Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve probably heard of the wildly popular BBC/PBS series Downton Abbey. Fans are eagerly anticipating the third season here in the U.S., which will begin airing in January.
The series has sparked a renewed interest in Edwardian style and an appreciation for British historic homes like Highclere Castle, which is the real-life setting for the fictitious Downtown Abbey. Add in the Anglophile fever that erupted this summer with the London Olympics, and suddenly everyone wants to know how they can dress like the series’ lovely Crawley ladies and how exactly they can add a British touch to their homes.
Architectural Digest recently received a behind-the-scenes tour of the Downton Abbey set, courtesy of the program’s set decorator Judy Farr, and its production designer Donal Woods. Woods says that they originally chose Highclere because each of its rooms is decorated differently. The designers did use quite a bit of Highclere’s original furnishings, but also brought in reproductions of other items from the time period, like sofas, lamps, and tables. And to create each room’s authentic design, the team pored over old photographs of English houses dating from 1910 to 1920.
If you’re looking for inspiration for your own manor house, the Bienenstock Furniture Library makes that research easy for you. You can search the library’s shelves online here: http://opac.libraryworld.com/opac/home, where you’ll find titles like English Country: Living in England’s Private Houses, by Caroline Seebohm. It’s a wealth of information that will have you speaking proper British in no time.