the true story behind the plots of the hit british period drama

For fans of the period dramas Nowadays ‘Downton Abbey’ is one of the great header series that you should not miss if you like the genre. Although we had to say goodbye the Crawley family (and its huge cast) after six seasons, every once in a while we get a new joy in the form of a movie, with ‘Downton Abbey: A New Age’ hitting theaters next April 29.

The British series is framed within a very specific historical context, right between the change between the “old world” and the modernities and revolutions of the 20th century. Although he often takes some license with historical events, ‘Downton Abbey’ It has managed to remain very faithful to the moment in which the story takes place, leaving us with several references to what was really happening in the world while the plots of the series were being developed.


Some first seasons full of tragedies

Breaking the beginning of the first season a bit, the first chapter of the series literally starts with one of the first great tragedies of the century: the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. This event is the great trigger for ‘Downton Abbey’, since the family loses its two heirs and Matthew Crawley he becomes Robert’s new successor.

With the arrival of Matthew and his mother Isobel, the plot of ‘Downton Abbey’ really starts, but in the midst of love affairs, etiquette lessons and family dramas, the first seasons of the series are full of tragedies inspired by real events.

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The first season closed with the outbreak of the First World War in 1914. This conflict is very present throughout the second season, as well as the “Spanish Flu” pandemic in 1918. During this decade everything happened and the real story can be seen to spare in the British series, which takes care very well of reminding us at what moment its plot is framed, pointing out from time to time some events such as the Russian Revolution and the assassination of the Romanov family.

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‘Downton Abbey’ is a series about how the world was changing in these early years of the 20th century, starting with a bang from Victorian England and with the Crawley family having to adapt to the changes brought by the new Edwardian era. And it is that although it does not end up being so impressive in the plot, we also see certain nods to the suffrage struggle and the workers’ revolutions, especially thanks to the characters of Tom and Sybil.

The Roaring 20’s

Although the first seasons went at full speed, covering several years per season, from the fourth season the rhythm of the series slows down a bit to take things more calmly. We are finally in the 20’sand ‘Downton Abbey’ introduces us to a world very different from the one we were introduced to when the series began.

It is a moment with great technological revolutions, where the use of the telephone at home (an unthinkable novelty in the first season) is already something everyday and mundane. in the series we see the consequences that the world war has been having and how England is trying to recover from the conflict. The war changed many things including the role of women in society, which although it was far from the roles of today, it was gaining more freedom and rights for women while they joined the world of work.

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This is also reflected in the series, and in the characters of Mary and Edith, which are taking more prominence beyond romantic plots. Mary becomes more interested in running Downton Abbey and modernizing the estate’s economic system. Edith becomes the editor of a women’s magazine, also reflecting the number of publications of this type that emerged in these years to accompany the radical changes that occurred in the aesthetics of the decade: shorter dresses and skirts, “extreme” haircuts, goodbye to corsets…

During these years several political changes continue and the seeds of several movements are planted, with the fear of communism and the Irish revolution very present among the upper echelons of the English nobility. In the series they do not cut a hair when referring to real historical events and charactersincluding a Hitler who was already beginning to be noticed in Germany and some passing comment about the rise of fascism in Europe.

A new cinematic era

The previous ‘Downton Abbey’ movie left us with the visit of the kings. We have already left behind the reign of Edward VII and George V now reigns, the grandfather of the current monarch of England. Although the events that we saw in the film are fictitious and do not reflect any specific moment, they are inspired by a royal custom of the kings to tour the country and visit the aristocratic families of each area.

Specifically, the visit that is reflected in the plot seems to have been greatly influenced by King George and Queen Mary’s visit to Wentworth Woodhouse in 1912where in fact the dance scene at the end of the film was shot.

There are also several historical references during the ‘Downton Abbey’ movie, including rumors that Princess Mary was not completely happy in her marriage to Henry Lascelles. The attempted assassination of King George V also has a certain basis, although ‘Downton Abbey’ twists political tensions and historical figures a lot to exploit the drama of the film. The king did not suffer any attack by any Irish separatist, but in the first years of the decade there were many armed conflicts and attacks against British politicians.

It is still not very clear what historical references (or licenses) it will take ‘Downton Abbey: A New Era’but we do know that it takes place in 1928, nine months after the first movie.