Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Mistakes at the Abbey

Sunday saw the return of the beloved Downton Abbey to our TV screens. It didn't disappoint, with the marriage of Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary taking place towards the end of the episode.

Lady Mary wore a very simple 1920s straight style wedding dress, I was looking forward to seeing a gorgeous beaded flapper dress but I think this would have been too daring for Mary, probably more of her younger sister Sybil's style.

Downton Abbey and creator Julian Fellowes have always been praised for its accuracy, but after seeing some comments on Twitter about the authenticity of the show I began to question just how historically correct it really was.

Language Errors

In the 1920s "Hello" was still not a typical greeting. "Good day" and  "Good evening" were still very much the norm of conversation. At a push "Hullo" can be argued was used.
There was also a point when Lady Sybil says "I better go up" refering to going to bed for the night, again this type of expression would not have been used. Larry Grey shouts in his outburst "I dunno" but I'll let him off of this one and put it down to the speed at which he was speaking.

Historical Errors

During this time prisoners wore a uniform with stenciled arrows on, which informed it was property of the Government.
York Castle Museum houses the cell in which filming is taking place and where Mr Bates is being held.
Even for an estate of this size, the amount of lighting and lampshades seen on set is ridiculous. If you recall they have only just installed electricity throughout the house (which would have been highly unlikely in itself), so the sheer amount of lampshades being displayed gives more the feel of a museum rather than an actual home of the period. Take a look at this blog to see just how many lamps there really are!

Spot On
However I can't ignore that storylines such as Tom's passion for Irish politics and the break up of the Downton estate as these were very topicable issues at the time. Ireland was plagued with Civil war at this time, and talk of it would have very much invoked passion and emotion from an Irish person. This period also saw the biggest exchange of land in British history, and huge estates like Downton were even more effected with the loss of men on the battlefield and upper class men gambling away family fortunes prior to the war on failed business enterprises.

Thanks to information provided by Matthew Ward at

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