Thursday, 24 April 2014, 8:00 pm

A piece of Downton in Niagara

Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. SUBMITTED PHOTOBy CATHY McCABE
Staff Writer
As fans eagerly await the Canadian release of Downton Abbey Season 4, they can ease their anxiety by visiting a little piece of Downton in Niagara.
The Crown and Crumpet tearoom in Jordan, Ont., offers visitors afternoon tea as well as Downton-themed events.
Downton Abbey is a British period drama airing Sunday nights on PBS in North America. Created by Julian Fellowes, the series follows the Crawley family and their servants as they manoeuvre through their fast changing world, which includes the sinking of the Titanic, World War One and the Spanish Flu epidemic.
Lorraine Simpson, the tearoom’s owner, says they have special upstairs evening suppers and downstairs evening suppers for Downton fans.
She says the upstairs suppers are “terribly posh” adding the meal is served white glove by waiters. The food is traditional including smoked salmon and beef wellington.
At the downstairs suppers the guests are treated as if they are “servants.” Simpson says she dresses up as Mrs. Patmore and her daughter dresses up as Daisy, two of servant characters.
“It’s loud. There will be banging on the table or they’ll be dancing. Imagine if you’re in the servants’ hall, how you would behave. I’ll come in and say, ‘Oy. Pipe down. Less of your noise. They’ll hear you upstairs.’ We really make it as if it’s a play, really.” Volunteers are welcome to help out with these events.
Simpson is the founder and president of the Niagara Downton Abbey Fan Club. It began because she “fell in love with the show,” as the story is relatable.
“It is set in a house that isn’t something most of us can afford, so you think that the people are very different to us and they are actually not. They are very similar to us,” noting they have the same problems. “They have financial issues, they still have death in the family, they still lose babies, they still have family issues and infidelity.”
She says she began with a few Downton themed teas.
The Crown and Crumpet Tea Room in Jordan, Ont. PHOTO BY CATHY MCCABE“My customers loved it. My customers were like, ‘We want more of this’, so I put on more events and they sold out too quickly. We decided to make it a bit of an exclusive club, so that if you were a member you would hear about these events first.”
In November, Simpson took a group of 16 to Britain for a week where they visited Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed.
“They loved it. They had a great time.” They had dinner with Lord and Lady Carnarvon, the current owners of Highclere Castle, and visited Bampton village, where the town shots in Downton are filmed.
A New York Times article reports Downton Abbey is viewed in more than 200 countries and has more than 120 million viewers worldwide. The Huffington Post reports 7.9 million people watched the premiere of Season 3 on PBS.
Downton Abbey Season 4 premieres Jan. 5 on PBS.
To make reservations at the tearoom go to www.thecrownandcrumpet.com or visit www.downtonfanclub.com to join the fan club.

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