Are you a Downton Abbey fan?

“The sun is rising behind Downton Abbey, a great and splendid house in a great and splendid park. So secure does it appear, that it seems as if the way of life it represents will last for another thousand years. It won’t.”

So begins the saga you may be enjoying as much as I do:

Downton Abbey.

If you’re not familiar, this PBS series is set in the fictional Downton Abbey, a breathtaking Yorkshire country house (read: castle), and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants during the reign of King George V.

This show is well worth a cozy vicarious hour on Sunday evenings (9 p.m. my time PST).
Fellow fans will get a kick out of this little factoid I stumbled across the other day:

“As far away in miles and lifestyle as Downton Abbey may seem, there’s a close connection between northern Wyoming and the stately castle where the smash hit PBS series is shot,” revealed the Billings Gazette.

It sounds a lot like a made-for-TV movie plot, but the real Highclere Castle, which “stars” as Downton Abbey itself, is owned by the Earl of Carnarvon, who happens to be the first cousin of Wyoming rancher Paul Wallop.

As it turns out, Wallop’s great-grandfather Oliver was the son of the Earl of Portsmouth, but he was one of the period’s “remittance men,” younger sons of British families who didn’t stand to inherit a title or land. Many of these young swashbucklers, out to claim their own chunk of destiny, headed over the pond, landing in Montana and Wyoming in the 1800s, where they were subsidized by payments from home.

“Oliver first bought land near Birney, Montana, before buying the Canyon Ranch at Big Horn in 1889,” recounts the Gazette. “He also served in the Wyoming State Legislature … [but] when Oliver’s older brothers died without heirs, Oliver inherited the title of earl and returned to Great Britain.”

This walloping behind-the-scenes “real-life” tale has as many twists as its fictional Downton Abbey counter-part, involving senators, horse racing, castles, Queen Elizabeth, and even King Tut’s tomb.

Get all of the delicious details here, and then bide your time until the next episode by delving into the traditional tummy-tempting dishes of the post Edwardian period with Downton Abbey Cooks.

The Crawley Sisters: Lady Edith, Lady Sybil, Lady Mary

“I want a good man for you, a brave man. Find a cowboy in the Middle West and bring him back to shake us up a bit.” Christmas at Downton Abbey, Robert Crawley to daughter Mary.


  1. Elizabeth says:

    “Are you a Downton Abbey fan?”

    Yes! We enjoy most British productions, especially the long standing~old fashioned series put on by, PBS. One of the first English sweeping period pieces to capture my attention was the Collin Firth version of, ‘Pride & Prejudice’. I remember being so upset that the fate of the girls in the family depended solely on a loving Father or husband of means. Soon after watching ‘Pride & Prejudice’ (for the first time:-) back in 1995, I decided to research, Feudal Laws in England.

    Then I became intrigued with British foods & bought a “Breads from Around the World” recipe book. Decided I wanted to make the fluffy looking ‘Sally Lunn’ bread & try some clotted cream. Believe I tried scones that year too & loved them. Have always loved tea, so that part wasn’t hard to sell me on at all. But my real English inspired passion started when I researched old garden roses for the first time, and that’s all she wrote on that subject:-)

    It often surprises me too when I become so interested in knowing more about a story, period or people connected to a good book or well acted production I’ve just read or watched. Often those links lead to places & people closer to home, like the Earl of Carnarvon & the Wyoming rancher, Paul Wallop you write about.

    Not long ago I read a book of true accounts on a remarkable, educated, wealthy young lady who (along with her family) fled a troubled Europe just before the Napoleonic Wars. This European family ends up living in a young United States of America not more than a few miles from where I grew up. The young lady ends up marrying an important man of the state but her entire family moves back to Europe shortly thereafter. It was amazing to walk through their home/mansion which the young lady literally helped design, furnish, pay for & raise her many children in; something unheard of at that time.

    Sometimes following the links are just as interesting, if not more educational than the original story. Also enjoy reading about the real cowboy after I’ve watched an engaging movie or learning more about the origin of a phrase, like, “The absent minded professor”. It’s fun stuff.

    • MaryJane says:

      I MUST watch Pride & Prejudice. It’s been on my list forever. You are one more nudge. Maybe even some Sally Lunn bread!

  2. Winnie Nielsen says:

    I am a committed Downton Abby fan! I love this show and all of the characters. In addition to the stories of the family and staff, I found it interesting to learn more about the effects of World War I soldiers and then the ravages of the 1918 Flu epidemic in season 2. Having those issues intimately touch Lord Grantham’s home allowed us to see how difficult life was before we had antibiotics and ways to preserve life and limb. Season 3 is off to a great start and I for one am glued to PBS each week to see what happens next!

  3. Jean says:

    LOVE me some DA… It’s like stepping back in time.

  4. Terry Steinmetz says:

    Yeah for Downton Abbey! A series that is worth watching–and if I miss it one night, it is played on the next afternoon here!!!

  5. What a wonderful story about the connection between the Highclere and the great Wild west. We have a couple of Canadian connections. Julian Fellowes’ wife, Emma Kitchener is the same family who live in and gave Kitchener, ON it’s name. Alexander Galt, one of the Canadian Father’s of Confederation, was the founder of Lethbridge, Alberta, where I grew up. Small world.
    Thanks so much for linking to my blog. I hope you enjoy my modern healthier take on Downton dishes. I can’t believe I had to stop adding recipes (I cried uncle at 220) for my new ecookbook, Abbey Cooks Entertain which is available on Amazon, although you can order a signed version from my website.

    Stay warm and make lots of Irish stew.

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