Downton Abbey has captured the hearts of its devoted fans by depicting the mostly tedious lives people led in the early 1900s. Put to work during almost every waking moment of their existences, the servants answer to the whims of their aloof employers. The nobility are equally constrained by the societal mores of their time; endless social gatherings distract from near constant stress about marriage prospects and a suspiciously high number of dead relatives. And yet, for fans of the show, no price is too high to pay for the chance to recreate those lives. In fact, a recent Christie’s charity auction has raised over $68,000 to do just that, with the money going to support Heroes At Highclere, supporting numerous armed forces charities.
The “Downton Abbey experiences” purchased by winning bidders will all take place at Highclere Castle, where Downton is filmed. While some of the lots are quite charming—a picnic for four, a dinner for eight, an overnight stay in three of the castle’s rooms—others sound noticeably less enchanting. One bidder won the chance to have their oil portrait painted in front of Highclere Castle—which seems quaint at first, but would mean hours of sitting still in the sun. Another bidder spent an estimated $5,000 to receive a private lesson on setting a dining table from Highclere’s head butler—something that would no doubt shock and appall Lord Grantham, lest it inspire his own servants to think outside the classist structure that provides meaning to his otherwise empty life.