Monday, February 20, 2012

A Very Carson Christmas

I have found the absolutely funniest video I've seen yet from the characters in Downton Abbey.  I watched the final episode of Season 2 - the Christmas episode - this morning (I forgot last night).  Afterwards I always have a slight Downton Abbey/Highclere Castle withdrawal, so I looked up the actual actresses, especially Lady Mary, online.  Michelle Dockery plays Lady Mary.  In any case, I came across a British sort of "Tonight Show" called The Jonathan Ross Show, on which all three beautiful actresses appeared just before Christmas 2011.  My gosh, they are breathtakingly beautiful girls, and there is such a delicate, feminine air about them as if they've absorbed some of the ladylike behavior from being in Downton Abbey.

Here is the video - it is priceless:

Did you like that?  I laughed out loud - he is SO good at playing Carson.  

In my usual fashion, I've done some investigation into the REAL Downton Abbey.  As many people know, the home/estate/castle that appears as Downton Abbey is, in reality, Highclere Castle.  It was built or totally revamped in 1842 by the, I think 3rd Earl of Carnarvon.  The story of Downton Abbey is really not the story of the real 5th Earl of Carnarvon and his wife, Almina Wombwell.  Downton Abbey is a compilation of various stories of many English aristocratic families of that time - true stories, but not of the Carnarvons.  For instance, the story of a visiting guest found dead in his bed by his valet in the morning - true.  According to the writer of Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, this episode comes from something a friend of his discovered while reading his great-aunt's diary from the approximate Edwardian time period.  Julian Fellowes wrote it into Downton Abbey.  Matthew is also a character drawn from reality.  Mr. Fellowes knew or heard of someone in the past who was living a completely different life, who found that he had inherited a title and property as a distant heir.

The web site I linked to for Highclere Castle is not the home page, but I think it is the most interesting because there are actually houses to let on the estate.  There is picture of one, now rented, and it's inside rooms.  Sigh.  Just imagine.  Living in a house on Highclere Castle estate.  That would be heaven on earth for someone like me who loves the outdoors and the countryside - and history.

I think what I love most about the series is the way in which people speak to one another.  People manage to get across their meaning very well indeed without cursing or yelling or behaving in a crass manner.  I've said all this before, so I won't repeat.

The real story of the Carnarvon's is actually more exciting in some ways.  Lord Carnarvon, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, was the man who, with Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of King Tutankhamun in 1922.  Before WWI, it was common for English aristocrats with money to finance their own private digs in Egypt or in other places.  Almina Wombwell, the 5th Earl's wife, was actually the illegitimate daughter of Albert Rothschild and Marie Wombwell.  She was charming, spoiled and was showered with wealth from her father, who called himself her "Godfather".  Her mother, Marie had been married to a good for nothing from good family and she took up with Rothschild and was his mistress for 40 years until he died.  The Carnarvons had money, but when the 5th Earl inherited, he spent like crazy and went through his inheritance in 3 years.  Marrying Almina saved his Highclere Castle as well as all his other properties, and saved his way of life.  She was the woman who turned Highclere Castle into a hospital complete with X Ray machines and operating theaters during World War I.  She threw a great deal of money into nursing injured soldiers and she was quite a remarkable woman.

I've moved on to reading "The Buccaneers", by Edith Wharton, which is a story about a few of the American monied debutantes who went to England and married into the titled, but financially strapped families there.  I'm not crazy about the characters - I like characters with integrity and there isn't much to be found.  Edith Wharton covered the all too human foibles very well, however - and her portrayal of the English aristocracy is unflattering.  Mr. Fellowes mentions "The Buccaneers" in one of his interviews about Downton Abbey, so I decided to read it.

Anyway - that's the latest from this neck of the woods.


Brenda@CoffeeTeaBooks said...

I told my family Monday morning that I was in "Downton Abbey" withdrawal!

I think I read they are starting to tape season 3 about now? I guess that means we'd get it late summer or fall since they get it in England first.

Susan Humeston said...

It will be something to look forward to for Fall. I think Britain gets them first, but maybe they'll do it differently this time. I've fed my Downton Abbey withdrawal with books about the time period - very interesting. I have a new one coming - "The Decline and Fall of the British Aristocracy" - we'll see what that's about.