Watching episodes of Downton Abbey is like scarfing down balls of caramel corn while swilling champagne.                   The New Yorker

I encountered Julian Fellowes, writer and creator of the Downton Abbey series, when he played Kilwillie, a distillery-owning character in the British drama series Monarch of the Glen. As an actor, he never succeeded in winning the hand of Molly, the land-rich, but beleaguered widow, the girl of his dreams. But as master mind of an award-winning PBS series set in post-Edwardian England, Oscar-winning Fellowes is surrounded by drama and divas galore.

Presented in an Upstairs, Downstairs format, Downton Abbey, now in its 4th season, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and the servants who work for them. If you are a devotee, you know that jealousy, revenge, and closely guarded secrets power the plot portrayed by glittering, gossipy, and beguiling men and women against a backdrop of history, politics, and the march of technology.

The series Downton Abbey, a Masterpiece Theatre classic, is now a flourishing brand and there is merchandising to match:


Tuesday evening, my Southern friends and I, escorted by husband Cliff, brave the mild wintry weather to attend a premiere of the 4th season at WJCT, Jacksonville’s PBS station. Period costumes are encouraged and attendees do their best to comply with apparel from the Edwardian period to the flapper age.

We begin with an appetizer at our house:

Mincemeat tarts from Scotland

Mincemeat tarts from Scotland

Tickets and a programme:


Then oohs and aahs over wardrobe choices!


And there is a flapper in our midst, heralding the coming decade!

The lovely Susan Smathers

Finally, the new episode begins!



After the screening, inquiring minds want to know:

What zingers did Lady Violet fire off?

After her period of mourning, who will be Lady Mary’s next love interest?

What new technology is introduced?

Who is in Carson’s arms at the end of the episode?

The mysteries of Downton Abbey are made all the more fascinating by the true story of the castle in which the series is filmed, Highclerc Castle, whose history is recounted narrative-style by its current owner, the Countess of Carnarvon, in her book Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclerc Castle by the Castle of Carnarvon.

Are you a Downton Abbeyite? We are dying to know why. Or why not. Add your bit to the conversation!

There is still time to read and respond to my entry in the My Gutsy Story Contest posted on the website of award-winning author Sonia Marsh:

Rising Above the Pettiness to Focus on the Positive