Visiting Downton’s Duneagle: Inverarary Castle

Hi Friends,

On my recent trip to Scotland I was very excited to visit Inverarary Castle which was featured in the last episode of Downton Abbey, Season 3. The Crawley family traveled to Scotland to visit Duneagle (Inverarary) and spend time with Lady Rose’s family, including Robert’s cousin Hugh (Shrimpy) and Susan, his unhappy wife. While they were there the men went stalking (hunting) and fishing, the women enjoyed walks in the garden and a picnic by the loch, and everyone took part in the ghillie (servants’) ball.

I enjoyed touring the castle with author and friend Cathy Gohlke along with forty-one new friends, all women, who were on the tour led by author Liz Curtis Higgs.

Carrie and Cathy at Inverarary Castle

Carrie and Cathy at Inverarary Castle

Inveraray Castle is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll, the Chief of the Clan Campbell. This impressive castle is located on the shore of Loch Fyne, one of Scotland’s longest sea lochs and has been the Campbell family’s home since the 17th century.

We walked through several beautifully decorated rooms including the Dining Room and Armoury Hall, which were featured on Downton Abbey.

Inverarary Castle Dining Room

 

The Armoury Room Inverarary Castle

The Armoury Room Inverarary Castle

I loved the small circular dish room and the beautiful paintings upstairs in the bedrooms.

Queen Victoria's daughter who married into the Campbel Clan

Princess Louise, Queen Victoria’s daughter, who married John Campbell, the 9th Duke of Argyll.

Azaleas and many other flowers were blooming in the beautiful gardens.

Inverarary Castle Gardens

Do you recognize this view of Inverarary Castle below? Mr. Bates and Anna found Rose hiding from her mother under those arches.

IMG_1441The castle and gardens were wonderful! I can see why the producers of Downton Abbey chose it for their Scottish location. It gave me lots of wonderful story ideas!

Until next time, happy reading!

Carrie

 

Visiting Highclere Castle Gardens

 

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle, the home of the Count and Countess of Carnarvon.

Hi Friends,

One of the highlights of our visit to England was touring Highclere Castle and gardens where Downton Abbey is filmed. What a beautiful spot! There are several sections to the gardens…so come along with me on a tour.

Just a short walk from the house we passed under the arched entrance where birck walls surround that first section of the garden. Climbing roses gave off a lovely fragrance, as did the lavender under the arches.

Walled garden at Highclere Castle

Climbing roses on the walled garden at Highclere Castle.

Highclere-Castle-Garden-brick-Georgian-Wall

Arched wall surrounding Highclere Castle Garden.

Several scenes in The Governess of Highland Hall take place in a garden and greenhouse like the one at Highclere, so I could almost imagine Sarah Ramsey and Clark Dalton stepping through the greenhouse doorway or Andrew or Millie Ramsey running down the garden path.

Carrie and the Greenhouse

The Highclere Greenhouse

roses in the greenhouse

Roses growing in the Highclere Castle greenhouse.

The next area we visited was the lovely all white border garden. I especially enjoyed seeing the large white hydrangeas.

All white garden

The all white border garden at Highclere Castle.

white hydrangea

White hydrangea bushes.

Then we saw the sign for the secret garden and followed the pathway into another delightful garden with curving borders of unique flowers.  Lovely!

The Secret Garden

Entrance to the Secret Garden

Entrance to Highclere’s Secret Garden.

highclere castle garden

The Secret Garden at Highclere.

Roses in Highclere garden

Roses in Highclere Gardens.

Butterfly Bush

Carrie and Scott at Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed

Carrie and Scott at Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed

The Governess of Highland Hall It was a very special day for us, and one we will long remember. Do you enjoy touring gardens? Would you like to visit Highclere? Even if you can’t fly off to England, you can experience life in Edwardian England by reading The Governess of Highland Hall…and next October, The Daughter of Highland Hall!

Until next time…Happy Reading!

Carrie

 

 

 

Costumes of Downton Abbey

Fellow author Terri Gillespie and I at the Costumes of Downton Abbey at Winterthur

Fellow author Terri Gillespie and I at the Costumes of Downton Abbey at Winterthur

Hi Friends,

Last week I visited Winterthur Museum near Wilmington, DE, where they are hosting a wonderful exhibit featuring 40 historically inspired costumes from the hit British TV series, Downton Abbey.

Downton-Edith-Wedding

The exhibit includes Lady Sybil’s controversial harem pants, Mathew Crawley’s cricket whites, and Lady Edith’s ill-fated wedding gown. The downstairs staff is well represented with uniforms for almost all the primary characters, including Mr. Carson, Mrs. Patmore and Thomas Barrow. Not surprisingly, their clothes pale in comparison to the glamor of the ensembles from the upstairs Crawley Family.

Downton Staff Costumes

You’ll see many of Lady Grantham’s and Lady Mary’s beaded gowns, as well as velvet eveningwear from the Dowager Countess and Martha Levinson. The upstairs men are represented with dapper sporting and hunting attire and eveningwear.

DowntonExhibit_2014_3

But the exhibit isn’t just made up of mannequins decked out in period clothing. The curators tell the story behind the costumes in many ways. For Mathew’s dramatic proposal to Mary, her burgundy gown and his tuxedo are displayed in front of the film clip of their engagement.

Downton Costumes

Nearby on the wall is an enlargement of the corresponding dialogue from the script. There is also an explanation from the costume designer about why the show chose to keep her dress from being too ornate (they didn’t want to distract from the scene’s action), while special lighting creates the romantic effect of snow falling all around you.

Downton Costumes

More footage, photos and scripts segments can be found posted throughout the exhibit. You’ll also find interesting explanations about how some of the costumes were made, which ones are actually vintage or incorporate vintage fabrics.

Downton Abbey CostumesThe exhibit also includes descriptions that explain the clothing’s historical context. If you wondered why Lady Mary wore so much lavender this season, the exhibit explains that during the Downton era, it was considered the appropriate color for mourning dress—which is why it was also worn by the Crawley women at Baby Sybil’s christening.

 

Downton Costume ExhibitWinterthur visitors are allowed to take photos of the Downton exhibit garments, which is rare at any museum, and a real treat for fans who want photos of themselves standing near their favorite costumes. Barring a trip to Highclere Castle in England, where the series is filmed, photographing oneself at this elaborately detailed exhibit is probably as close as fans can get to actually entering the world of Downton.

Downton CostumesCostumes of Downton Abbey will be at The Winterthur Museum until January 4th, 2015. Tickets are timed and should be bought in advance, as the show is already selling out on some days. Admission: $20 for adults, $18 for seniors and $5 for children 2 to 11. Visit winterthur.org or call 302-888-4600. Would you like to take a video tour?

Top of bookmarkIf you’re a Downton Abbey fan, I think you’d enjoy The Governess of Highland Hall.

“With its engaging cast of characters, a setting reminiscent of “Downton Abbey” and a storyline that celebrates faith, family and friendship, The Governess of Highland Hall is more than an historical romance.  It’s a book that’s sure to delight Carrie Turansky’s current fans and bring her many more.”

~Amanda Cabot, bestselling author of Christmas Roses and With Autumn’s Return

For more information about The Governess of Highland Hall or any of my books please visit my website.

Which is your favorite Downton costume?

Debutant’s Court Presentation

Debutante Dressed for her Presentation at courtHi Friends,

I’m working hard on Book 2 in the Edwardian Brides Series, The Daughter of Highland Hall. It continues the story of the Ramsey family as they travel to London in 1912 for the season. One of the first events for the heroine, Kate,  is her presentation at court. This rite of passage opened the door for an upper-class young lady to take part in society and hopefully meet her future husband.

Court gown adPreparing for her presentation and first season took months. She had to learn court protocol, how to curtsy, how to dance, and how to carry on a conversation. Some young women traveled to Paris to choose a wardrobe including their presentation gown, while others, like Kate, visited dressmakers in London.

Presentation GownThere were very specific rules for court dress. The presentation gown had to be white, low-cut, and have a long train. They had to wear an ostrich feathered headdress and veil. Three feathers signaled she was a married woman, and two feathers were worn by single woman. Most debutantes also carried a bouquet of flowers. She looked very much like a bride, and some young women refashioned their presentation gowns and wore them on their wedding day.

After all that practice and expense, the young woman only spent a few minutes in the throne room. But being presented signified she was ready to take part in the season and become a member of London society.

Lady CoraDowton Abbey fans will learn more about  court presentations next month in the final episode of season four when Lady Rose is presented to King George. Each girl needed a sponsor, so Lady Cora takes on the roll for Rose. That episode is set ten years after The Daughter of Highland Hall, so it’s a bit more relaxed, but still very similar and fun to watch!

Lady Rose

 

 

 

I’ve really enjoyed researching court presentations, and I especially love the beautiful gowns!

Would you like to see more photos of presentation gowns and the characters in The Daughter of Highland Hall? Take a look at my Pinterest board:

http://www.pinterest.com/carrieturansky/daughter-of-highland-hall/

Have you entered the Downton Abbey Finale Viewing Party Giveaway? You can see the prizes and enter by following this link:

http://carrieturansky.com/index.php/viewingparty/

What do you think? Would you like to wear a gown like the ones pictured here?

Christmas in Edwardian Times

A maid serves Flaming Christmas Plum Pudding

A maid serves Flaming Christmas Plum Pudding

Hi Friends,

Many of the Christmas traditions enjoyed by the English during the Edwardian era were similar to those we enjoy in the US today, but some are quite different. I loved learning more about Edwardian Christmas traditions as I did research for my novel, The Governess of Highland Hall, which is set in the fall and winter of 1911- 1912.

Preparations for the Christmas holiday began the last Sunday before Advent, which was called Stir Up Sunday. A rich plum pudding batter was prepared, using some ingredients that sound a little odd to an American, including beef suet and brandy. But I suppose you have to taste it to appreciate it. Each member of the family would take a turn stirring the pudding batter and add a good-luck coin that would be discovered on Christmas day when the pudding was served. It was then steamed for six hours and stored over a month for the flavors to ripen. On Christmas day it is steamed again for an hour and a half, then more brandy was added and it was served flaming. The flames were originally meant to represent Christ’s passion.

Edwardian Christmas Other traditional food served on Christmas included roasted nuts, minced pies, dates, figs, chocolate, boar’s head, sheep’s tongue, roast pork, goose, or turkey. The birds would be stuffed with chestnuts, pork, and apple stuffing, and sprinkled with fat and salt, then served with apple, gooseberry, and bread sauces. Besides plum pudding and fruitcake, a rolled Christmas cake called Buche de Noel was often served for dessert.

The Edwardians decorated their homes with holly, ivy, yew, laurel, mistletoe, paper chains, ribbons and candles. But the Christmas tree was not set up until Christmas Eve. It was decorated with paper and glass ornaments as well as toys, sweets, mistletoe, candles, and ribbons. Some families had table-top-size trees, while many had larger, floor-standing trees.

Father ChristmasFather Christmas had been a figure in English history since medieval times. He represents the Christmas spirit of goodwill, but he did not bring gifts. He came from Odin and wore a blue-hooded cloak and white beard, and had an evergreen wreath around his head. St Nicholas, the Christian saint, visited Dutch children on Christmas Eve and left toys and candy in their straw-filled clogs. If the children were bad a birch rod would be left instead of sweets. By Edwardian times, Father Christmas and St. Nicholas had merged together, and Father Christmas was pictured in a red suit and brought gifts to good children who hung up their stockings on Christmas Eve.

Christmas cards were very popular during the Edwardian period. Since postage rates were so inexpensive, many Christmas cards were sent and received by friends and family.

ice skating Edwardian Christmas CardElectricity had become more common during the Edwardian era. In 1912 Princess Louise opened the first modern Christmas illuminations, with “festoons of garland lamps,” using 10,000 light bulbs.

Christmas Day would have started with the family attending a church service, although some families attended on Christmas Eve. Before dinner was served at mid-day, they pulled open paper Christmas crackers and put on paper hats. After dinner, they enjoyed playing games and gathering around the piano to sing carols. Some of the favorites were ‘Good King Wenceslas’, ‘It Came Upon the Midnight Clear’, ‘God Rest Ye Merry Gentleman’, and ‘Once in Royal David’s City’. This last carol had Victorian moral for young: ‘Christian children all must be mild, obedient, and good as He’. Wealthy families might have had gramophone to play their favorite Christmas music.

Girl in the snowGifts for adults included pens and stationery sets, manicure & grooming kits and for the wealthy, driving clothing and caps, with Burberry being the leading brand.

For boys, toy soldiers were very popular, and for girls, dolls and tea sets. For younger children, wooden animals and wooden alphabet & number blocks. Some of these would have been bought in department stores, which had emerged in the late 1860s, and were a mainstay of Christmas shopping rituals by the Edwardian period.

The day after Christmas, Boxing Day was celebrated, and gifts were given to those in need. It was also a day of sports and outdoor entertainments, such as ice skating and hunting. But the cinema was becoming more popular, and movies made especially for Christmas, such as an early adaptation of Dickens’ Christmas Carol were shown and enjoyed by many.

Do you think you’d enjoy Christmas in Edwardian England? Which Christmas tradition is your favorite?