About Kimbesa

I love dishes, and I continue to haunt thrift stores, estate sales, and other places where vintage china, dinnerware and glassware are to be found.

I talk about Dishes

Made in the USA

Are Downton Abbey Dishes Your Style?

Why I won’t have a Downton Abbey dinnerware set, but you might want to.

I like mixing my collection of vintage dinnerware and glassware, to create different table settings. That doesn’t mean I don’t use classic china dishes, just that my party style is eclectic.

Elegant china Noritake Sakura patternOne important element of an authentic Downton Abbey table is that all the china match. Each place setting would have all the right pieces to serve any menu, literally from soup bowls to nut dishes.

And the ware would be made from bone china, not just ordinary porcelain.

Any glassware, flatware and other pieces would be in patterns and materials that complement the dishes: crystal, silver, gold and linen.

While I can appreciate the beauty of these fancy dishes, when it comes to what I own and use, it’d go another way.

That’s why I won’t have a set that’s true to the Downton Abbey era.

Planning for the Downton Abbey Look

If you want to create a table setting for a party or special event, using the Downton look as your theme, here are some tips to get you started:

Check the “traditional” box in your searches. Some fine china patterns in this category have sleek shapes, others are more ornate, but they all are classic and elegant. Bone china, embossed details, intricate shapes, and gold or platinum rims, are all elements used in traditional dinnerware designs that can help you create this style.

Two of the dinnerware patterns that appear on the Downton Abbey series – Stafford White (at the Abbey) and Blue Italian (at Crawley House), both by Spode – can be starting points if you’re beginning your collection.

The Stafford White pattern is the newest of these, as it came onto the market around 1990. The “newer” version of Blue Italian dates from the early 1960s. Blue and white transferware like this, and the Spode company itself, have far older histories, in harmony with the 1912 to 1920s Downton era.

Another recent dinnerware design, Sakura by Noritake, also has the right traditional look, though it is a more modern shape. The pattern dates from the late 1960s through the 1970s.  It’s the kind of dinnerware the present-day residents of the Abbey might use.

Consider the pieces you’ll need to serve your menu and decorate your table. You will want to choose a pattern that is made in lots of piece types, so that you can set a full table of matching place settings and serving pieces for lots of different menus.

I see pieces with the right “antique look” in my travels, and they get snapped up quickly, probably by people with a permanent shopping list that has Downton Abbey party among the most wanted items.

That list isn’t limited to dinnerware, but includes glassware, table linens, napkin rings, candle sticks and any other items that can be used to create the right look on a tea table, buffet or centerpiece.

Collect samples to build your look. I suggest paint chips for color samples. For design ideas, try photos of candidate dinnerware, glassware and accessories from the web or magazines, single pieces that you buy to consider, and pieces from your existing collection.

A test arrangement on your buffet can help your ideas blossom, as you experiment and decide what to purchase in quantity for your complete set. It might take time to build your ideal, especially if you’re searching in secondary marketplaces, but the results will be worth it if Downton is your style.

For example, a wonderful flatware pattern called Vintage, by International Silver, is lavish and beautiful. It dates from the early 1900s. The pieces have an antique look and feel, with detailed grapes and vines on the fronts and backs of the pieces, even onto the bowl. Some teaspoons and salad forks in this pattern will contribute to your special table setting.

Elegant silver dessert fork

On to the Party

While I enjoy the thrill of the hunt, finding those special pieces, and using my cherished dinnerware, a full matched set is not on my list. Even so, it’s possible to create a charming style for a viewing party, when the time comes.

I’ll be using my Summer Chintz by Johnson Brothers, along with silverplate teaspoons and dessert forks, a fancy china 3-tier serving tray, and my best vintage white table cloth and napkins. Not all authentic to the time, but my table setting will convey the special look and feel to make my guests comfortable, as we enjoy our tea, TV, and the next chapter of the Downton Abbey saga.

Blog Widget by LinkWithinFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather

26 comments to Are Downton Abbey Dishes Your Style?

  • kimbesa

    Dinnerware marked HOME inside a rectangle, could be from Target. You can check their website to see if you can find it.

    Fashions in dishes come and go at a fairly fast pace, and even dinnerware from three or four years ago may be discontinued.

  • Sara

    Any idea what the white dishes used downstairs on Downton Abbey might be? Those are by far my favorite. Thank you!

  • Phil

    The “ironstone china” used at Crawley House is also the famed “mason’s Blue Mandalay”.

  • Karen Flynn

    I would love to know the name of the Dowager’s China on the new season of Downton Abbey, thank you.

  • Janet

    One of the patterns featured is ‘English Renaissance’. I inherited my mother’s set, but it is not complete and now the pattern is no longer in existence. How wonderful to see a whole set on the program. Anyone know where I might be able to purchase more pieces?

    • kimbesa

      Hello Janet,

      How old is the set you inherited? There is Replacements in the US, and Chinasearch in the UK.

    • Warren

      Royal Doulton stopped production of English Renaissance in 1996. There are many pieces of English Renaissance for sale on E-Bay. The listings change from month to month, so there is a good chance that you will find what you are looking for.

  • Charlotte

    What is the pattern used by Violet when she has tea at home, I love it just can’t find it?

  • Daniele

    I’d also love to know which plain, off-white china is used downstairs on Downton Abbey (as Sara asked). There are several closeups of these dishes in the current season 5. Can anyone identify it? Is it English, or does it originate elsewhere?

  • Donna

    What China is used downstairs at Downton Abbey? Also do you know name of yellow beaded plate shown at beginning of each episode?
    Thank you

    • kimbesa

      Hello Donna!

      The dinnerware in the open to Downton Abbey, check out Stafford White by Spode.

      I’ve written one post about the dinnerware on this show. Two patterns have been promoted by the maker as being those featured on the program.

      I’ve been working identifying the dinnerware from the servant’s hall, and that used upstairs at the Dowager cottage. No luck yet, but I expect to do a post soon on these regardless of how many details I can confirm.

      Hope this helps!

    • Mary B. Goouch

      Message for Donna !

      God Bless You!

      I have trying everywhere to get your (and my) question answered.

      In the opening credits a Single Dinner Plate is featured (WHITE) with what appears to be a simple border of “YELLOW” or “GOLD”.

      I hope that we can get a definitive answer.

      • kimbesa

        Hello again, Mary!

        As for the dinnerware in the opening to Downton Abbey, take a look at the Stafford White by Spode. I believe it’s the lighting on the gold details that give the rims a yellow cast.

        As for the older wares, such as in the Servant’s Hall, I have some ideas, but no clear word from the experts (yet).

  • Paul

    The dinnerware used at Downton Abbey by the family is Spode Stafford White. I don’t have an exact pattern identification for the plate in the opening sequence, but based on the shape I believe it is by Royal Worcester. The closest match at Replacements is pattern Z1965, currently out of stock. Patterns with a letter-number identification rather than a name are usually difficult to find. It is also possible the emblem or crest at the top of the plate was added by the props department, which added the fictional Crawley crest to the center of each Stafford White plate.

  • Paul

    As many know, Spode retired their Stafford White pattern, and it is possible to get some excellent bargains as retailers often have clearance sales to get rid of discontinued stock. Chinacraft in England (they have a website) is currently selling Stafford White teacups (unfortunately no saucers) for $9.85, a 90 percent discount from the $98.47 regular price. Even with the hefty shipping cost to the USA, these are a bargain (compare to some of the outrageous asking prices for Stafford White on eBay).

    • kimbesa

      Hello Paul!

      I have been disappointed to learn that Stafford White was discontinued in 2015. While a “Downton look” can be achieved with many different traditional patterns, it won’t be the same.

  • Fran

    Still no word on the name of the china pattern we see at the Dowager’s table? So beautiful!

    • kimbesa

      Hello Fran,

      Sorry, no. Tougher than I thought to find the person who knows the answer and will spend a little time to speak with me about it. But I keep looking for an avenue to get an answer!

  • Gail

    Kimbesa, I’ve been scouring the Internet identify the Dowager Countess’s tea service. I think it may be Royal Albert’s “Heirloom” (also, sadly, discontinued).

  • Lisa

    Hello – has anyone noticed that the china pattern used at the dowager house has changed? For first few years it looked very similar to RD Heirloom – but I’m pretty sure it changed last year to a pattern with much more white and less large blocks of cobalt. It’s just beautiful. It looks to be an
    Imari type pattern. Any ideas? Thanks!

  • Suzette

    Hello – Have you been able to identify the dishes used in the servant’s hall in Downton Abbey yet?

    • kimbesa

      Hello Suzette,

      Sorry, no. Have not found the answer to this question.

      My best suggestion for anyone who wants to re-create this look would be to look for fine quality restaurant ware, such as the kind used for serving my friend and I when we visited Adare Manor in Ireland (http://diaryofadishie.com/happy-anniversary/).

      The cup share of this ware is not the same as that in the servant’s hall in Downton Abbey. Those are round, similar to half an orange. The contemporary ware we had with our tea is a more modern design.

      Hope this helps!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>