Downton Abbey Gala Redux: Season 5

When I registered online for the 5th season premiere of Downton Abbey, there were fifty-nine (yes, 59!) salutations to choose from on the drop-down menu. These included Father, Monsignor, Cantor, Rabbi, Lieutenant Commander, Dean, Major, Mayor, and the humbler Mr. or Ms. I didn’t see “Lady”! Other designations included Sister and Professor. At different stages of life I have been both: Sister Longenecker and then Professor Beaman.

Downton Abbey is a cross-section of the social strata of post-Victorian England, an assemblage of characters from both upstairs and downstairs. Here it is reflected in the postures and apparel of cast members in the series: maids in aprons, ladies in plumed hats, men hatless or in fedoras.


Last year when our PBS station invited us to a gala celebration for Season 4, we stepped right into the show along with other party goers wearing period costumes and cast members appearing as life-size cutouts for picture taking. You can see it here.

This year we were greeted at the door with a trivia card. Among the questions was this: Lady Violet thinks her new gardener, Pegg, has stolen what item for her home? The choices are knife, cane, bell, or nutcracker. I don’t remember, do you?

With souvenir tea bag and an invitation to join in the #BIGsip with #DowntonPBS
With souvenir tea bag and an invitation to join in the #BIGsip with #DowntonPBS

First, we met a maid from downstairs with duster in hand . . .


A clansman from across the border, clad in plaid . . .


Middle-class Americans making a vain attempt to mingle with the British aristocracy . . .

Downton Abbey_adjust_300 (2)

Sister Janice and I pose before the entire cast with headgear rivaling the goofiness of Princesses Beatrix and Eugenie at the wedding of Will and Kate:


And finally, the genteel Jennifer Pastore, proudly garbed in a more-than-100-year-old dress worn by her great grandmother, Elizabeth Vann, the first woman editor of a newspaper in Florida (Madison, FL). A flawless little black dress – a perfect fit!


And then, the climax of the evening: the screening of episode 1, season 5, which begins in 1924 – the radio a hot, new technology.

We were on the edge of our seats as each scene unfolded, asking, What happened to Edith’s child? Where is the fire? What about Anna?

And then of course, scenes with seeds for future episodes:

  • Who outwits the wily Thomas?
  • Who wears a wedding gown?
  • Does Mary have a new love interest?
  • What is Carson up to?

Throughout the movie, there were more zingers than usual from the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet: “There’s nothing more simple than avoiding people you don’t like!”


Do you think Dowager Countess Violet is right in either quote? Why or why not?

Care to comment about social class in the show? Or in present-day society?

P.S. Despite rumors to the countrary, the station manager announced unequivocally that there will be a Season 6!

Coming next: Purple Passages and Tiny Tim


31 thoughts on “Downton Abbey Gala Redux: Season 5

  1. Despite being English the Downton Abbey craze has passed me by. This is partly because I watch very little TV and also I guess because the English are less interested in themselves than our friends in the USA. It sounds like a fun evening though.


    1. I guess you have enough “English” in England. According to statistics, we Americans cannot get enough of it. You can be sure devotees all across the land will throw Downey Abbey parties when the series airs again January 4. Thanks for being the first responder today, Marie.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I had forgotten you did this last year. It sounds like a fun event. Thank you for not giving away any spoilers. I don’t remember either what Pegg allegedly stole, but I think it was something small–maybe the knife that she used for her mail? I’m looking forward to the new season. I know you’ll be watching Call the Midwife, too. 🙂


    1. Call the Midwife doesn’t feature all the fabulous costumes of Downton, but the characters and plot-lines are equally engaging in my book. Maybe another reader will answer the “Pegg” question. Ha!


  3. Marian — You guys certainly know how to have fun, and I always enjoy looking at your photographs. I don’t know a lot about Downton Abbey, but I do know that I will never ration my excitement!


  4. Well you all certainly didn’t ration your excitement. You look beautiful and authentic in your period costumes. It hasn’t occurred to me to get so dressed up at such an event, but why not? Did you have the dresses made?


    1. Jan got her gorgeous dress at a Sweet-Repeats-type shop, and Cliff bought mine a long, long time ago as a surprise when we was on the road. At the time I thought it was gaudy and “old lady” looking, but now it has found a niche in my wardrobe. I wore it last year too, and I don’t think any of the guests noticed – ha!


  5. Marian … My Mom might have agreed with Violet Crawley’s mantra to “ration one’s excitement.” 😉 I rarely watch TV, so I have not seen this show. But the party looks like fun. I went to a Murder Mystery Dinner once and enjoyed taking part in the “play.” 😉


  6. We have one of these parties here in Harrisonburg. I’ll have to consult with my daughter Kate to see what kind of outfit I might be able to dig up. Looks like fun.

    I don’t agree with most of the dowager’s comments when I think about them, but I enjoy the laughter they evoke!


  7. We love Downton Abbey. We arrived in Spain just to see the last episode of season 5. Now I will need to catch the rest of the season. There will also be a Christmas special which we pan to take. Maggie Smith steals the show. The dowager´s ideas are dated of course but they are ever so funny.


  8. I had no idea that you were into Downton in your lovely country . When it first came on I hated it because it was so wooden, I called it ‘Crossroads’ in period costume ( I don’t know if you have ever heard of Crossroads it was a’ BAD’ soap in the 70s ). Now I quite like it and realize it’s charm is the woodenness . I love Violet Crawley ..she gets away with murder .


    1. No, I have not heard of Crossroads, so thank you for the mention. Violet gets away with so much because she is the dowager countess and because the other characters understand her “wooden” (?) wit. Anyway, that’s my take on it! Thanks for the comment.


  9. Looks like fabulous fun Marian. The costumes are lovely and you look great in purple! I never watched this series but hear much rave about it. Just a busy few years where I couldn’t commit myself to getting involved with an addicting series. 🙂


  10. Marian, I never got hooked on this series, mostly because I rarely watch TV. However,you certainly have enticed me to start watching it! It sounds like a microcosm of our society where it takes all kinds to make the world go ’round. Loved the photos. What fun! Thanks for sharing.


    1. Cliff and I are British drama junkies, I guess. TV is not my cup of tea either, but I make exception to this show. With your medical background, I believe you’d also like the PBS series Call the Midwife, based on the journals of a nurse in 1950s London. Thanks for your kind comment today, Kathy.


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