Troubador The Downton Era

Released: 28/11/2019

ISBN: 9781838592103

eISBN: 9781838597429

Format: Paperback/eBook

Review this Book

Author Website

The Downton Era

Great Houses, Churchills, and Mitfords


Who was the most beautiful woman in England in the twentieth century – and why did she become the most hated woman? Who spent £500,000 to remodel her house for a king's weekend visit? What country house has a roof that is seven acres in size? What prime minister's mother had at least twenty lovers? How many million individuals were killed in World War 1?

The answers to such startling questions show that history is an unnerving mixture of breathtaking moments and punishing reversals. Written as a rattling good read, The Downton Era takes the reader on a journey through twentieth century England by pointing out the personal landmarks that make up history. When we see elegant country houses, we discover that such great piles of rock record the aristocratic arc of the English upper class from its Victorian heyday onward into the twentieth century. Titles and dances and hunts were social events that linked families and forged governments. By exploring the interwoven family chronicles of the Churchills and their cousins, the Mitfords, we see history at a personalized level. In their lives are woven together stories of great houses, the lure and weight of title, the range and challenge of political influence, and the privileged entrapments that undermined their dazzling social world. As with tragedy, the scale of greatness and disintegration in these families and their class makes for riveting reading. 

This book will make a great gift for a quarantined friend!

This book is a fabulous primer for people who want to know the historical background to the period covered by the Downton Abbey series and movie. Nancy Parrish clearly traces the rise and fall of the stately English country houses as a way of explaining how the English aristocracy rose and—by the 1950s—fell. What is especially interesting is how she also weaves in the lives of the aristocratic Churchill and Mitford cousins who rocked society and the politics of their time. Meticulously researched as was her book Lee Smith, Annie Dillard, and the Hollins Group (LSUP), Parrish has again delivered a fascinating read.

by Eileen Ford

Despite the incomprehensible sacrifices in the trenches of the Great War; the economic travails of decades that followed it; the direct attack of a second world war; and the collapse of every other monarchy across Europe, England has managed to sustain a crown and its attendant peerage. For Americans and others who obsess on all things Downton Abbey, Nancy Parrish provides a marvelous lens for examining the unlikely albeit fascinating survival of British aristocracy in the 20th century. Parrish looks closely at two families—the Mitfords and the Churchills—to reveal the tensions between time-held traditions and the disruptions of modernity. A cast of real-life characters emerge in all their utterly unique personalities, sometimes compromised in petty squabbles, but ultimately revealing the remarkable courage and intelligence that elevated their forebears… and may hold the manor for a few minutes more. I turned Dr. Parrish’s pages eagerly and encourage you to do the same.

by Peg O'Keef

It has been my great good fortune to have read Nancy C. Parrish’s book The Downton Era: Great Houses, Churchills, and Mitfords and I have found it to be a real treasure. Anyone who has enjoyed the tremendous popularity of the television series, the movies, and the documentaries focused on this era in England will be delighted to discover more in this book about some of the key players and what a significant place England held on the world stage. Dr. Parrish has created a wonderfully readable history that pulls together the three topics with insight and clarity. She creates interest not only in the people but also in the era by sharing with her readers the “back stories” on why things happened as they did. She does all this with clear scholarship, clear writing, and wit, making it a very appealing read. Her insights into the social mores of the time are cogent and clear, and often delivered with great good humor. I have shared news of the book's anticipated publication and a number of my “reader” friends are very excited about it.

I think you have a winner in this book, and I look forward not only to its success but also to more works from Nancy C. Parrish.

by Alicia

Nancy Parrish

Nancy Parrish, author of Lee Smith, Annie Dillard, and the Hollins Group, earned her Ph. D. at the College of William and Mary. She has taught in Virginia public schools and for both Lynchburg College and Virginia State University. Her research for this book was conducted in England, Belgium, France, and the United States. She is currently researching a biography of the World War II reporter, Virginia Cowles. Visit her blog at

Dr. Nancy C. Parrish
  • Buy as a printed
  • £9.99

  • 3 customer reviews
Also by Nancy C. Parrish / Related Books