As season four of Downton Abbey kicks off this Sunday on PBS’s Masterpiece, Parade offers an obsessive tour of the blockbuster show’s beloved characters, customs, and costumes—from A (American Heiresses) to Z (some of the best Zingers from Maggie Smith’s Dowager Countess Violet). Here is just a sampling of the more surprising facts included on the list:
F is for FOOD: Downton’s dinner table has hosted many pivotal scenes. Because the dishes must hold up under hot lights, anything sugar- or cream-based is out, as is fish (which the cast discovered the hard way, Parade reports).
K is for KING TUTANKHAMUN: The Egyptian ruler has a connection to Highclere Castle, owned by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, where the show is filmed. His tomb was discovered in 1922 by the fifth Earl of Carnarvon and a colleague, and Highclere houses replicas of items found there. Although this history won’t intersect with Downton’s story line, “everybody [on set] talks about the house being haunted,” says Shirley MacLaine, who plays Lady Cora’s mother.
Y is for YORK PRISON: Bates spent much of season three here after being falsely convicted of murdering his first wife. Those scenes were filmed at Lincoln Castle in Lincoln, used as the city’s court and prison for 900 years and home to one of only four surviving copies of the Magna Carta.
For 23 more fascinating Downton facts, including the direction cocreator Julian Fellowes took with season four’s finale, go to Parade.com: http://bit.ly/1eYgAuy or check out Sunday’s Parade.