Hobbies

30 Surprising Facts You Didn't Know About Downton Abbey

Elizabeth McGovern and Hugh Bonneville had been "married" before Downton.
IMAGE PBS
Comments

Downton Abbey fans are still mourning the loss of the Crawley family and anxiously awaiting the official Downton movie, but secrets from the show's run are still being revealed. Here are 30 facts about the beloved series that will surprise even the most passionate Downton fans.

THE SERIES WAS INSPIRED BY POPULAR AMERICAN SHOWS.


“I was constantly thinking in terms of those American structures. I had liked E.R. There was something called Chicago Hope that I liked very much, and Thirtysomething, with all those stories going at once," series creator Julian Fellowes said in Rebbeca Eaton’s memoir, Making Masterpiece: 25 Years Behind the Scenes at Masterpiece Theatre and Mystery! on PBS.

A REAL FAMILY LIVES IN THE CASTLE THE SHOW WAS FILMED AT.


It's called Highclere Castle and it's been occupied by the Carnavon family since 1679. You can tour it in the summer for about $30 and it's also available for weddings and private events.

DOWNTOWN ABBEY ISN'T THE ONLY PRODUCTION TO FILM AT HIGHCLERE CASTLE.


Others include Eyes Wide Shut, King Ralph, and Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves.

GILLIAN ANDERSON TURNED DOWN A ROLE ON THE SERIES.


She was approached to play Cora Crawley, who was ultimately portrayed by Elizabeth McGovern.

THE SERVANT'S QUARTERS SCENES WERE FILMED ON A SOUNDSTAGE.


The quarters at Highclere Castle weren't in good enough condition to film in, so the kitchen and servant's bedroom scenes were filmed in a London studio.

LAURA CARMICHAEL WAS WORKING IN A DOCTOR'S OFFICE WHEN SHE GOT THE PART.


She was working as a receptionist when she read for Edith.

AND SHE ALMOST TURNED DOWN THE ROLE OF LADY EDITH.


She had just been offered the role of Viola in a touring production of Shakespeare's Twelfth Night, and initially thought the role on Downton would be a small one.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

"A few days later my agent said, 'You have an audition for a period drama.' I thought it was going to be a 'Yes, milord,' a half-day's filming, one line maybe. But it would be good to have on your CV that you'd done telly. And I thought, 'I'm going to have to turn down this dream Shakespeare for this TV job. What a disaster!' And it was Downton. So I went and read and realized it was for a lead part. And I don't know how it happened," she said.

ELIZABETH MCGOVERN AND HUGH BONNEVILLE HAD BEEN "MARRIED" BEFORE DOWNTON.


The actors also played spouses on a short-lived BBC sitcom called Freezing.

THERE WAS ONLY ONE BEDROOM SET.


Cora, Mary, and Edith all had the same bedrooms in real life—it was just redecorated depending on what room it needed to be. And it was redecorated quite often, apparently.

"By the end of the season it's quite thick with paint and wallpaper," Donal Woods, production designer, told PBS. "If you're very smart, you'll look out the window and it's always the same view."

JESSICA BROWN FINDLAY, WHO PLAYED LADY SYBIL, ALMOST WASN'T AN ACTRESS.


"Until I was 18, ballet was my life I loved it; I even danced at the Royal Opera House with the Kirov," she explained. "Then I injured my ankle, had three operations on it, and the last one went wrong. I was told I would never dance again."

EACH EPISODE COST MORE THAN A MILLION EUROS.


In her book, The World of Downton Abbey, Jessica Fellowes revealed just how pricey the show was to produce.

JULIAN FELLOWES NAMED A CHARACTER AFTER A RELATIVE.


Mary’s son is named after Julian Fellowes' niece's baby, George. "His birth is commemorated on Downton," Fellowes explained to PBS.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

THE COSTUMES SMELLED TERRIBLE.


"We do stink, as they don’t wash our costumes," Sophie McShera, who played cook’s assistant Daisy, explained to the Daily Mail. "They have these weird patches, which are sewn into the armpits and which they wash separately."

JIM CARTER IS AN AMATEUR MAGICIAN.


The actor, who played butler Mr. Carson, practices magic in his free time.

THE FOOD YOU SAW ON SCREEN WAS REAL.


"Often the food will be on the table and we’re not actually going to eat it,” London-based food stylist Lisa Heathcote said. "If you have fake food, it’s going to look like fake food."

MAGGIE SMITH WOULDN'T WATCH THE SHOW WHILE IT WAS ON.


"It’s frustrating. I always see things that I would like to do differently and think, ‘Oh, why in the name of God did I do that?'” she explained in an interview with 60 Minutes.

QUEEN ELIZABETH II WAS A BIG FAN.


The Queen watched the show regularly and liked to watch for historical inaccuracies.

THE COLLARS OF THE MEN'S SHIRTS WERE UNCOMFORTABLE.


"Stiff collars are a pain the neck, quite literally," Hugh Bonneville explained in The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era. "But they affect your bearing and make you stand in the right way."

ELIZABETH MCGOVERN IS IN A BAND.


It's called Sadie & The Hotheads and costar Michelle Dockery sometimes joins her for gigs.

THERE ARE REAL ANTIQUES IN THE CASTLE.


The mahogany desk and chair in the Music Room were once Napoleon's.

DAN STEVENS WAS A JUDGE FOR THE MAN BOOKER PRIZE.


He made time to read 146 books while on the Downton Abbey set.

HE'S ALSO THE EDITOR OF AN ONLINE MAGAZINE.


Stevens is the Editor at Large for The Junket.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

THE HEIGHT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN MATT MILNE AND LUCILLE SHARP WAS HUGE.


Milne is 6'4, so Sharp had to stand on a box to be in frame with him, according to The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era.

MICHELLE DOCKERY CAN SING.


The actress is also an amazing jazz singer.

LILY JAMES AND SOPHIE MCSHERA WORKED TOGETHER ON ANOTHER PROJECT.


The Downton Abbey costars also worked together on Disney's live-action Cinderella in 2015.

ROB-JAMES COLLIER WAS INSPIRED TO BECOME AN ACTOR AFTER WATCHING THE OFFICE.


“It was my office,” he said. “I thought, I can’t do this for the rest of my life, surely?” He found an acting class in the yellow pages and started working to become an actor at night after his day job.

THAT DEVASTATING CAR CRASH COULD HAVE TAKEN TWO CHARACTERS FROM US.


Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes says that if he'd known further in advance that Dan Stevens planned to leave the show, he wouldn't have died alone in that car crash. "I probably would have killed [Matthew and Sybil] together in a car crash," he told RadioTimes.com.

BRENDAN COYLE CHANGED HIS NAME.


The actor was born David Coyle.

IT'S BEEN COMPARED TO BREAKING BAD.


Hugh Bonneville once joked that, "It’s Breaking Bad with tea instead of meth."

CORA WASN'T CREATED TO APPEAL TO AMERICANS.


“We weren’t thinking in those terms about foreign sales,” Julian Fellowes told the Independent. “The advantage for me of having the American wife was it gave me a central character who was not dyed in the wool of the upper middle class upbringing, so you could have one of the principal characters who didn’t take all that stuff for granted, and questioned it, as Cora did. She was not consciously written for America. The fact that we would have a central character for American sales was much more clever than we were really.”

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

From: Harper's BAZAAR US

This story originally appeared on Townandcountrymag.com.
* Minor edits have been made by the Townandcountry.ph editors.

Comments
View More Articles About:
About The Author
Kayleigh Roberts
View Other Articles From Kayleigh Roberts
Comments
Latest Stories
 
Share
How one woman is taking on an rampant problem of counterfeit wines.
 
Share
"My character wasn’t written to be Filipino-American, they actually changed her to give me this role," says Danielle Lyn.
 
Share
Chris Do, along with other expert creatives, will take part in CITEM’s CREATE Philippines.
 
Share
The Duke was there to celebrate the organization's 30th anniversary.
 
Share
Jewelry crimes might be rising but gemologists aren't worried.
 
Share
"My thoughts and prayers are with all those affected by these tragedies," she wrote to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Read the full statement here.
 
Share
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel star Marin Hinkle was a vision in violet.
 
Share
Jessica Mulroney and Serena Williams are backing her charity cookbook.
Load More Articles
CONNECT WITH US