Monday, 1 August 2016

The Homes and Interiors of Downton Abbey

Greetings from Dubai! I traveled here on Saturday for a week of meetings and I am currently in my hotel (hiding from the scorching heat) with some free time so thought I would be productive and write a new post.

On the flight from Manchester to Dubai I was struggling to find an interesting movie to pass away the time when I stumbled across the Final series of Downton Abbey. I am a huge fan of this show..I just love escaping for an hour into the past to a time when everyone was gracious and homes had armies of staff. I spent the entire flight watching Downton, even letting everyone else disembark the aircraft so I could catch the end of episode six!

One of the things I love most about Downton Abbey is its interiors. Julian Fellowes (Downton's creator) is more familiar than most with the English Country House and its ideals and it seems he chooses the set design and locations to perfection. In one episode we are taken to Ditchley Park, the famous home of Nancy Lancaster who transformed Colefax and Fowler into a brand synonymous with English Country house perfection. 

From the small but charming Georgian rectory of Isobel Crawley to the palatial splendour of Downton Abbey, lets take a look at what makes this show so enchanting. 

The 'real' Downton Abbey is Highclere Castle, home to the Earl and Countess of Carnavon. It is a 5000 acre estate in Hampshire, England and has been used a filming location for various Films and TV shows many times before. Highclere is a Jacobean style house and its interiors are fitting to this era with dark wood panelling, stone walls, heavy fabrics and an all together more masculine feel. Personally this style along with Victorian architecture and interiors is my least favourite. Still, Highclere has a warm and welcoming feel and is very grand. The perfect setting for the Earl and Countess of Grantham. 

The Entrance Hall of 'Downton' is very masculine and typical of the era with its dark wood paneling and stone mixture. It is an impressive and imposing entrance with high vaulted ceilings, intricate stone work and vast floor space. I dread to think of the heating bills. Because this home has been passed on from generation to generation there is a distinct feeling of comfort in what could otherwise be a cold and unwelcoming room. In the show especially, we get to see the warmth of the house as a family home when this room is filled with friends and gracious lamp light gives a special glow. 

The warm glow of the Downton Entrance Hall

Drawing Rooms were often the place where the lady of the house would be let loose to decorate exactly as she pleased. A room to sit with other grand women, the Drawing room was a place for genteel conversation whilst the men smoked cigars and played cards in the more masculine library. The Drawing Room at Downton echoes this exactly and is perhaps the most feminine room in the house. With its pale green silk walls, blush pink upholstery and painted wood with gilded accents, this room is in stark contrast to the rest of the house. 

A feminine touch gives this room real beauty with its soft color palette and delicate details. 

The Downton Dining Room is another room that I love to see on the show. It is always filled with guests enjoying a scrumptious supper by candlelight with the men in full dinner attire and the ladies in jewels and tiaras. I sometimes pause the TV so I can get a closer look at the details: the name cards, the china, the cutlery and glassware, the floral arrangements. Every detail is carefully considered and it creates an  atmosphere of authenticity. 

The packed Dining Room between takes

The small details are carefully considered to create an authentic scene befitting of the times.

In this shot taken during the day it is clearer to see how the room looks. The soft yellow walls are covered in portraits which dominate the room whilst a mixture of heavy wood furniture also darkens the environment.

The Library at Downton is another room with a masculine feel. We see the family use this room mostly during the day where they take tea and chat about the problems they are facing. It is a huge room with columns and floor to ceiling bookcases. I can certainly imagine the Earl of Grantham enjoying a brandy with other gentleman in here.

The scale of the Library can be seen here with its enormous ceilings which are decorated with ornamental carvings. We often see the Crawley's taking tea here, usually with some crisis taking place.

I am a nosey person and always like to see the more personal space in other peoples homes. The bedrooms at Downton are some of my favourite rooms to see as they are more light and elegant and have the personal touches that you do not see in the more formal rooms downstairs. 

Intimate: The Earl and Countess of Grantham in their exquisite bed with its silk headboard and eiderdown blanket. 

In this poor quality photograph you can just see the beautiful color of the pale blue walls which look so good with the gilded gold of the mirror, chairs and wall sconces.

So much comfort in this room. The Countess always gets to enjoy breakfast in bed!

I was delighted to discover that in Lady Mary's bedroom she has the same lampshades as the ones in my Library at home in Scotland.

My 'Lady Mary Crawley' lampshade at home.

Recently, the real Countess of Highclere Castle shared this picture of a bedroom she had just finished decorating. 

The Dowager Countess is my favourite character from Downton Abbey..I also happen to like her house the most too. Filmed at Byfleet Manor, this home is filled with light and the interiors are wonderfully chic with a green panelled drawing room that features heavily in the show. For me it is a welcome relief after enduring all of the dark wood and masculinity of Downton Abbey.

The Facade of Byfleet Manor, the location of the residence of the Dowager Countess

In the show, we only really get to see the Drawing Room of this beautiful house. It is a fully panelled room painted in three shades of pastel green. I find this room so charming and always try to take in everything when watching.

There aren't many pictures of the Drawing Room as it shown on the show.

Recently the house was listed for sale. The interiors are not nearly as nice as the layout and furniture used in the show. 

You can just glimpse the flattering green of the panelling here.

The Dining room as shown in the Sale brochure. This room is never used for filming in the show, I imagine the wood burner would not look so authentic!

I love the curtains

And here we catch a rare glimpse of the Dowagers bedroom. It too has painted panelled walls.

The Dowager observing the news whilst having breakfast in bed.

The final look at the homes and interior of Downton Abbey takes us to the home of Cousin Isobel Crawley who resides at Crawley House. The exterior of this home is a former rectory in the village of Bampton in England. The interiors are filmed at Hall Place in Buckinghamshire.

The exterior of 'Crawley House'

Although poor quality, this picture shows the Georgian charm of the house with its sash windows, simple facade and climbing roses. So English

To me, this house is so appealing because of its simplicity against all of the grandeur of Downton Abbey. I have always admired pretty, Georgian homes and this one is decorated so beautifully. We don't get to see much of Isobel's home and all of the pictures online are very poor quality.

The Drawing Room is so charming with the sash windows and panelling painted in a powder blue.

I just love that color on the walls! Also the silk settee and needlepoint cushions.

Here we are given a glimpse of the Entrance Hall which looks light and beautiful. 

A terrible picture of the Dining Room..although you can see it is a charming room.

I found this lovely picture of the house - To me it is the best house in Downton! Which is yours favorite?


Tuesday, 26 July 2016

A week of Summer and some small changes.

I decided it would be interesting to start including more posts about my life and the things I have been doing; There is so much going on lately that it seems a waste not to write it down and share it with you all. After spending the Winter in Dubai and the end of Spring traveling throughout Europe it has been a real pleasure to come home to Scotland for the Summer. There is not really much to do here but it is this simple way of life that is such a joy for me. I have been able to focus on my personal aims and objectives and I feel I am progressing more than ever before. 

I will still post about Interiors and decoration as much as possible, however I really have to find something fascinating to write about otherwise I don't feel I can give my all to the topic. This is largely the main reason why my posts are so sporadic! You will see from my feature about Villa Windsor that this is the kind of thing that gets me excited, sadly it is a rare occasion.

It has been such a beautiful week in Scotland. As always the weather has been unpredictable but when the sun shines and the breeze is gentle and warm it is such a tranquil place to enjoy. My plan for the week was to sort out home affairs and try to get back into a routine. After locking the house up for  so long it really needed a spring clean and some love and attention. 

Spring Cleaning in the house made me feel so much more content

I also had a busy time this week conducting interviews to find a new housekeeper. At the risk of sounding too #firstworldproblems, I find it so stressful trying to rely on instinct to hire someone trustworthy who will come into your life and witness the most personal aspects of it. As well as looking after the house, the housekeeper also needs to be a 'nanny' to my Shih Tzu, Sophie, who needs looking after when I am traveling. I am pleased to report that this task has been successful and we will have a new member of staff starting in the next few weeks.

Sophie listening attentively to her potential new Nanny

On Tuesday the sun looked as though it would grace the skies without the hindrance of cloud or rain so I raced out of the house and headed into the small town North Berwick, which is just a ten minute walk from my home. Most people would describe this town as a Village; It is a tiny coastal town filled with independent stores and restaurants. At the heart there is a beautiful garden and park..the perfect place to have an ice cream and enjoy the efforts of the locals who have planted flowers and bulbs with great precision.

The Village Garden looking pretty

Enjoying some warm sunshine

To me there is nothing nicer than starting the morning in the company of Horses. Here in North Berwick we have a fantastic stables where I ride two to three times a week. Its location is the most glorious mixture of countryside and coast and the amazing choice of hacking routes all culminate in a wonderful canter along the beach. My horse absolutely hates to walk but patiently waits until he is instructed to trot and then bolts into a canter after three strides! I suppose you have to appreciate his enthusiasm for life. 

McDuff is always eager to get going..he loves to canter.

Hopetoun House is a 45 minute drive from my home and very close to the City of Edinburgh. After planning to visit since I moved here, I finally did so this week. Sadly it was somewhat of an anticlimax. First impressions are vital and the lack of visual beauty as you drive along the approach to the house is quite disappointing. Two oblongs of grass lawn are the only relief of colour in a sea of grey stone which sets the tone for the rest of the experience.

A canvas of grey stone, although the Georgian Facade is impressive

I hate to moan, but the Interiors of Hopetoun were also a let down. Including the Entrance Hall there are only four rooms that were mildly impressive; The others looked a little worn out and tired and I am usually a sucker for threadbare English style decor. 

The Yellow Drawing Room was my favourite at Hopetoun

The Red Drawing Room

The Dining Room is filled with family portraits

This past weekend has mostly seen rain filled hours with Sophie and I taking refuge indoors. This is when I enjoy looking through all my books, most of which I have pored over a thousand times but still find enchanting. I love nothing more than reading about the way other people live..for my sake I hope you do too.

To see more, follow me on Instagram: @nicolasdepompadour