The Los Angeles Public Library has numerous books and DVDs for Downton Abbey fans who want information about life above and below stairs. Over forty years ago there was the current show's predecessors, the smash-hit Upstairs, Downstairs, plus the very popular The Duchess of Duke Street. Here is a selection of books and DVDs about some of England's imagined and real stately homes. Included are books about gardens, flowers, and food.
Deborah Vivien Freeman-Mitford, Dowager Duchess of Devonshire takes us into the world of running one of England's most well-known stately homes, Chatsworth. Without any formal education but a keen business sense, she tranformed the house and grounds into a beautiful and profitable tourist sight.
This is a particularly charming and funny interview with the Duchess at the Frick Collection.
Here's what goes on behind the camera to produce Downton Abbey: sets, costumes, make-up, music, props, inspiration for the various settings, and exclusive interviews with the actors.
Margaret Powell's life inspired Upstairs, Downstairs and Downton Abbey. In 1920 at the age of 15 she became a kitchen maid. This is what life below stairs was really like, with work starting at 5:30 a.m. and not ending until late in the evening, which included scrubbing floors, dishes, vegetables, and any other type of menial job, plus having to put up with advances by so-called gentlemen.
The Duchess of Devonshire takes you on a tour of one of England's grandest and most treasured houses, Chatsworth. She provides a personal, historical and insider's view of the house which is also her home: including the private rooms where smack-dab in the middle of ancient furnishings is an Elvis telephone which blasts out "Jail House Rock" because the Duchess is a fan. Lavishly illustrated with full-page color photographs and black and white historical ones. Also displayed and discussed are the various artistic treasures and the on-sight workshops where restorative work is done.
Social climber Alva Vanderbilt was determined to be at the top of New York's high society during the Gilded Age. Part of her game plan included forcing her daughter, Consuelo, to marry the Duke of Marlborough, a man she did not love. Surprisingly, Alva who had coerced her daughter into a loveless marriage, became an advocate for women's rights.
The Duchess of Devonshire, the youngest of the well-known Mitford sisters, has put together parts of her diary, to detail what it is like to be the chatelaine of a stately English house. Under her supervision it became one of the most frequented grand houses in England, and turned a profit.
A memoir and cookbook from an insider who worked his way up throught the ranks, and served through the reigns of Queen Victoria to Elizabeth II. Charles Oliver draws upon menus, royal cookbooks, personal recollections and numerous photographs of the royals. It is entirely possible that the Bellamys (Upstairs, Downstairs) who had King Edward VII to dine at Eaton Place, and the Crawleys (Downton Abbey) might have been invited to a royal dinner.
The ultimate companion book to the six seasons of this popular program, and includes interviews with the cast members.
Here is the complete DVD collection of The Duchess of Duke Street.
The biography of Rosa Lewis, the real-life Duchess of Duke Street, upon whom the PBS television program was based.
Master chef Larry Edwards has put together 80 recipes inspired by the popular Dowton Abbey television series. With a brief introduction and modifications for modern kitchen equipment, the recipes cover everything from simple tea sandwiches to rich desserts. Each recipe has a brief historical introduction, and it is not neccesary to have an abbey cook, vegetable maid, stillroom maid, scullery maid to prepare the food, or a footman ". . . to present in the dining room."
The English love gardens, palatial or humble, and flowers. Through paintings, engravings, letters, diaries, Mary Rose Blacker, who worked for years with Britain's National Trust, examines over 400 years of British floral design. There are visual and written instructions for floral arrangements (simple and complex), and two lists of plants: one arranged by century and the other an alphabetical list of common names. Numerous color illustrations.
Sissinghurst is one of England's stately homes and the garden, created by Vita Sackville-West and Sir Harold Nicolson, epitomizes grandeur.
The gentlemen's club is an English institution, a place where upper-class men of like mind sit quietly, converse, drink, gossip, gamble, or get away from their wives, families and stately country homes. This book has many black and white, and color photographs displaying interiors, plus the histories of past glories for over twenty clubs.
American heiress Consuelo Vanderbilt's memoir of her marriage to the Duke of Marlborough, which includes life at Blenheim Palace, and lots of inside views of life above stairs, lived on a very lush scale.
Here are sixty of the most important English manors and castles. Historical and modern photographs, anecdotes, histories of the families which include some eccentric and humorous stories. Gosford Park is nothing compared with some of the shenanigans and eccentricities of the very upper class Brtiish families and their guests.
What is it really like to live in one of England's stately homes? Allow the Duchess of Devonshire to tell you what it's like.
A satirical look at the differences between American and British culture as viewed by an American in 1958. However some things never change, especially in a country with hundreds of years of tradition, so you too can try to live the modern life of a lord or lady of Downton Abbey.
Lady Carnarvan, the current châtelaine and countess of Highclere Castle, has written a well researched biography of Lady Almina, the fifth Countess of Carnarvon.
The unvarnished lives of Edwardian servants is presented with detailed information about dinner parties, scandals, social customs, working and living conditions.
This is the perfect book for Downton Abbey fans, and others. It covers the period between the two World Wars, and describes in sumptuous detail the changing status of country houses, as well as matters ranging from the relative heights of footmen and butlers to the alleged machinations of pro-Nazi members of Parliament. The book will have you swooning before the last page is turned
Lots of behind the scenes information about how the production team and researchers got everything just right: "the proper way to eat, marry, behave, dress, and make money."
"Her cookery book is a firsthand account of the way people cooked and dined in the early twentieth century when houses like those in "Upstairs, Downstairs" and "Downton Abbey" were fully staffed and running like clockwork. "
Mollie Moran describes the human side of working “downstairs” in a 1930s mansion house in London’s Knightsbridge and a Tudor manor in Norfolk. Mollie became a scullery maid at age 14, scrubbing floors and steps and polishing doorknobs, promoting to kitchen maid; at age 20 cooking for the Earl of Leicester’s niece. Leading the life of an independent young woman in London, Moran describes running into Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII before his abdication in 1936, seeing the future Queen Elizabeth II at the age of ten playing outside with her sister, as well as the entertainments single women with little money could enjoy in London. Moran also describes how World War II changed the lives of those living “upstairs” even more than those living “downstairs."
Upstairs, Downstairs generated its very own cookbook, written as if there had been a real Mrs. Bridges, the household cook. There is an editor's introduction with an outline of the cook's life. The recipes are real and were adapted for modern cooks by Adrian Bailey, food editor for Queen and Harpers. Included are photographs from the program, line drawings and ancecdotes about the Bellamy household.
Nancy Lancaster created what became known as the English Country House Style. This work includes numerous illustrations of her interior and garden designs, many of them at stately homes. Through her family and marital relations she entertained and/or created interior designs for Nancy Astor, the Duchess of Devonshire, Anthony Eden, Winston Churchill, the Queen Mother, Princess Elizabeth and many others.
Stately homes, mainly in England, with beautiful gardens, parklands and the people who lived and entertained in them were part of Nancy Lancaster's life and profession. She was married to two aristocratic Englishman; niece to Nancy Astor and to the original Gibson Girl, Irene Gibson; she rescued the three-thousand estate, Ditchley Park; bought the decorating firm of Colefax and Fowler; and became one of the leading designers of the last century.
The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire takes you on four personal walking tours of the grounds at Chatsworth: east, west, north and south. The narrative is in the form of a hypothetical tour, "If you fork right and take the footpath to Edensor . . ." and so on through various parts of the park. In the introduction the business-minded Duchess even includes some pie charts to show changes in net income. The book is full of beautiful color photographs.
Vita Sackville-West, writer and gardener, for almost ten years wrote a weekly column for The Observer, all about life at the famous Sissinghurst estate. Sarah Raven, a well-known modern British gardener, who is married to Vita's grandson, Adam Nicholson, adds interesting, amusing and practical advice about the estate today.
The real life stories of the American heiresses who became titled English ladies, which included all that their money could buy.
The complete fourth season on DVD.
This is the complete fifth season.
This book documents the research done by the the production team, plus behind the scenes information including sketches and beautiful color photographs. All of this will delight any avid Downton Abbey fan.
The perfect gift for Downtown Abbey fans with authentic recipes, behind-the-scenes information about the actors and many of the people who produce the program. There are color photographs on every page.