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Downton Abbey: Historical Notes and Context, Quibbles and Anachronisms


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#151

Sunshine55

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Posted Feb 27, 2014 @ 10:54 AM

Thanks Milz, that's all quite complicated, but that gives me a better idea, and when I have more time, I'm going to read it more thoroughly. 


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#152

JudyObscure

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Posted Feb 28, 2014 @ 10:33 AM

Didn't we fight a war so we wouldn't have to keep all that straight? ;)
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#153

Milz

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Posted Feb 28, 2014 @ 11:00 AM

The American "upper class" accent was around in the late 19th to mid-20th century (think: Katharine Hepburn, Edward Everett Horton,  Franklin Roosevelt, Thurston Howell III).  Granted Martha probably won't have one (unless she affected one to make her look more upper class), but if Harold were educated at an Ivy League, he should probably  have the accent. As it was, he sounded like he grew up around Al Capone, Meyer Lanksy and Lucky Luciano.


Edited by Milz, Feb 28, 2014 @ 11:03 AM.

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#154

PRgal

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Posted Feb 28, 2014 @ 2:33 PM

The American "upper class" accent was around in the late 19th to mid-20th century (think: Katharine Hepburn, Edward Everett Horton,  Franklin Roosevelt, Thurston Howell III).  Granted Martha probably won't have one (unless she affected one to make her look more upper class), but if Harold were educated at an Ivy League, he should probably  have the accent. As it was, he sounded like he grew up around Al Capone, Meyer Lanksy and Lucky Luciano.

 

Isn't that accent also geographical?  The Levinsons are from the midwest, right?


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#155

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Posted Feb 28, 2014 @ 7:07 PM

What you're talking about is the 'Groton' accent. It was a sort of mid-Atlantic (halfway between American and British) accent used at prep schools like...Groton. Not everyone had it, though. The Kennedy boys went to Milton and Harvard, but kept their South Boston accents.

 

I was thinking about Moseley and gloves today. Back in the first season, Mrs Crawley misdiagnosed him with something-or-other, but the Dowager explained that it was a reaction to a weed in his father's garden. Now, of course he didn't want to wear gloves while butler-ing, but wouldn't he have put them on while gardening, to keep his hands perfect for his real job?


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#156

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Posted Mar 3, 2014 @ 11:55 PM

Did anyone but me have an 'oh God no!' moment in the second-to-last episode of Season 4, when Rose is boating with Jack and says, 'Can't we just be in the moment?" Isn't 'be in the moment' very 21st-century? 


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#157

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Posted Mar 4, 2014 @ 12:16 AM

That sounds downright 21st century to me, but Ngrams says it's been around for centuries. Of course, more popular now than earlier, and I bet 2010 would be off the charts.

 

https://books.google... the moment;,c0


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#158

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Posted Mar 4, 2014 @ 11:17 PM

When Cora was telling the others about King George and Queen Mary, Cora says, "She was very Queen Mary-like." I missed that the first time around, but it bothered me on the second. 


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#159

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Posted Mar 5, 2014 @ 1:58 PM

There's been some discussion in an episode thread about why Matthew, and now George, don't get a title. I believe the problem is simply that although they have each been the heir-apparent, they haven't been the heir. When Cora had her pregnancy, Matthew was potentially upstaged. Even now, Cora could die, and a potential second wife could produce heirs. So, once Robert shuffles off, then George gets to be the Earl, and his sons can be Viscounts, or Honerables, or whatever. If he produces girls, and some long-lost (Canadian!) cousin is discovered, that man would not get an instant title.

 

That's my impression, anyhow. Maybe it's actually more complicated, but I sure hope not.


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#160

pasandola

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Posted Mar 6, 2014 @ 5:33 AM

That is basically correct. If the Earl had a sons, the eldest would be Viscount Downtown, the younger sons would be 'Honorable'. However, since he doesn't, the Viscount title stays with the Earl and George remains just George until he inherits.
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#161

PRgal

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Posted Mar 6, 2014 @ 8:31 AM

What happens if Robert dies in the next few years?  Little George would still be a child.  What happens when the heir is still a minor?


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#162

Milz

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Posted Mar 6, 2014 @ 9:36 AM

If Robert dies, George will become Earl. Mary, being his mother, or a guardian/custodian like a lawyer will be in control of the estate until George reaches the age of majority and can legally assume all the responsibilities of the estate.


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#163

CrepePaper

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Posted Mar 6, 2014 @ 2:59 PM

Did the Bryan't "adopt" Charlie? would they need to seeing as he was family?

 

I have read of families with no children taking in children, giving them their name and inheritance. This seemed to be handled by lawyers, as far as name/inheritance etc goes, but not considered adoption the way we know of it today.

 

In the 70's there was a series called "Flambards" which takes place in England at precisely the same time period as Downton and indeed, though the estate is not nearly the size or grandness of Downton, there are very similar situations addressed. A failing estate, marrying for money to shore it up, the war and the changes it brought about, "adopting" an illigitamate child, scandalized servants, and trying to make the estate pay for itself post war. Interesting to see both the similarities and differences. From my research, "Flambards" was very accurate historically.

 

Rather like little Charlie, a boy is "adopted" by family away from the mother who bore him out of wedlock. She is paid what amounts to a lot of money for her, to give the child up, with the promise that he will have all the advantages.

 

In Edith's case, the situation is inverted. A child who is due all the priveledges is given to a poorer family. Edith will pay money so her child will have less priveledge, but perhaps, given the scandal...still better than she would have done had her mother kept her and been cast off.

 

It seems it would have been an easy thing for Edith to go to the USA and stay with her maternal grandmother, claiming the child's father had passed away. Cora's mother would surely take her in. Of course that would take Edith from the show and I don't want that, but it seems a happy solution. Edith would do well in the States I think...but then again...her child would be raised American. Given that her mother is an American, would she feel better about that than having her child raised Swiss?

 

Other than Violet, it is unclear to me how the rest of the family feels about America and Americans in general. Carson's face told us how HE feels. lol.


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#164

ladongas

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Posted Mar 6, 2014 @ 6:28 PM

Here's a (sort of) historical note:  

Actress Tracy Reed, granddaughter of Freda Dudley Ward, was first married to actor Edward Fox (brother of James Fox, who portrays Lord Aysgarth).

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#165

caia1970

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Posted Mar 6, 2014 @ 8:13 PM

 

I believe the problem is simply that although they have each been the heir-apparent, they haven't been the heir.

It's actually 'heir presumptive'.  They are 'presumed' to be the heir unless Robert has a son, who would then be the heir apparent.


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#166

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Posted Mar 6, 2014 @ 10:37 PM

Oh, right. Presumptive. Thanks! I was just going along without looking any of it up. But the idea is that Matthew or George could be upstaged by any late arriving sons of Robert, but that if Matthew had lived, and became the lord, George couldn't be upstaged.

 

Nice to know that if George had had younger brothers, they'd have been 'Honorables'. (All of them, I assume?)


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#167

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Posted Mar 7, 2014 @ 12:34 AM

Nice to know that if George had had younger brothers, they'd have been 'Honorables'. (All of them, I assume?)

 

Yep, as was Diana Spencer (and her siblings) in the years before her father, Viscount Althorp, became Earl Spencer: whereupon when she became Lady Diana and her younger brother Charles the Viscount.


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#168

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Posted Mar 7, 2014 @ 8:47 AM

I always thought it was odd that an earl's younger sons are all "Honourables" but his daughters are all "Ladys."  


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#169

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Posted Mar 8, 2014 @ 9:23 AM

All but the heir. Stiff public distinction for the males, but then, the younger sons could pursue their fortunes in the world, throughout their lives. The daughters were presumed to have only their families and dowries to barter, in marriage: ideally only once, and when they were still quite young. The girls' stylings are lifelong, superseded by another gained in marriage only if it is higher. Lady Edith might become Lady Upyourzs (Countess, Marchioness or Duchess of Upyourz), while even as Mrs. Branson, Lady Sybil would have been styled Lady Sybil throughout her life.  

 

 


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#170

Milz

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Posted Mar 10, 2014 @ 9:49 AM

If Lady Edith marries Sir John Eff-Hugh, Bart., would she be addressed as Lady Eff-Hugh, or Lady Edith Eff-Hugh?


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#171

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Posted Mar 10, 2014 @ 12:05 PM

Could be wrong, but I think she gets to be Lady Edith, because that shows she was born a Lady, and ranks higher than Lady Eff-Hugh. Of course, she'd be both. The Dowager is Lady Crawley, which I suppose means that she married up, and acquired her title, just as Cora did.

 

Maybe they'd say Lady Edith Eff-Hugh to show that she's doubly titled? That might get cumbersome.


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#172

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Posted Mar 10, 2014 @ 2:55 PM

She'd be Lady Eff-Hugh since she doesn't hold a title in her own right. 

 

Edit:

Actually she can use either.  From Debrett's :

If she marries a courtesy peer, and the precedence she derives from this is lower than that she derives from her father, she has the option of:
(a) adopting the usual style of the wife of a courtesy peer, eg Countess of Twickenham, or

(b) continuing her own style followed by the courtesy title, eg Lady Mary Twickenham.


Edited by caia1970, Mar 10, 2014 @ 3:07 PM.

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#173

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Posted Mar 10, 2014 @ 4:38 PM

Well, this one has been two seasons in the researching for me, but wanted to share:  In season two, Mary and Matthew are in Downton in its role as a convalescent home, and they share a moment of gossip about their mothers butting heads over who was in control of Downton.  Mary gestures "shush" over her lips while saying "no names, no pack drill."  I never could figure that one out.

 

I'm currently reading Over The Top, a contemporaneous account of life as a WWI soldier as written by a Yank who served with the British army.  He shares that "pack drill" is a punishment in which a soldier is required to complete a couple of hours of military drills with a full, heavy pack.  I am assuming, then, that Mary is using a phrase that is known to mean "no talking behind someone's back, and therefore no consequences."


Edited by Boton, Mar 10, 2014 @ 4:39 PM.

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#174

jehan

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Posted Mar 14, 2014 @ 12:03 AM

She'd be Lady Eff-Hugh since she doesn't hold a title in her own right. 
 
Edit:
Actually she can use either.  From Debrett's :
Quote

If she marries a courtesy peer, and the precedence she derives from this is lower than that she derives from her father, she has the option of:
(a) adopting the usual style of the wife of a courtesy peer, eg Countess of Twickenham, or

(b) continuing her own style followed by the courtesy title, eg Lady Mary Twickenham.



Actually, no she wouldn't be- she'd still be Lady Edith. Knights and Baronets (Both "Sirs")- the latter is hereditary, the former is not- are not peers. They both rank lower than Earl's daughters, so Edith would keep her higher title.

The only time she would switch to a lower title would be if she married a Baron (who are peers). She would take his title- if he were John Snobby, Lord Snobton, she would become Lady Snobton. Barons (always known as Lord Title) are the lowest in the peerage and rank below earls and Viscounts. If she married into any other rank of the peerage (Viscount, Earl, Marquis or Duke) she would take his title, but her rank would either be the same or higher than her old status.
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#175

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Posted Mar 14, 2014 @ 8:00 AM

 

Actually, no she wouldn't be- she'd still be Lady Edith. Knights and Baronets (Both "Sirs")- the latter is hereditary, the former is not- are not peers. They both rank lower than Earl's daughters, so Edith would keep her higher title.

 

Okay so let's say Edith married Sir John Eff-Hugh, bart. They go to a ball. They are introduced as "Sir John and Lady Edith Eff-Hugh"? Dang, no wonder Evelyn Waugh made a comment about looking people up in Debrett's.......


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#176

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Posted Mar 14, 2014 @ 12:44 PM

Didn't the Dowager Countess say something along the lines of 'don't look for sense in the English aristocracy', when Tom was confused about using 'Duchess' vs 'your grace'?


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#177

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Posted Mar 14, 2014 @ 2:53 PM

Tom said: "There's no logic in it" and she said: ""If I were to search for logic, I should not look for it among the English upper class."


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#178

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Posted Mar 30, 2014 @ 11:48 AM

I'll just jump in here since recently joined.  Re the Jewishness of Cora's family not being mentioned:  I just thought that, if it had been an issue at all, it would have been discussed or hinted at or talked around at the time of her and Robert's marriage.  By the time of Downton S1 they would all have gotten over it unless some specific incident occurred to bring it up again.


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