years old."

Ms Hutton said it is possible the room could have been a priest's hole linked to a tunnel in the garden rumoured to have led to Newark Abbey, which was demolished in the 1530s.

She said the house, now a family home, was believed to have links to other historical buildings in the area such as Chertsey Abbey and Hampton Court.

Richard Savage, a Surrey Archaeological Society expert on the medieval period, said tiles and fragments of carved stone from Newark may have been reused at Byfleet Manor.

He said a small amount of archaeological work had already been carried out at Byfleet Manor, with several test pits being done.

Geophysical surveys are now to be carried out across the gardens to locate where underground features may survive, including foundations from long-demolished buildings.

It is hoped these will be carried out this year, then it will be decided whether any further excavations will be done.

from BBC
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
And here is a helpful guide to the servants "titles" and job descriptions...

Servants: Their Hierarchy and Duties

by Michelle Jean Hoppe

Status was just as important in the servant hierarchy as it was in the aristocratic ranks. Servants were divided into 'Upper' and 'Under' ranks. Upper ranks were entitled to respect and deference from the under staff. Upper rank servants would take the head places at dinner, unless they ate separately in the Steward's or Housekeeper's rooms. Visiting servants were seated according to the ranks of their master or mistress. Thus, a countess's lady's maid would be seated above a baroness's lady's maid, but both would be seated above a viscountess's under servants. Another class of servant was the 'senior' class. These servants were of neither 'Upper' or 'Under' rank. They were accorded some of the same privileges as the upper servants, such as being waited upon by the under ranks and eating with the upper servants. But they rarely had the full privileges of an upper servant, such as the master or mistress's castoff clothing.


FEMALE SERVANTS

UPPER SERVANTS
Housekeeper--In households where domestics employed number over twenty-five, the housekeeper's sole duty is to engage, manage and dismiss the female servants, with the exception of lady's maid, nurse and cook, whom the mistress engages. In smaller households, the housekeeper manages the stores, both ordering and dispersing them. She tends to the house linen, both repairing it and replacing it as necessary. She supervises the china-closet, the stillroom department, and superintends the arrangement of bedrooms for visitors and their servants. Her daily routine includes: overlooks the stillroom, sees what china and linen is given out for breakfast, presides over the housekeeper's room breakfast, gives out the stores for the day, assist in washing china, makes rounds of the bedrooms and replaces supplies such as candles, writing paper and soap, makes sure the rooms are clean and in order, presides over the servant's hall dinner, arranges dessert for dinner, makes tea in the afternoon, and makes the coffee for dinner. She also makes preserves and bottles fruit. She keeps the household accounts, and does most of the needlework. In smaller households, the cook often assumes the duties of the housekeeper.

Lady's Maid--A lady's maid attends to her mistress's appearance. She arranges her hair and assists in dressing her. She packs and unpacks the mistress when traveling. She may also make her mistress's dresses. Depending on the size of the household, she may assume some of the housekeeper's duties. In a typical day, she: brings up hot water as necessary, brings up tea before breakfast, prepares clothes for dressing, assists the mistress in dressing, puts the room in order, puts out necessities for walking, riding or driving, assists in taking off her outdoor attire, puts evening dress in order, assists in dressing her for dinner, sits up for her, assists in undressing her, puts away her jewels, keeps her wardrobe in repair and washes the lace and fine linens. She also attends to any pets the mistress may have.

SENIOR SERVANTS
Governess--A governess taught the children of middle and upper class households until they were old enough to go away to school, college, or to a private tutor. She was generally a well-educated middle-class girl who needed to earn her own living. But although she was expected to have the bearing and education of a 'lady' she was treated as a servant. This often left her in limbo--neither an insider or an outsider, as the other servants resented her as too educated and too good for their ranks.

Nurse--The nurse is in charge of caring for the household's children from the time they are born, until they are turned over to the care of the governess. She washes and dresses the children, feeds them, takes them on outings, and puts them to bed. She makes the children's ordinary under-clothing, and repairs their general clothing. Most nurses have dinner brought to them in the nursery, but some dined with the other servants.

UNDER SERVANTS
Cook--In large households, only the cooking proper is the duty of the cook. All ingredients are prepared for her use by the kitchen maids. (A man cook takes a higher position and even less of the plain cooking.) A first-class cook attends to the family breakfast after having her own. She makes out the menu for luncheon and dinner, which is sometimes reviewed and altered by the mistress. In town, she orders from the tradespeople who serve the house. She prepares the soup for the following day, prepares the pastry, jellies, creams and entrees for the day, all in the morning. The afternoon is usually her free time, unless there is a dinner party or guests. She then prepares dinner, and once dinner is served, her duties are over for the day. It is also her duty to lock the doors and windows of the basement, to let the kitchen fire burn low, and to turn off the gas in the kitchen and passages before retiring. In smaller households, the cook assumes the duties of the head kitchen-maid and even scullery maid.

Kitchen Maid--In large households, the head kitchen maid is an under-cook and assumes many of the plain-cooking responsibilities. In small households, the kitchen maid prepares vegetables, game and poultry, does the dairy-work, and bakes the bread. If there is no stillroom maid, she makes the cakes for luncheon, tea and dessert and the rolls for breakfast. She keeps the kitchen clean and keeps things in order.

Housemaid--In large households, the upper housemaid undertook lighter jobs such as making beds and tidying bedrooms. She made sure rooms were supplied with the necessary linens, and that they were kept in repair. She dusted the china ornaments, and tended to the flower arrangements. She kept an eye on the lower housemaids, who would light the fires, clean the living rooms, polish the brass, carry water upstairs for washing, and empty the chamberpots. Some maids were assigned to specific rooms, such as the still-room, laundry, dairy or nursery.

Scullery Maid--Her chief duty is to clean and scour the pots and pans, as well as the cooking utensils. She cleans the scullery, servant's hall, larders, and kitchen passages. She usually dines in the kitchen with the kitchen maid.

MALE SERVANTS

UPPER SERVANTS
House Steward--A House Steward is employed only in larger households where the accounts are too extensive for the Housekeeper to manage. The House Steward has a sitting-room for his duties of household accounting. He may also act as a Land Steward. Those households having Land Stewards give them their own separate dwelling. The House Steward engages men and women servants, with the exception of the family, ladies' maids, nurses and valet. He pays their wages and dismisses them. He orders household goods, pays the household bills and keeps the household books. He usually submits the household books to his master once a month for review. He does not wear livery.

Valet--Valets are generally kept by single gentlemen and elderly gentlemen. A butler may act as a valet for a single man. A valet brushes his master's clothes, cleans his boots, carries up the water for his bath, puts out his clothes for dressing, shaves him if necessary, assists him in dressing, packs and unpacks his clothes when traveling. He also loads his rifle when shooting, stands behind his master's chair at dinner, waits at his breakfast and luncheon, attends to the master's wardrobe and sees that everything is in repair and order. A valet to an elderly gentleman attends to his health needs also, and may sleep in the room with his master. He does not wear livery.

Butler--The butler is the head of his department and responsible for the performance of those under him (the footmen). He has usually served his apprenticeship in domestic service, slowly working his way up the hierarchy. His responsibilities increase with the size of his establishment. He is in charge of the plate chest and makes sure it is properly cleaned before use. He keeps accounts of the wine handed out and consumed by the household. He decants the wine for luncheon and dinner, and puts away decanters after each meal. He also bottles wine, and country butlers brew beer. A butler takes over the valet's duty when there isn't one in the household. A butler announces visitors during the afternoon hours. He readies rooms for use every day, as well as tidies them. In households with only one footman, the butler assumes some of the pantry work.

SENIOR SERVANTS
Coachman--His duties vary depending on the number of footmen employed, and whether or not there is a second-coachman on staff. In families with more than one coachman, the head coachman drives a pair of horses and the second coachman drives one horse. Nightwork is the duty of the second coachman. The head coachman supervises those under him (second coachman and grooms), and sees that the horses are properly fed and taken care of. He also has charge of the the stables and is responsible for ordering supplies. He assists the groom in cleaning the carriages and harness. In some families, coachmen have their meals with the servants. In others, they have their own rooms in the stables.

Head Gardener--The head gardener is in charge of the hot-houses, green-houses and conservatories on the estate. He supervises the rest of the gardeners, their number depending on the size of the gardens.

UNDER SERVANTS
Footman--A typical day for a footman is the following routine: He takes coals to the sitting-room, cleans the boots, trims the lamp wicks, cleans the plate, lays the breakfast table, carries in breakfast, waits at breakfast, removes breakfast, answers the door in the morning after 12 o'clock, delivers notes, lays the luncheon table, takes in and waits luncheon, clears the table and cleans the silver, lays the dinner table, goes out with the carriage in the afternoon, attends to fires throughout the day and evening, prepares table for tea, cleans up after tea, waits at dinner, clears the dinner table, helps clean the plate, washes the glass and silver used at dinner, takes in coffee and dessert after dinner, waits in attendance in front hall when dinner guests are leaving, attends to the gentlemen in the smoking room, attends to lighting in the house at dusk, goes out with the carriage in the evening and valets the young gentlemen in the family. Footmen dress in livery. When one footman is employed, the butler assists in his duties. When two footmen are kept in lieu of a butler and footman, the head footman assumes the duties of the butler. When two or three footmen are kept with a butler, the head footman is called an under-butler, although he remains in livery.

Groom--He attends to the horses and exercises them. He cleans the carriages and harness, and feeds the horses. He also readies the stables for the master's inspection each morning.

Depending on the number of servants kept in an establishment, these duties often blend with one another.
 
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Zorro

TRIBE Member
Can't really compare, as there were people of varied ethnicities in The Wire.
So, you are saying white people watched the wire to see white cops take out/arrest black criminals from the hood. And feel better about themselves. ;)

you do know that I am saying all of this tongue in check. correct?
 

Zorro

TRIBE Member
Not to mention it is highly rated show in Ireland and we all know what the British refer to the Irish as. :)
 

alexd

Administrator
Staff member
I just finished season 3 of DA and I thought it ended to pat. Hollywood ending in the 1920's England? Boo.

It is interesting to see the aristocracy with a deathgrip on tradition while the future leaves them behind. Many times i have gone to the UK and flown over these massive estates with acres and acres of land around them and wondered if they are still inhabited, or have they been turned into museums.

I can't even imagine what it costs for heat and electricity for one of those castles. Yikes.
 
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