Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Downton Abby

(Warning: this is a long one)

Are you watching "Downton Abbey" on Masterpiece Classics?  I have been waiting for it and am absolutely mesmerized now that it is finally on!!  I have been recording it and re-watching over and over.  There is so much to see!   I subscribe to "The English Home" and the February issue has an article on the country house that was used as Downton Abbey.   The series reminds me of "Upstairs, Downstairs" from Masterpiece in the '70s.  Does anyone remember that one?   I did not miss an episode of that series either (actually, more have been made...can't wait for that, as well).  Another amazing film that has some gorgeous dinner scenes is "The Age of Innocence" which is one of my favorite movies of all time!

Back to Downton Abbey...the writing is wonderful, the acting fabulous, and the costumes and sets-to die for!!  Can you tell I'm smitten?  In the first episode, one scene shows the family coming to breakfast.  Although there were footmen serving at lunch, tea, and dinner, breakfast was a different thing altogether.  The sideboard was set with dishes and food and everyone helped themselves because people started their days at different times depending on what individuals' plans were (of course, some of the ladies had breakfast brought up, which is a whole DIFFERENT thing). 

I am fascinated by a life so gracious and privileged (but the life of the staff was something different altogether!  That was some hard work!!)  There is a wonderful book about life of the upper classes in the 19th Century.  It's called "What Jane Austen Ate and Charles Dickens Knew" by Daniel Pool.  It's a great read and explains a lot to those of us not born to the upper class.  It's a terrific resource when reading british novels of those eras.  I don't know if it is still in print, though. didn't come here for this rambling so here is my "tablescape" for this week.  I would say this is a little fantasy (in which I play the upstairs AND downstairs parts).   I decided to set breakfast on the sideboard.  So here we go!

Our sideboard is not very large and actually didn't accomodate any FOOD!!  Just imagine that there are a few extra feet of sideboard on either side!!!
Plates for whatever you choose for breakfast from eggs to toast or maybe scones and jam...

You can have your soft-boiled egg in one of these charming egg cups.  My British husband has his childhood "eggs and soldiers" on occasion still...

Toast in the silver toast rack

This is a clever footed butter server. 
The dome of this lid slides back and rolls underneath the piece!
Let's see...marmalade in the crystal jam jar and strawberry jam in the china one?

Your choice of tea or coffee...
Milk and sugar, so pick up a cup for the beverage of your choice...
Here is a last look....

I hope you are enjoying "Downton Abbey".  There is a VERY good chance that there will be more about it on my blog!  Thank you for enduring this long and rambling blog!!  Oh, there is the drawing room bell; I'd better run!!

Now for the dish on the dishes:
  • All of the china is "Old Country Roses".  Much of it was wedding gifts from Peter's family in England (this pattern was not available at the time of Downton Abbey because it wasn't made until 1962)
  • The silver plate flatware pieces are Reed and Barton "Rathmore" and a few random patterns of which I have only individual pieces
  • The crystal jam jar is an ebay find
I love to hear from you.  Thank you for stopping by!!!


  1. My best friend's daughter has Old Country Roses, and it sets a lovely table. Enjoyed your breakfastscape and especially those cute egg cups.

    I haven't seen the series you mentioned, but it sounds great. I love anything British.

    Happy Tablescape Thursday...


    Sheila :-)

  2. I handn't heard of this series but it sounds like something I would enjoy so I'm so glad you've told us about it.

    Your breakfast sideboard is wonderful. Your silver toast rack and butter dish with rolling dome lid are very special.

    - The Tablescaper

  3. I have that same butter server. I found it at an estate sale for $5.00. I love your unique pieces!

  4. Tess, I am also smitten with Downton Abbey! I love your take on their breakfast spread -- just lovely! Those little egg cups are adorable, and you even have a silver toast rack! Great idea, to feature a buffet inspired by that series!

  5. Tess, I have not heard of this show. Sounds like a fun one. I enjoyed looking at your Buffet and all the fun things, egg cups, butter server, toast rack. I will have to check out the show. Joni

  6. Tess, I have been watching Downton Abbey. It is so like Upstairs, Downstairs. I am from England originally, so I *cut my teeth* on that series. I recently ordered the whole original series from the library, plus the additional episodes which were the life of Thomas and Sarah.

  7. Tess, I meant to add, that I too am a lover of Teacups, Tea Parties and Tabbies!! :)
    I found you via B.N.O.P. blogs.

  8. I am so glad that people are stopping by and am happy that there are others who are watching Downton Abbey. I have linked to PBS so that those who are not hooked already, can become so, very soon!!

    Meg, from England...I tried to reach you back but couldn't find contact info. They have made a few more Upstairs, Downstairs too!

  9. Your buffet is perfect. Wouldn't it be a treat to awake to such finery in the morning. I love the thought of setting everything out like you did.

  10. Tess, I heard that about Upstairs, Downstairs, but I would not find it the same as the original would you?

  11. Megan...

    I am looking forward to it because it's set at the beginning of WWII (I think) which is another one of my favorite periods. Jean Marsh will still be there as Rose, so there should be some continuity, but there seems to be a new young family. I hope you will enjoy it.

  12. It does sound interesting, I wonder when it will air on PBS? Who is Rose living with?
    Tess, I gave a British Afternoon Tea for six ladies in November. I was in England last year and brought over some cream horn molds, the cakes turned out great. Everything in England is cupcake crazy at the moment, so took advantage of this and bought some decorations.


  13. Beautiful, Tess! Now all you need to do is put on a tiara/crown and you're good to go! That's surely what I would do!!! Have a great weekend!

  14. Hi Tess, I missed seeing the first few episodes of Downton Abbey, so I am waiting to see it all at once on DVD! I am such an Anglophile and I LOVE these British period pieces--the more authentic the better. If you are looking for another show try Foyle's War. Set in WWII England in Hastings, it is hard not to get hooked. Clothing and everything is extremely authentic. Stay warm! Linda

  15. I have not seen that series -- but I found your breakfast setting to be enchanting!

  16. Old Country Roses always adds a special touch to any setting. I'll look for the series...thank you for sharing your beautiful design. Cherry Kay

  17. Tess, you have some marvelous collections! Beautiful china & accessories to go along with it, too & your silverware is TDF!

    I just spent an hour going back over your past posts...delightful!

  18. I'll look for the series Tess. Old Country Roses is delightful! You inquired about the local store that I love, and it is the Old Wicker Mill in New Hartford shopping center. Have you ever seen their coordinating displays? I only buy on sale there :-)