Breakfast at Downton Abbey, Part II

ccc4c39e557891689e7e10490a71db75The country house breakfast consisted of “honest” plain food not fancy sauced food, understood as French.  The ingredients were from the walled garden, home farm, and local estate.  Because there were often guests,  the breakfast table was an opportunity for the gentry to display the wealth of their estates in the quality of the meats, vegetables and ingredients produced on the surrounding lands.

Breakfasts were unhurried, leisurely affairs with plenty of silver and glassware on show to impress the host’s guests.   Newspapers were available for the family and guests to catch up on the day’s news. Indeed, it is still socially acceptable today to read newspapers at the breakfast table.

101_0468The menu itself consisted of game (in season), fish, fresh breads, devilled kidneys,  kippers, potted shrimp and crab, fish pies, pickled meat dishes from brisket and goose to ox  and thrush, apple and strawberry fools, and tea, and coffee.  In the era of Downton Abbey,  Indian-style dishes, such as pilau, kedgeree (rice, smoked fish and eggs) and curried lobster were also popular.   Eggs and bacon were also a breakfast staple;  bacon was first cured in the 18th century.

images-49Note that the country house breakfast had little to do with what is today regarded as the “English breakfast:”   bacon, sausage, fried egg, baked beans, and toast.

Please join the Long Beach Camerata Singers for our upcoming concert, “The Music of Downton Abbey,” on October 2 at 4:30pm.  Performed at the Beverly O’Neill Theater in Long Beach, California, your ticket price includes “Cream Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room in Bixby Knolls to enhance your concert experience!  Click Here to purchase tickets.DA Card

If you purchase a season subscription (3 concerts or more) you will be treated to the “Lady Violet Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room.  Click Here to purchase subscriptions.

Take a cooking class and learn how to make your own Afternoon Tea with ChefTech Cooking School!  Click Here for more information and to register for the class on Saturday, October 1.

For more information about “The Music of Downton Abbey” please visit our Website.

Breakfast at Downton Abbey, Part I

There have been many scenes at the breakfast table in Downton Abbey.  lord-robert-reading-letterIn fact, the show kicks off in that very place, when Lord Grantham receives the letter informing him of the sinking of the Titanic. You will  recall that this is the event that the family’s fortunes turned on, setting the stage for Mary and Matthew’s romance.  Like most aspects of the life of an English gentleman and his family, the mores of the petit dejuner were carefully scripted and rigorously followed.

Breakfast was not consumed immediately upon rising by the upper classes.  Adapting a custom from agrarian communities, most people took tea and then fasted for the next two or three hours.   We know that the Duke of Wellington, for most of his life, rose at approximately 7:00am and spent at least three hours working on his correspondence and military dispatches before he sat down to breakfast.  In a letter to her sister, a639833d-4499-43cb-8566-07fd24a7514a_dCassandra, Jane Austen, while visiting London, wrote of rising near 8:00am, dressing and going out to the draper’s to do some shopping, before returning home at about 9:30am to have breakfast with her brother.  Hence the saying,

“Rise at five, dine at nine, Sup at five, to bed at nine, Makes man live ten times nine.”

Also, breakfast was the only meal that was self service.  char_lg_edithThe food — often an enormous array — was laid out on the sideboard.  It was customary for the diners — primarily gentlemen — to help themselves.  Married ladies would take their meal in bed perhaps due to the fashions and hair styles that required lengthy preparation, including assistance from their lady’s maid.   Edith in Downton Abbey caused some consternation by joining the men at Breakfast.  Her father asks,  “Why don’t you have breakfast in bed?” “Because I’m not married,” she answers.

Tomorrow we will examine the breakfast menu.

Please join the Long Beach Camerata Singers for our upcoming concert, “The Music of Downton Abbey,” on October 2 at 4:30pm.  Performed at the Beverly O’Neill Theater in Long Beach, California, your ticket price includes “Cream Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room in Bixby Knolls to enhance your concert experience!  Click Here to purchase tickets.DA Card

If you purchase a season subscription (3 concerts or more) you will be treated to the “Lady Violet Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room.  Click Here to purchase subscriptions.

Take a cooking class and learn how to make your own Afternoon Tea with ChefTech Cooking School!  Click Here for more information and to register for the class on Saturday, October 1.

For more information about “The Music of Downton Abbey” please visit our Website.

A Short Biography of Lady Violet

Violet Crawley, “Lady Violet,” is one of the most dynamic characters in Downton Abbey.  As my readers know, I am fascinated by the backstories of the characters on the show, and LV’s story is one of the best!

Born in 1842, Violet was the daughter of a Baronet and had at least one sister, the mother of her niece and goddaughter, Susan MacClare, Marchioness of Flintshire (married to “Shrimpie”), and one aunt.  e1b29e7e2a1bab9b60a30229f926b6cbWhile she was born into the aristocracy, her family was relatively impoverished.   When she married the Earl of Grantham sometime before 1860, she brought her upper class blood but little money into her marriage.  After her wedding, she was “pursued” by Lord Hepworth’s father;  Hepworth’s son later tried unsuccessfully  to marry Violet’s daughter, Rosamunde.  This photo shows Maggie Smith as a beautiful young woman — perhaps this is what the young Lady Violet looked like!

1f452a754548e44640057a0da6f0a1d2Violet gave birth to two children, a son and heir, Robert and a daughter, Rosamunde.  Not following in their mother’s footsteps, her children married into money rather than nobility. The Countess was against Robert’s engagement and marriage to the American heiress Cora Levinson, in 1889, but did reap the benefits of her fortune.

Violet visited Russia in 1874, where she met Prince Igor Kuragin, at the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg in 1874.  The Prince’s name is a nod to a character in Tolstoy’s War and Peace.  Violet later reveals to Isobel they fell madly in love and attempted to elope. They planned to leave on his yacht, but were intercepted by Kuragin’s wife, who had discovered their romance.  Madame Kuragin sent Violet  back to her own husband.

In The Chronicles of Downton Abbey: A New Era by Jessica Fellowes and Matthew Sturgis, Julian Fellowes relates images-48that the character of Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, is based on his tyrannical great-aunt Isie (she served also as the model for Lady Trentham in Gosford Park).  He describes her as ” . . . a woman whose dry wit concealed a good deal of personal suffering and who was no tougher on the rest of us as she was on herself.  It is perhaps that draconian sense of discipline that makes her breed seem admirable to me.”

Please join the Long Beach Camerata Singers for their upcoming concert, “The Music of Downton Abbey,” on October 2 at 4:30pm.  Performed at the Beverly O’Neill Theater in Long Beach, California, your ticket price includes “Cream Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room in Bixby Knolls to enhance your concert experience!  Click Here to purchase tickets.DA Card

If you purchase a season subscription (3 concerts or more) you will be treated to the “Lady Violet Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room.  Click Here to purchase subscriptions.

Take a cooking class and learn how to make your own Afternoon Tea with ChefTech Cooking School!  Click Here for more information and to register for the class on Saturday, October 1.

For more information about “The Music of Downton Abbey” please visit our Website.

The Powerful Role of Choral Music in Building Ceremony and Tradition

Downton_Front-v3Long Beach Camerata Singers will perform Ralph Vaughan Williams’ arrangement of “Old Hundredth” at our upcoming concert,  “The Music of Downton Abbey.”   Today’s post is excerpted from the concert’s program notes, prepared by Matthew Netto.

The English translation and paraphrase of Psalm 100, All People That On Earth Do Dwell (Old 100thbecame associated with the particular melody that is so familiar to the modern listener, hence the nickname “Old Hundredth.”

ATJN6T Westminster Abbey interior Choir stalls candle light gothic architecture London England UK nave Medieval architecture English
ATJN6T Westminster Abbey interior Choir stalls candle light gothic architecture London England UK nave Medieval architecture English

Ralph Vaughn Williams, who reworked many popular tunes for the Anglican hymnal, composed this version of All People That On Earth Do Dwell for the coronation of Queen Elizabeth II on June 2, 1953.  Click Here for a YouTube rendition of the piece performed in Westminster Abbey on the 50th Anniversary of Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation.

This hymn is most likely the oldest, continuously sung hymn in North America. It came to the Americas with British Protestants when they settled the Virginia colony in 1607 and brought with them The Psalms of David in English Metre. psaltersThat book (called a Psalter) contained musical settings of the Psalms and specifically, an English translation of Psalm 100, by William Kethe, set to the Calvinist tune of Psalm 134.  Due to the influence of the Swiss protestant reformer John Calvin, Psalm singing took a central role in protestant church life.  The tune of the hymn, attributed to Louis Bourgeois, first appears in the Genevan Psalter of 1551.  Often in the Psalters, the composers would write music with a specific number of notes to match the metered, syllabic symmetry of the Psalms, allowing Psalm texts and tunes to be interchangeable.

Please join the Long Beach Camerata Singers for our upcoming concert, “The Music of Downton Abbey,” on October 2 at 4:30pm.  Performed at the Beverly O’Neill Theater in Long Beach, California, your ticket price includes “Cream Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room in Bixby Knolls to enhance your concert experience!  Click Here to purchase tickets.DA Card

If you purchase a season subscription (3 concerts or more) you will be treated to the “Lady Violet Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room.  Click Here to purchase subscriptions.

Take a cooking class and learn how to make your own Afternoon Tea with ChefTech Cooking School!  Click Here for more information and to register for the class on Saturday, October 1.

For more information about “The Music of Downton Abbey” please visit our Website.

Learn to Make Afternoon Tea with Mrs. Patmore

We hope you will come to the Long Beach Camerata Singers upcoming concert, “The Music of Downton Abbey.”  In order to increase the Fun Quotient, we have enlisted the help of  local businesses to offer you additional activities that relate to Downton Abbey and that most civilized British practice of taking Afternoon Tea.

Afternoon-tea-image1-1000x450However, before one can partake of one’s Tea, someone must prepare it!   Mrs. Patmore is currently unavailable to undertake this task, so we have provided an opportunity for our patrons learn the finer points of preparing the tea.

cheftechlogoWe have partnered with Chef Tech Cooking School in Bixby Knolls.  On Saturday, October 1, they will be offering a class called, “British High Tea Workshop.”   Chef Teri Villanueva will teach you to prepare the following delicacies:

Cream Scones with Homemade Lemon Curd, Herbed Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnut Tea Sandwiches, Cucumber and Smoked Salmon Tea Sandwiches, Curried Chicken and Golden Raisin Tea Sandwiches, Shortbread, Mini Dark Chocolate Eclairs and Raspberry Petit Fours.

About ChefTech Cooking School:  Co-Owners 524000_388977861210122_2041091528_n-461x320Teri Villanueva and Amy Loe are graduates of the Culinary Institute of America and the Johnson and Wades Culinary Institute, respectively.   Teri is an award winning pastry chef and has extensive knowledge of authentic Mexican cuisine and methods.  Amy has served as Executive Chef at 555 Restaurant and Kings Fish House.  They are located at 3842 Atlantic Avenue, Long Beach, CA, 562-989-CHOP.

Click Here to visit their website and get more information about this fantastic cooking class!

Please join the Long Beach Camerata Singers for their upcoming concert, “The Music of Downton Abbey,” on October 2 at 4:30pm.  Performed at the Beverly O’Neill Theater in Long Beach, California, your ticket price includes “Cream Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room in Bixby Knolls to enhance your concert experience!  Click Here to purchase tickets.DA Card

If you purchase a season subscription (3 concerts or more) you will be treated to the “Lady Violet Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room.  Click Here to purchase subscriptions.

For more information about “The Music of Downton Abbey” please visit our Website.

Lady Violet’s Dower House Sells for $9,000,000 in 2015

Lady Violet is the Dowager Countess of Grantham, gallery-1431373612-byfleet-manor-1smallwhich means that when her son, Robert, married Cora, she was no longer entitled to live in the Abbey.  By custom, the mother-in-law of an aristocratic family lives in the Dower House.  If you have been keenly observant in your DA watching you have seen many shots of that luxurious abode.

Turns out that the house that was being used for the filming, Byfleet Manor,  gallery-1431375969-byfleet-manor-8actually sold in 2015 for close to $9,000,000.  The purchase included several adjacent properties.  According to the listing by Savils, “The Manor House in Byfleet, Surrey is the major portion of an exceptional Grade II* residence and home to Maggie Smith’s character Lady Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey. The main part of The Manor House is a beautiful and unique eight bedroom historic property which offers over 6,000 sq ft of living space and comes with four reception rooms and around 19 acres. ”

The estate has quite a history, as well: gallery-1431376000-byfleet-manor-9 “The history of Byfleet Manor extends as far back as the 7th century and is first recorded in 1086 in the Domesday Book, while Byfleet Manor as it stands today was built in around 1686. Pevsner recorded his observations about Byfleet Manor enthusiastically; “A great surprise, with its small-scale formality and mellow bricks; in fact one of the most attractive late C17 houses in the county.”

 

Please join the Long Beach Camerata Singers for their upcoming concert, “The Music of Downton Abbey,” on October 2 at 4:30pm.  Performed at the Beverly O’Neill Theater in Long Beach, California, your ticket price includes “Cream Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room in Bixby Knolls to enhance your concert experience!  Click Here to purchase tickets.DA Card

If you purchase a season subscription (3 concerts or more) you will be treated to the “Lady Violet Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room.  Click Here to purchase subscriptions.

For more information about “The Music of Downton Abbey” please visit our Website.

Ralph Vaughan Williams Visits Downton Abbey on October 2

Downton_Front-v3Long Beach Camerata Singers will perform Ralph Vaughan Williams “Serenade to Music” at our upcoming concert,  “The Music of Downton Abbey.”   Today’s post is excerpted from the concert’s program notes, prepared by Matthew Netto.

Serenade to Music eloquently captures the spirit behind all musicians’ love of the musical arts. Ralph (pronounced “raif”) Vaughan Williams 170px-vaughan-williams-by-rothensteindrew upon and adapted a discussion of Music of the Spheres in Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice (Act V, Scene I) for the text of this ode to his art. Music of the Spheres is an ancient philosophy exploring the relationships between mathematics, music, and the human spirit  which inspired many thinkers in the Renaissance period. Shakespeare’s interpretation of these thoughts lent itself particularly well to his gift for poetry, his text inspiring numerous composers to put ink to staff paper.

Many consider Vaughan Williams to be one of the finest symphonic composers of the 20th century. His compositional collection includes many stunning works for Symphonic Orchestra (two with chorus), Choir, Solo Voice, and even Concert Band, often featuring sacred texts or the works of iconic poets like Coleridge, Blake, and Whitman. He had two great loves in life: fine poetry and modal, Tudor folk music.  Serenade to Music shows his love for the pairing of fine poetry and major, minor, and modal harmonies to highlight the subtle nuances of Shakespeare’s prose.

Vaughan Williams composed this neo-Romantic composition for 16 soloists and orchestra to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the conductorimages-47 Sir Henry Wood of London’s “The Proms” concert series. Wood conducted the premier at Royal Albert Hall on October 5, 1938 where the famous pianist Sergei Rachmaninoff wept at its performance. Noted conductor Leonard Bernstein chose Serenade to Music to dedicate Avery Fisher Concert Hall with the New York Philharmonic in 1962. Due to the difficulty of the work, Vaughan Williams created several adaptations to incorporate choir and piano or organ. In  our October 2 performance of this piece, the solo violin part from the original orchestral score will accompany the choir and organ.

Please join the Long Beach Camerata Singers for their upcoming concert, “The Music of Downton Abbey,” on October 2 at 4:30pm.  Performed at the Beverly O’Neill Theater in Long Beach, California, your ticket price includes “Cream Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room in Bixby Knolls to enhance your concert experience!  Click Here to purchase tickets.DA Card

If you purchase a season subscription (3 concerts or more) you will be treated to the “Lady Violet Tea” at Elise’s Tea Room.  Click Here to purchase subscriptions.

For more information about “The Music of Downton Abbey” please visit our Website.

Observations and anecdotes about classical music in Southern California