I confess I have yet to watch “Downton Abbey,” but did see every season of “Doc Martin”, which was filmed in a sleepy Cornish village. (There’s just something about those Brits.) The Jan. 3 big spread on trying to achieve the “Downton Look” was interesting — lovely color photos depicting what a typical “Old English” dining table might look like — and encouraged us to buy “brands that seek to replicate the look in North America,” soon available at the likes of Target, et al.
I would like to offer an alternative source for the stoneware, kerosene lamps, linens, tea kettles and pots, stemware, furniture large and small, old books, worn rugs, period clothing and jewelry, and almost anything else one might desire as they seek to reproduce the full spectrum (opulent to stark) of “The Downton Look”. Why replicate with knock-offs when you can find the real thing at our local antique stores? Instead of paying too much for cheap overseas items that will end up at a yard sale or in a landfill, why not purchase the real thing, complete with bragging rights for authenticity, right here in our hometowns?
The Home and Garden photos of the “Downton-esque tabletop” look just like many displays in our antique shops! As the hostess of your “Season 3” dinner soiree, wouldn’t you be proud to tell your guests their Beef Wellington is being served on a late 1800s Meakin (England) ironstone platter, rather than “I got that at Target”? Allow your delighted guests to sip their water or wine from an antique goblet and dab their lips with a vintage damask napkin — for the scullery maid in the kitchen perhaps a pewter mug and homespun. In this wacky world of cheap knock-offs and fake “friends,” invest in something of value — something that might well have been on the dining table in a Downton Abbey of old.