Could an etiquette war be brewing between Highclere Castle and Downton Abbey?

As if the Crawleys don’t already have enough to worry about having to deal with the untimely death of Matthew at the end series 3, now it seems that when Violet Crawley and Lord Grantham sit down to dine at Downton, their table isn’t set correctly, as the Radio Times‘ Ellie Walker-Arnott found out recently.

Pulling a page right out of Hyacinth Bucket’s playbook, well, actually, her Book of Etiquette for the Socially Less Fortunate and the chapter on candlelight suppers, the Countess Fiona Carnarvon, the real-life lady of Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed, seems to be taking issue with series producers when it comes to Downton Abbey’s silverware and crockery. Aside from the fact that the tables are set wrong, they don’t have a sufficient number of servants to cater to their needs either.

It’s the little details,” she said. “Glasses are back to front and things are set wrong. Setting up the table is an art. Knives, forks and spoons are set from the outside in, beginning with the bread knife and working through each course to cheese… The wine glasses and water tumblers are arranged to the top right of each setting.”

Downton prefers this different arrangement and, after three series, Lady Carnarvon has given up telling them that this ‘different’ arrangement is, in fact, just wrong.

I don’t want to step on people’s toes so I’ve tried a few times to say, ‘do you know you’re setting the table wrong?’” she told the Sunday Times. “I do feel, after all, it’s my dining table and obviously we wouldn’t set it like that. They look at me blankly and I sort of try once more and then I give up and I try not to look because its easier.”

Dining at Downton – Behind the scenes

After all is said and done, Lady Fiona should know what she is talking about, She is the eighth countess of Carnarvon, after all, and lives in the Berkshire stately home with her husband. Her book, Lady Catherine and the real Downton Abbey, is being released in the UK later this week. I’m guessing Carson didn’t write the foreward, what do you think?

In: Drama,Locations

  • azaner

    Carson would never write a “forward” (nor would anyone else). But he might write a foreword.

    • @azaner: You are absolutely correct. That’s what I get for typing at 12mid. Thanks for the catch and thanks for reading Tellyspotting.

  • WilliamCross1

    With the return of Downton to US screens this week ! Hurrah Hurrah!!! Series IV those visiting your cleverly written website ( NB I well remember you bravely commenting on my previous Almina effort!!!) may wish to know that following on from my books on Lady Evelyn Stanhope and Elsie Howard, the two Fourth Countesses of Carnarvon and harnessing the remaining ripples from great Almina Wombwell, the indefatigable Fifth Countesses of Carnarvon, I have now completed a further controversial book on the two Sixth Countesses of Carnarvon. ” Catherine and Tilly: Porchey Carnarvon’s Two Duped Wives. The Tragic Tales of the Sixth Countesses of Carnarvon” . This will play out alongside Highclere’s latest romp on the American refugee Catherine Wendell. My narrative draws on original papers, newspapers and the Wendell papers in Portsmouth Athenaeum, in Maine, USA as well as the good will of members of the Wendell family. It will also be based on interviews and testimony from several people who knew and dearly loved Catherine. The book also includes a long detailed narrative on the life and times of Tilly Losch the great Austrian dancer, and bit part actress, who was Countess of Carnarvon from 1939-1947. William Cross, FSA Scot, South Wales, UK