Dowton Abbey, Poldark, and The Crimson Field

Downton AbbeyHi Friends,

Are you missing Downton Abbey? Fans of the popular British TV Series have found some new, exciting programs to enjoy while we wait for the sixth and final (snif-snif) season of Downton.

I’ve enjoyed Poldark and The Crimson Field, both of which are airing on PBS now. I wanted to recommend them to you, and give you a little more information about them so you can decide if you’d like to tune in.


Aidan Turner - PoldarkPoldark

Aidan Turner stars as Ross Poldark, a redcoat who returns to Cornwall, England, after fighting in the American Revolutionary War to discover that his father is dead, his lands are ruined, and his true love is about to marry his first cousin. Also starring is Eleanor Tomlinson as the fiery servant Demelza, a strong-willed miner’s daughter who runs away from home and finds refuge in Poldark’s household.

I’ve enjoyed the family drama, romance, adventure, and learning more about Cornwall, England, in the late 1700s.

DemelzaPoldark is based on a beloved series of novels by Winston Graham. The first, Ross Poldark, was published in 1945; the last, Bella Poldark, appeared in 2002, a year before Graham’s death.

There will be 8 episodes, and 2 – 5  are available free on the PBS websites. The DVD is also for sale there and at other online sites.

The Crimson Field

Crimson Field

In a tented field hospital on the coast of France, a team of doctors, nurses and women volunteers work together to heal the bodies and souls of men wounded in the trenches during World War One. The hospital is a frontier: between the battlefield and homefront, but also between the old rules, hierarchies, class distinctions and a new way of thinking.

Kitty (Oona Chaplin), Rosalie (Marianne Oldham) and Flora (Alice St Clair) arrive as the hospital’s first volunteer nurses and struggle to be accepted by the established medical team. The girls are flung head first into a world for which nothing and nobody could have prepared them, but it is also an opportunity to break free of the constraints and limitations of their lives back home.

Sarah Phelps, one of British television’s most exciting and original writers, tells this story of World War One’s front line medics — their hopes, fears, triumphs and tragedies.

Episodes 1 – 5 are available to watch on the PBS website now.

Lady MaryLady Edith

And now take a look back at a video of the 50 most memorable moments of Downton Abbey.

Have you watched either of these new series? What did you think?

Until next time, Happy Reading and Happy Viewing,


Isabella Beeton ~ The Martha Stewart of Edwardian England

Mrs. Beeton's Book of Household Management“As with the commander of an army, or the leader of any enterprise, so it is with the mistress of a house.”

With those words Isabella Beeton opens the first chapter of Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management, which offered authoritative advice to Victorian and Edwardian Women on a wide range of subjects including childcare, fashion, animal husbandry, medicines, cleanliness, frugality, economy, and the management of servants as well as a great number of recipes.

When I began researching my Edwardian Brides Series I wanted to learn more about the roles of women and how they managed their homes . . . so I consulted Mrs. Beeton.

I thought you might enjoy learning a little about this amazing woman. Isabella Mayson was born in London in 1836, the oldest of four children. Her father, Benjamin Mayson, died when she was young, and her mother remarried a widower with four children of his own. The blended family lived in Epsom, Surrey. With her four half-sisters, she had 21 siblings, a huge family even for the Victorian times. Being the oldest, Isabella honed her abilities in babysitting and general household management, which gave her the experience and confidence to write her famous book when she was in her early twenties.

Isabella BeetonWhen she was nineteen she met Samuel Beeton, a rich and handsome young book and magazine publisher. Samuel and Isabella were married in 1856. Nine months later Isabella gave birth to a baby boy, but he only lived three months. A second son also died when he was young. She later had two more sons.

But during their marriage, Isabella and Sam were a successful and prolific team. Between 1859 and 1861, Isabella wrote articles about cooking and household management for Samuel’s publications, including a monthly column for The Englishwoman’s Domestic Magazine.

In October of 1861, the supplements were collected and published as a single volume. The book’s official and complete title was: The Book of Household Management Comprising information for the Mistress, Housekeeper, Cook, Kitchen-Maid, Butler, Footman, Coachman, Valet, Upper and Under House-Maids, Lady’s-Maid, Maid-of-all-Work, Laundry-Maid, Nurse and Nurse-Maid, Monthly Wet and Sick Nurses, etc. etc.—also Sanitary, Medical, & Legal Memoranda: With a History of the Origin, Properties, and Uses of all Things Connected with Home Life and Comfort, edited by Mrs. Isabella Beeton. Now that’s quite a title!

Mrs. Beetons Book of Household ManagementIt became the most famous English domestic manual ever published, selling more than 60,000 copies in its first year of publication, and almost two million by 1868.

In the preface, Isabella explained why she wrote the book:

“What moved me, in the first instance, to attempt a work like this, was the discomfort and suffering which I had seen brought upon men and women by household mismanagement. I have always thought that there is no more fruitful source of family discontent than a housewife’s badly cooked dinners and untidy ways. Men are now so well served out of doors — at their clubs, well-ordered taverns, and dining-houses — that, in order to compete with the attraction of these places, a mistress must be thoroughly acquainted with the theory and practice of cookery, as well as be perfectly conversant with all the other arts of making and keeping a comfortable home.”

Isabella embraced the traditional roles of wife and mother and saw women as queens of the domestic sphere. She believed men were kings of the public sphere.

Although the book contained hundreds of recipes, most of the recipes were not Isabella’s originals. It was meant to be a collection of useful recipes and information. Mrs. Beeton’s was the first book to list ingredients at the start of the recipe, and to recommend cooking times.

Isabella died at the age of 28 after giving birth to her fourth child in January of 1865. Her husband and subsequent publishers kept the news of Isabella’s death quiet, and continued to publish updates to Household Management, as well as completely new books, under her name.

Would you like to see more interesting photos from life in England in the early 1900’s? I have several Pinterest boards on those topics. I hope you stop by and take a look.

Have you ever heard of Isabelle Beeton before? Or her book?