If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you’ve likely been celebrating the new movie hitting theaters this month. It’s been a long four years since we’ve heard the quippy one-liners of our beloved Dowager Countess. The kitchen was always my favorite location to see in the show, and in 2016 I had the pleasure of visiting Highclere Castle in person. What a dream! The grounds were beautifully manicured and the interior takes you back to another time.
Unfortunately, no photographs are allowed inside the castle. Not to worry! Today we’re sharing the secrets of the kitchen and 9 products to add a Downton theme to your kitchen. Some are true antique pieces you’ll have to source, while others are newly made by some of the original companies that have been around since the time periods of Downton. Grab one or all to reminisce and add a touch of character to your kitchen. The good news is most of these pieces are timeless classics. We also have a Downton Abbey Inspired collection in the shop with one of a kind vintage and vintage style pieces for you to enjoy.
The series began in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic, and progresses through the mid 1920’s with the last season wrapping in 1926. The creators of the show were very particular with respect to customs and period technology and homewares. There were no props on set that were not true to the time period of that season. What we’re sharing today are products you can see on the set in various episodes over the course of the 6 seasons. Of course I can’t wait to see what new items pop up in the movie! Pictures of the set are images courtesy of NBC Universal. All other images, copyright Della's Kitchen.
1. Antique egg stand
If you’ve ever been to a European grocery store, you know that most eggs around the world are sold in non-refrigerated areas. They’re fresh and often not yet washed. In many of the Downton scenes, you’ll see a large antique egg stand on the table holding 4-5 dozen eggs. Obviously, there are not many households that can support that large of egg usage. This could be used for decoration in a table center or hung on a wall. Here’s a link to an Etsy seller who hand crafts these beauties. It would take some searching to find a true antique piece.
2. Mason Cash
Mason Cash is an English company whose origins can be traced back to 1800 during the heart of the ceramic boom. Since then, Mason Cash has become a staple in the British household. In fact, it appears on the Great British Baking Show, was used by bakers for recent Royal Weddings, and of course appears in almost every kitchen scene in Downton. The Royal family gifts a pudding in a Mason Cash Pudding Basin each year to staff. They’re a workhorse in the kitchen, and a classic design. We have several Mason Cash pieces in the shop including the pudding basin, a single bowl option, and some nesting sets. Shop here for all Mason Cash and their accessories.
3. Wood table/countertop
A large wooden table in the center of the kitchen seems to be a workhorse for Downton. Are you a plastic cutting board person wondering how they ever kept bacteria from getting everyone sick? I suggest you read our Cutting Board 101 blog post (let me know what you think!!). I think a large wood table or butcher block in the kitchen is definitely a beautiful workhorse. Don’t be afraid to scratch it up – it only adds character. Antique wooden butcher chopping blocks are super trendy these days, and one of the desirable characteristics is how worn and curved the top is. In addition to a great wooden work table below, you're looking at several Mason Cash bowls mentioned above.
Copper cookware has been around for many hundreds of years. It's an excellent conductor of heat, making it a wonderful tool for even cooking and baking. At the time, cooking surfaces were not always super even, but the copper took care of that by spreading the heat evenly and quickly. French copperware is famous and pricey, but a wonderful tool to have in your kitchen. We may be adding some French made copper pieces in the shop soon. Until then, grab the benefit of a copper bowl with this beautiful whisk that's also Made in America.
5. Aebleskiver Pan
In the picture below, we've circled a picture of an Aebleskiver pan. You can find these vintage pieces online and sometimes new in shops. Aebleskivers are mini pancakes made in a 1/2 spherical mold. Think slightly crunchy exterior, soft interior with your choice of filling. Add pancake mix, let cook, add a little bit of your filling to the center, top with more pancake mix, and flip in the mold. This is a ffun treat for breakfast or snack time. In the Downton image, you can see they have a beautiful copper piece. Today they're available in cast iron and aluminum as well.
6. Flour Sack Towels
Flour sack towels came about out of necessity. Manufacturers’ utilized cloth for delivery of dry goods from the 1800’s to the 1950’s. Homemakers then reused the fabric in a variety of ways, including a hand towel. Downton shows what’s likely a flour sack towel sewn together for a loop that will continuously dry. Grab some flour sack towel options here.
7. Mrs Beeton’s Book of Household Management
The production staff actually consulted this 1800’s guide book during the making of the show. It provided the do’s and don’t of managing a household during these time periods. These books are readily available in online stores like eBay, varying in price based on the publication year.
Although not everyone cooks with an apron these days, it is really a useful tool to keep your clothes in good shape (important in that time since purchasing new items was a treat), and being able to dry hands. Here is a classic herringbone style that can also be used to dry hands as you go. Or grab Grandmother Eastwood's vintage apron.
9. Household Wants Indicator
This item is a true antique that would be a fun décor item in your kitchen. This tool was used to keep track of what was needed for the pantry and home. They can be hard to find, so you’ll have to search the antique shops and keep an eye online to find one. There is a list of items and a flip tab to indicate whether the item is needed.
What other pieces have you noticed on the show that you’d love to add to your own home? Let us know if you have any questions about these pieces.