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"The April rain, the April rain,
Comes slanting down in fitful showers,
Then from the furrow shoots the grain,
And banks are fledged with nestling flowers;
And in grey shawl and woodland bowers
The cuckoo through the April rain
Calls once again."

Mathilde Blind, April Rain
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Downton Abbey

mheredgemheredge TeacherHere and therePosts: 31,101 mod
This much loved British TV series ran to 6 series between 2010 and 2015. Set in a fictional Yorkshire country location, the series follows the fortunes of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian era and how the great events in history effected their lives and the British social hierarchy. From the news of the sinking of the Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic and Marconi scandal in the second series; the Irish War of Independence and formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series; and the British general election of 1923, the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, and the Beer Hall Putsch in the fifth series; the sixth and final series then shows the rise of the working class during the interwar period and hints at the eventual decline of the British aristocracy.

If you haven't seen it, have a look at some of these clips that give you a taster of this, one of the most popular costume dramas ever broadcast.



  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    @markov I have taken you up on your suggestion and we'll be reading and talking about Downton Abbey in today's session. I'm not sure if the new time (5pm) will be suitable for you but hope to see you later if you can join us.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    If you want to read about Downton Abbey, go to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Downton_Abbey @mohit_singh, @april, @Hermine, @Nippur, @nadjib

  • HermineHermine Moderator Posts: 6,957 mod
    Those are the lines weˋve read from today, arenˋt they Marianne?

  • RemaRema Posts: 1,189 ✭✭✭✭✭
    mheredge said:

    @markov I have taken you up on your suggestion and we'll be reading and talking about Downton Abbey in today's session. I'm not sure if the new time (5pm) will be suitable for you but hope to see you later if you can join us.

    Thanks @mheredge, hopefully I'll be there next week to join you in discussing about this great tv show :)
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    Next week we shall look at another movie or series @Rema. Please suggest anything you are particularly interested in. I might look at Brideshead Revisited, which despite being quite old (1980s), until Downton Abbey came along, was the most popular series of this kind. It is also based on a very good book written by one of Britain's greatest twentieth century authors.
  • GemmaRowlandsGemmaRowlands Moderator Posts: 6,729 mod
    I have seen all of the episodes of Downton Abbey, and I really enjoyed watching it. That side of life from years gone by really fascinates me, and I like learning more about what it was like.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    I loved he dresses that the characters wore @GemmaRowlands. I'm sure that the series influenced fashion.

    I had an interesting day trip to the Earl of Verulam 's stately home near St Albans when I'd been invited to study some private papers they still held about the second and third Earls of Verulam who I was studying for my history degree. Whiles I was studying at university, our history department organised a visit to Chatsworth, home of the Duke of Devonshire who is also patron of Manchester University. We were given a guided tour by the librarian at the house. It was fascinating how feudal it still seemed even in the 1980s. This family is still one of the richest. They paid off a lot of death duties by giving art to the government in lieu of money.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    Downton Abbey is a historical period drama television series created by Julian Fellowes and co-produced by Carnival Films and Masterpiece. It first aired on ITV in the United Kingdom on 26 September 2010, and on PBS in the United States on 9 January 2011 as part of the Masterpiece Classic anthology.

    The series, set in the fictional Yorkshire country estate of Downton Abbey between 1912 and 1925, depicts the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants in the post-Edwardian era—with the great events in history having an effect on their lives and on the British social hierarchy. Events depicted throughout the series include news of the sinking of the RMS Titanic in the first series; the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish influenza pandemic, and the Marconi scandal in the second series; the Irish War of Independence leading to the formation of the Irish Free State in the third series; the Teapot Dome scandal in the fourth series; and the British general election of 1923, the Jallianwala Bagh Massacre, and the Beer Hall Putsch in the fifth series. The sixth and final series introduces the rise of the working class during the interwar period and hints towards the eventual decline of the British aristocracy.

    Downton Abbey has received acclaim from television critics and won numerous accolades, including a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries or Television Film and a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie. It was recognised by Guinness World Records as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011. It earned the most nominations of any international television series in the history of the Primetime Emmy Awards, with twenty-seven in total (after two series). It was the most watched television series on both ITV and PBS, and subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since the 1981 television serial of Brideshead Revisited. By the third series, it had become one of the most widely watched television drama shows in the world.

    On 26 March 2015, Carnival Films and ITV announced that the sixth series would be the last. It aired on ITV between 20 September 2015 and 8 November 2015. The final episode, serving as the annual Christmas special, was broadcast on 25 December 2015. Although there are no plans in place, there are strong rumours of a future film adaptation, with executive producer Gareth Neame saying that he was "very interested" and bookmakers Ladbrokes stating that "it only looks like being a matter of time before the film is released".
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    The first series, comprising seven episodes, explores the lives of the fictional Crawley family, the hereditary Earls of Grantham, and their domestic servants beginning the day after the historic sinking of the RMS Titanic on 14/15 April 1912. The storyline centres on the fee tail or "entail" governing the titled elite, which endows title and estate exclusively to heirs male. As part of the backstory, the main character, Robert, Earl of Grantham, had resolved past financial difficulties by marrying Cora Levinson, an American heiress. Her considerable dowry is contractually incorporated into the comital entail in perpetuity. Robert and Cora have three daughters and no sons. As the eldest daughter, Lady Mary Crawley was to marry her second cousin, son of the then–heir presumptive. The first episode begins as news reaches Downton Abbey that both Grantham heirs perished in the sinking of the Titanic. A distant male cousin, solicitor Matthew Crawley, is from an upper-middle-class family - as his mother reminds him in episode one of series one. Matthew Crawley becomes the new heir. The plot centres on the relationship between Lady Mary and Matthew, who resists embracing an aristocratic lifestyle.

    A subplot involves John Bates, Lord Grantham's new valet, and Thomas Barrow, who resents Bates replacing him and causing Barrow to be demoted back to footman. Bates and Thomas remain at odds as Barrow works to sabotage Bates after learning he was recently released from jail for theft. In the story line, Barrow, a gay man in late Edwardian England, aided by Miss O'Brien, Lady Grantham's maid, creates havoc for most of the staff. Barrow is caught stealing but hands in his notice as he has joined the Royal Army Medical Corps. Matthew eventually falls in love with Lady Mary, but she rejects his proposal. Cora becomes pregnant but miscarries after O'Brien, mistakenly believing she was to be fired, retaliates by leaving a bar of soap on the slippery bathroom floor. The series ends just after the Archduke Franz Ferdinand's assassination and the outbreak of the First World War in July 1914.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    Series 2: 2011
    The second series comprises eight episodes and runs from the Battle of the Somme in 1916 to the 1918 flu pandemic. During the war, Downton Abbey is temporarily converted into an officers' hospital.

    Matthew becomes engaged to Lavinia Swire, a wealthy solicitor's daughter, and joins the British Army as an officer. William Mason, the 2nd footman, finally gets permission from his father to join the Army and becomes Matthew's soldier servant. Unfortunately both are injured in a bomb blast. William dies from his wounds after a deathbed marriage to Daisy, the kitchen maid. Daisy never loved William but Mrs Patmore, Downton's cook, pressured her to make William's last days happy by marrying him.

    Mary finally acknowledges her feelings for Matthew, but becomes engaged to Sir Richard Carlisle, a powerful and ruthless newspaper mogul. Their relationship is rocky but Mary is bound to Carlisle after he squashes a story regarding her past scandalous indiscretion. Bates's wife, Vera, repeatedly causes trouble for John and Anna, now his fiancée, and threatens to expose a Crawley secret. When Mrs Bates mysteriously dies, Bates is arrested on suspicion of her murder. Matthew and Mary realise they are in love but Matthew honourably remains committed to marrying Lavinia. Unknown to him, a devastated Lavinia overhears Matthew and Mary declare their love. The Spanish influenza epidemic hits Downton Abbey at the end of the war. Cora, taken seriously ill, survives, but Lavinia, also infected, dies. Barrow is rehired at Downton after helping the staff during the outbreak. Mary and Matthew reunite, while Bates is found guilty of murder and sentenced to be executed.

    Lady Sybil, the youngest Crawley daughter, who hated her stifling aristocratic life, falls in love with Tom Branson, the chauffeur with strong socialist beliefs. They elope to Ireland after receiving Lord Grantham's reluctant blessing.

    Ethel Parks, a new housemaid, has a relationship with one of the injured officers, Major Bryant. Mrs Hughes finds them together and dismisses Ethel, but takes pity on her and helps when Ethel realises that she is pregnant. She has a baby boy and names him Charlie after his father, but Major Bryant refuses to believe that he is the baby's father
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    Series 3: 2012
    In the third series, 1920–1921, Mary has ended her engagement to Richard Carlisle, despite his vindictive threats to expose her past indiscretion. Mary and Matthew are married in the series premiere, but Robert (Lord Grantham) learns that the bulk of the family's fortune (including Cora's dowry) has been lost, due to his well-intentioned but poor investments. In the meantime, Edith has fallen hard for Sir Anthony Strallen, whom Robert discourages from marrying Edith due to his age and infirm condition. At Edith's insistence, Robert gives in and welcomes Sir Anthony, but the latter cannot accept the fact that there is no reservation from the Grantham family, and at the altar on their wedding day announces that he cannot go through with the marriage, devastating Edith.

    Meanwhile, due to dislike and increasing tension, Bates' cellmate tries to sabotage him with a crime that will ruin his chances for a pardon, but Bates is informed by a fellow prisoner that this will occur, and the guards cannot find what they are seeking. Back at Downton, Mrs Hughes finds out she may have breast cancer, which only some of the household hear about, causing deep concern, but the tumour turns out to be benign, much to everyone's relief. Tom Branson and Lady Sybil, now pregnant, return to Downton after Tom is implicated in the burning of an Irish aristocrat's house. After Matthew's reluctance to accept an inheritance from Lavinia's recently deceased father and then Robert's reluctance in turn to accept that inheritance as a gift, Matthew and Robert reach a compromise in which Matthew accepts and uses the inheritance to invest in Downton, giving him an equal say in how the estate is run.

    Tragedy strikes when Sybil dies from pre-eclampsia, shortly after giving birth. Tom, devastated, names his daughter Sybil, after his late wife. Bates is released from prison after Anna uncovers evidence clearing him of his wife's murder. Tom becomes the new estate agent at the suggestion of Dowager Countess Violet. Barrow and Miss O'Brien have a falling out, after which O'Brien leads Barrow to believe that Jimmy, the new footman, is sexually attracted to him. Barrow enters Jimmy's room and kisses him, so that Jimmy wakes up shocked and confused. In the end, Lord Grantham defuses the situation. The family visits Lady Violet's niece and her husband, the Marquess of Flintshire, in Scotland, while awaiting the birth of Matthew and Lady Mary's baby. The Marquess confides to Robert that the estate is bankrupt and will be sold, making Robert recognise that Downton has been saved through Matthew and Tom's efforts to modernise. Mary gives birth to the new heir, but Matthew dies in a car crash while driving home from the hospital.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    Series 4: 2013
    In series four, 1922–1923, Cora's maid Miss O'Brien, desiring adventure and travel, leaves to serve Lady Flintshire in India. Cora hires Edna Braithwaite, who had previously been fired for her interest in Tom. Eventually the situation blows up, and Edna is replaced by Miss Baxter.

    Lady Mary deeply mourns Matthew's death. Matthew's newly-found will gives Mary management over his share of the estate until their son, George, comes of age. With Tom's encouragement, Mary assumes a more active role in running Downton. Two new suitors — Lord Gillingham and Charles Blake — arrive at Downton, though Mary, still grieving, is not interested. Middle daughter Lady Edith, who has begun writing a weekly newspaper column, and Michael Gregson, her editor, fall in love. Due to British law, he is unable to divorce his wife, who is mentally ill and in an asylum. Gregson travels to Germany to seek citizenship there, enabling him to divorce, but is killed by Hitler's Brownshirts during riots.

    Edith is left pregnant and with help from her paternal aunt, Lady Rosamund, secretly gives birth to a daughter. She intends to give her up for adoption in Switzerland and places the baby with adoptive parents but reclaims her after arranging a new adoptive family on the estate. Mr and Mrs Drewe of Yew Tree Farm take the baby in and raise her as their own.

    Anna is raped by Lord Gillingham's valet, Mr Green. Bates discovers this and Mr Green is killed in a London street accident. A local schoolteacher, Sarah Bunting and Tom begin a friendship, though Robert (Lord Grantham) despises her due to her openly vocal anti-aristocracy views. In the final Christmas special, Sampson, a card sharp, steals a letter from the Prince of Wales to his mistress, Rose's friend Freda Ward, which, if made public, would create a scandal; the entire Crawley family connives to retrieve it, though it is Bates who extracts the letter from Sampson's overcoat, and it is returned to Mrs. Ward.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    Series 5: 2014
    In series five, 1924, a Russian exile, Prince Kuragin, wishes to renew his past affections for the Dowager Countess. Lady Violet instead reunites Prince Kuragin with his estranged wife. Scotland Yard and the local police investigate Green's death. Lady Violet learns about Edith's daughter, young Marigold. Meanwhile, Mrs Drewe, not knowing Marigold's true parentage, resents Edith's constant visits. To increase his chances with Mary, Charles Blake plots to reunite Gillingham and his ex-fiancée, Mabel. After Edith inherits Michael Gregson's publishing company, she removes Marigold from the Drewes and relocates to London. Bricker, an art expert interested in one of Downton's pictures, shows his real intentions toward Cora and is thrown out by Robert, causing a temporary rift between them.

    Mrs Patmore's decision to invest her inheritance in real estate inspires Carson, Downton's butler, to do likewise. He suggests that head housekeeper Mrs. Hughes invest with him; she confesses she has no money due to supporting an incapacitated sister. The Crawleys' cousin, Lady Rose, daughter of Lord and Lady Flintshire, becomes engaged to Atticus Aldridge, son of Lord and Lady Sinderby. Lord Sinderby strongly objects to Atticus's marrying outside the Jewish faith. Lord Merton proposes to Isobel Crawley (Matthew's mother). She accepts, but later ends the engagement due to Lord Merton's sons' disparaging comments over her commoner background. Lady Flintshire employs underhanded schemes to derail Rose and Atticus's engagement, including announcing to everyone that she and her husband are divorcing, intending to cause a scandal to stop Rose's marriage to Atticus; they are married anyway.

    When Anna is arrested on suspicion of Green's murder, Bates writes a false confession before fleeing to Ireland. Miss Baxter and Molesley, a footman, are able to prove that Bates was in York at the time of the murder. Anna is released when the original witness against her is uncertain. Cora eventually learns the truth about Marigold, and wants her raised at Downton; Marigold is presented as Edith's ward, but Robert and Tom eventually discern the truth: only Mary is unaware. When a war memorial is unveiled in the town, Robert arranges for a separate plaque to honour Mrs Patmore's late nephew, who was executed for cowardice and excluded from his own village's memorial.

    Lord and Lady Sinderby invite the Crawleys and the Flintshires to their country estate. While there, Lady Rose, with help from the Crawleys, defuses a near–personal disaster for Lord Sinderby, earning his gratitude and securing his approval of Rose. A second footman, Andy, is hired on Barrow's recommendation. During the annual Downton Abbey Christmas celebration, Tom Branson announces he is moving to America to work for his cousin, taking daughter Sybil with him. Mr Carson proposes marriage to Mrs Hughes and she accepts.

  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    Series 6: 2015
    In series six, 1925, changes are once again afoot at Downton Abbey as the middle class rises and more bankrupted aristocrats are forced to sell off their large estates. Downton must do more to ensure its future survival; reductions in staff are considered, forcing Barrow to look for a job elsewhere. Lady Mary thwarts a would-be blackmailer with assistance from Lord Grantham and becomes the estate's agent. Edith is more hands-on in running her magazine and also hires a woman editor. Lady Violet and Isobel once again draw battle lines as a government take-over of the local hospital is considered.

    Meanwhile, Anna, officially absolved of Mr Green's murder, suffers repeated miscarriages. A specialist diagnoses a treatable condition, and she becomes pregnant again. Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes' wedding reception is held at the schoolhouse, during which Tom Branson and five-year-old Sybil return to Downton for good. Baxter's former theft accomplice Peter Coyle is convicted after she and other witnesses are persuaded to testify. After Mrs Drewe snatches Marigold when Edith is not looking, the Drewes vacate Yew Tree Farm; Daisy convinces the Lord Grantham to give her father-in-law, Mr Mason, the tenancy. Andy, a footman, offers to help Mr Mason so he can learn about farming, but is held back by his illiteracy; Mr Barrow offers to teach Andy to read.

    Robert suffers a near-fatal health crisis. After alluding to a health crisis for Robert in previous episodes, the head of the Crawley family suffered a burst ulcer and was immediately rushed to the hospital, where he had a successful surgery. This forces Mary and Tom to take over Downton's operations. Larry Merton's fiancee, Amelia, claims to want Lord Merton and Isobel Crawley to renew their engagement but Lady Violet rightly suspects Amelia wants Isobel as an old man's caretaker.[6] Daisy and Mr Molesley score high marks on their academic exams; Molesley's are so exceptional that he is offered a teaching position at the school. Mary ends her relationship with Henry Talbot, unable to live with the constant fear he could be killed in a car race. Bertie Pelham proposes to Edith, but she hesitates to accept because of Marigold. Lady Violet, upset over Lady Grantham replacing her as hospital president, abruptly departs for a long cruise to restore her equanimity.

    Bertie Pelham unexpectedly inherits his late cousin's title as marquess, but when Mary cruelly exposes Edith's secret, Bertie, upset, abruptly walks out. Tom confronts Mary over her spitefulness and her true feelings for Henry. Baxter saves a despondent Barrow after a suicide attempt, causing Robert and Mr Carson to reconsider Barrow's position at Downton. Mary and Henry reunite and are married. Mary apologises to Edith, and the sisters reconcile. Mrs Patmore's new bed and breakfast business is tainted by scandal, but the Crawleys lend support by appearing there publicly. When Mary secretly arranges for Edith and Bertie to meet, Bertie proposes again and Edith accepts. Bertie's mother initially opposes the match but is won over by Edith's honesty. Barrow finds a position as butler and leaves Downton on good terms, but he is unhappy at his new post.

    When Lord Merton is diagnosed with terminal pernicious anemia, Amelia bars Isobel from seeing him. Isobel and Lady Violet arrive at the Merton estate where Isobel announces she intends to marry Lord Merton and will care for him. Lord Merton is later correctly diagnosed with non-fatal anaemia. Sir Robert resents Cora's frequent absences as the hospital president but eventually comes to admire her ability. Henry and Tom go into business together selling cars, while Mary announces her pregnancy. Molesley accepts a permanent teaching position and he and Miss Baxter promise to continue seeing each other. Daisy realises that Andy may be the right man for her after all and decides to move to the farm with her father-in-law. When Carson is no longer able to physically carry out his duties, Lord Grantham suggests Barrow return as butler, with Carson in an oversight role. Edith and Bertie are married on New Year's Eve. Lady Rose and Atticus return for the wedding. Anna goes into labour during the reception, and she and Bates become parents to a healthy son.

  • BubblyBubbly Nightingale Posts: 30,268 ✭✭✭✭✭✭
    I simply love it! <3 Another reason for my deepest love for the UK. :)
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    This is a nostalgic look in the past @Bubbly. The UK is not like this any more, for good or for worse.
  • navidafrasiabiannavidafrasiabian Posts: 1,315 ✭✭✭✭✭
    I have watched 2 sessions of it and I like it so much. The most amazing thing about it was having various kinds of British accents.
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    British TV is usually very kind and doesn't have any very strong accents @navidafrasiabian. In real life however, you'd probably find the accents more pronounced.
  • jackelliotjackelliot Posts: 822 OTT

    here is another abbey that i have enjoyed visiting

  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    What a beautiful chateau @jackelliot. France is full of these lovely old buildings. Yesterday I visited a medieval village in the Alps that was part of Italy till only 70 years ago. However the chateau here is just a ruin. It was built in the 14th century but an earthquake in 1543 partially destroyed it. Then if this wasn't enough, during the French Revolution (1794) it was attacked and there was a fire. The remains have been cleaned up and have been protected as part of the local heritage since 1995.


  • GemmaRowlandsGemmaRowlands Moderator Posts: 6,729 mod

    I have watched 2 sessions of it and I like it so much. The most amazing thing about it was having various kinds of British accents.

    The majority of British accents in this are "posh" accents, though. Having said that, it makes them very easy to understand, which is great if you are trying to learn English!
  • jackelliotjackelliot Posts: 822 OTT
    @mheredge thank you for that picture and that nice story
  • mheredgemheredge Teacher Here and therePosts: 31,101 mod
    Posh accents @GemmaRowlands? Maybe they are more 'southern' accents or those that don't have much of a regional accent. I recall at school being accused of having a 'posh' accent which was only because most of the other kids had Cockney accents or were badly spoken, while I just had a neutral off-the-shelf Home Counties accent.
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