Recently i got to borrow this book from the library and it was a very good read especially when it comes to giving you little facts about the era and also filming that you didn’t know. I felt that some of the information at the beginning of the book was pretty standard and that you could probably find it online but it all has to do with Downton and what the characters lives involve. The book is divided into nine chapters that cover more of the life of an Edwardian person than a guide to the filming of the series, it is only at the very end that they dedicate the last chapter to filming. For me, i wanted to learn more about filming and costume (costume got a chapter too but related to how the characters would have worn them not about the production of costumes), that is why i said that it provides little tit bits here and there because my aim was different if you know what i mean. So what i’ve done here is just typed out some interesting parts of the book that i liked and i think that this book is useful if you want to learn about the Edwardian society and the time period that Downton Abbey is set in, if you want filming stuff, i’m pretty sure there is another book that just came out. I will also put in some things about costume in the Edwardian era because i’m interested in that.
The Bell board- The names of all the upstairs rooms are on the bell board in the servants hall; the bedrooms- Portico, Arundel, Queen Caroline, Mercia, East Anglia, Grantham, Stanhope, York, Ripon, Wetherby- as well as the dining room, morning room, library, small library, saloon, front door, back door, study, drawing room and west room. Ok, this is cool because i’ve always wanted to know all the rooms that were on the infamous bell board. I also read earlier in the book that this board made the lives of the servants much easier because they didn’t need to have someone always straining their ears to hear if the master was calling. So yay technology.
I found this information quite true because i did do a scene where there was eating (in a short play) and it was difficult because you were trying to talk and project your voice at the same time, although this is not the same but it’s good to know. “A dining scene may last only a few minutes but it can take between 10 to 12 hours to film. This is because the director needs to shoot each actor and that can mean three or four takes per person. Dan Steven says he quickly learned not to eat during these scenes: ‘If youdecided you’re going to eat, say five mouthfuls of chicken, then by the end of the day you’ve had about 70 and it’s cold and congealed.'”
The kitchen- ‘When it came to kitchen scenes, the stand-by art director philippa Broadhurst used detailed notes she had taken from various references, including the 1912 Edinburgh Cookbook for Smart Houses, to get ideas for background activities.
Hair- ‘All the wigs are tailormade for the actresses, but Maggie Smith has her own wigmaker, Peter Owen who is the best out there and has previously worked with Maggie.’
Alastair Bruce is the historical advisor on the set, hey i want your job too! How do i get it?
Make up-they need to make it look as natural as possible because at that time women who wore too much make up were whores which is not surprising really.
Penny Dyer a dialogue coach for Downton Abbey states that ‘The real difference in speech with a period piece is not so much the pronunciation of the words but that the height of the ceilings and the size of the rooms affect the voice, Fo example those who work below stairs probably grew up with large families in a cramped household, scrabbling for space beneath low ceilings, so their sound is pushed sideways.’ This would mean those above stairs would naturally project their voices to fill larger rooms.
John Lunn is the music composer for the series and i absolutely agree with what he has to say about music and shows, “You need the music to take you through the scenes so the timing is very important. I’m a big advocate of using music to do something that’s not on the screen or dialogue.” This is literally how i feel when i choose the music for my videos, yes i am not able to compose my own music, which i would love to because as good as some songs are you can never get the perfect or right feel for a scene without composing it specifically for the scene itself.
The cost of fashionable entertainment- Consuelo Vanderbilt, the American heiress who married the Duke of Malborough described a shooting weekend in 1896 which was in itself unexceptional aside from the fact that they had the Prince and Princess of Wales staying. At the time the duchess was a young bride of 19 who found the whole experience exhausting, not just because she was in charge of all the pleasures of her guests (there were 30, which meant 100 people were in the house including servants) but because of the munificence of clothes that went with it: The number of changes in costume was itself a waste of precious time. To begin with, even breakfast, which was served at 9.30 in the dining room demanded an elegant costume of velvet or silk. Having seen the men off to their sport the ladies spent the morning round the fire reading the papers and gossiping. We next changed into tweeds to join the guns (men) for luncheon which was served int he high lodge or in a tent. Afterwards, we usually accompanied the guns and watched a drive or two before returning home. An elaborate tea gown was donned for tea, after which we played cards or listened to a Viennese band or to the organ until time to dress for dinner, when again we adorned ourselves in satin, or brocade, with a great display of jewels. All these changes necessitated a tremendous outlay, since one was not supposed to wear the same gown twice. That meant 16 dresses for 4 days.’ This is crazy, i mean dresses are awesome and all, but to be forced to wear one because etiquette said so, is in a modern person’s mind crazy to say the least. But hey, back then they thought it was fine so that’s how it was.
In this era, the House of Worth was the top fashion place to get your clothes, it’s the place to get the latest looks and yeah spend $20 000 and half of that to ship it back.
Note: These are all taken out of the book, some may be paraphrased but overall these do not belong to me, the only part that was in my own words was the review and introduction.