While we were watching Downton at the Real Downton…

It was a wild and stormy night outside and family and friends were all gathered together around a lovely fire for a Christmas evening out of the ordinary….

We were going to watch “Downton” while sitting in the “Real Downton”, whilst we hoped many other viewers would be enjoying watching our home in their home. It is still a little odd.

The first problem on the evening of Christmas day was that we were running late. We have a huge Christmas lunch with all the staff helping us and the long table filled with friends and chatter. On the evening of Christmas Day, however, we help ourselves to a buffet in the Dining Room whilst the staff have disappeared to be with their own families. Inevitably there are quite a few of us so it is quite an operation. We form chains to collect dishes and then further team work comes into play to help clear and wash up. Finally we try to set the breakfast, a process at best described as interesting.

My husband’s washing up was not completely diligent, in fact Diana our Housekeeper rejected quite a few plates the following morning when she kept finding the remains of soup gluing them together.  The breakfast settings were fairly random, and there might be chance of eating either for cereal or eggs and bacon but not both at any place.


Too many men (Tom and Alexander!) stood to discuss it rather than do….but everyone had a “Quality Street” chocolate for their effort (the Charbonell et Walker were long gone)… we were late but it didn’t matter as Downton had been recorded. Except that it hadn’t, nor could we at first find the right channel and then the remote control had been chewed by a dog, either Alfie or Scooby. So we started late and never went backwards but the odd dram of whisky, and more unneeded chocolates were passed continuously around.


We all thoroughly enjoyed it, and nobody fell asleep, there was so much going on. The Secret Garden looked charming where Dame Maggie and Penelope Wilton were taking tea, a more peaceful interlude amongst the high drama within the Castle/Abbey.

By breakfast the next morning miraculously the Dining Room table looked perfect.