Downsizing Downton?

Mrs. Patmore oversees the kitchen in Downton Abbey season 3
Mrs. Patmore oversees the kitchen in Downton Abbey season 3

Think you're ready to put on a picnic for the Crawleys? Tara Austen Weaver reports that one Mrs. Patmore would be kept quite busy prepping for her family's feast.

Fingers crossed Matthew does indeed contribute his new fortune to the Downton cause, because none of us want to see the grand house go.

Not that the wee rental place was anything to sneeze at. The Crawley version of downsizing is somewhat different from what you and I might think of as simplifying. “Eight servants is barely a staff at all.”

That picnic was hardly simple either. Everyone seemed too amused at the idea of Granny Grantham running a village shop to really tuck in, but there was bound to be more than tuna sandwiches on offer.

After all, here is a sample menu for a picnic, taken from a popular housekeeping book of the era. Nothing like roughing it, Crawley-style.

BILL OF FARE FOR A PICNIC FOR 40 PERSONS

A joint of cold roast beef
A joint of cold boiled beef
2 ribs of lamb
2 shoulders of lamb
4 roast fowls
2 roast ducks
1 ham
1 tongue
2 veal-and-ham pies
2 pigeon pies
6 medium-sized lobsters
1 piece of collared calf's head
18 lettuces
6 baskets of salad
6 cucumbers
Stewed fruit well sweetened, put into glass bottles well corked
3 or 4-dozen plain pastry biscuits to eat with the stewed fruit
2-dozen fruit turnovers
4-dozen cheesecakes
2 cold cabinet puddings in moulds
2 blancmanges in moulds
A few jam puffs
1 large cold plum-pudding (this must be good)
A few baskets of fresh fruit
3-dozen plain biscuits
A piece of cheese
6 lbs. of butter (this, of course, includes the butter for tea)
4 quartern loaves of household broad
3 dozen rolls
6 loaves of tin bread (for tea)
2 plain plum cakes
2 pound cakes
2 sponge cakes
A tin of mixed biscuits
1/2 lb, of tea
Coffee is not suitable for a picnic, being difficult to make.

—Mrs. Beeton’s Book of Household Management

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01/28/13

It's unclear if "broad" is a term of the era, or a vintage typo from Mrs. Beeton (it's spelled that way in her book), but it is assumed that yes, she is talking about bread :-)

01/23/13

Oh my it just makes your mouth water doesn't? .....it especially the collared calf's head. I presume the 4 quartern loaves of 'broad' is really bread I should think otherwise its a mystery food with a funny name!

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