A Charity Gala Dinner with the Stars
The splendour and regency charm of Hedsor House made it the natural choice for ‘An Evening with Downton Abbey’, a special charity gala dinner organised by the Chilterns MS Centre.
This was the first event of its kind for the charity, and together with seven cast members, the dinner guests helped to raise more than £45,000 for the charity.
The gala event was hosted by Robert James-Collier and Allen Leech, who play scheming under butler Thomas Barrow and driver-made-gentleman Tom Branson in the show. On the night, they described themselves as the ‘Edwardian Ant and Dec’ so an entertaining evening was definitely had by all. Over 100 guests were treated to a truly grand party, starting with a Champagne reception in the magnificent Centre Hall. This gave guests a chance to have a taste of the life as ‘Lady of the House’!
Guests moved into the oak-panelled Ballroom to enjoy a sumptuous three course dinner, prepared by Melissa Webb with a handpicked selection of vintage wines.
A live auction, hosted by Jim Carter who plays Butler Mr Carson in the show, was a huge success and included a range of prizes including ‘Upstairs’ Afternoon Tea at the Dorchester with Lady Mary – and ‘Downstairs’ Afternoon Tea at the Ritz with Daisy the Maid and Thomas the Butler!
In addition to a raffle, a spontaneous additional fundraiser arose when cast members offered guests the chance to take ‘selfies’ with them in return for a donations. There was also a special one-off performance by Downton’s Lady Mary which surprised and delighted guests in equal measure.
And of course, no gala dinner would be complete without lots of dancing, so guests were invited to take to the floor to enjoy the music and dance the night away in the Ballroom. All that before carriages at 1am. A night well spent, and all for a good cause!
A Match Made In Heaven
Hedsor House is actually no stranger to Downton Abbey; indeed, the Centre Hall has been used in the ITV programme as the location for a Fashion Show attended by Lady Mary and her Aunt Rosamund, whilst the Ballroom was transformed for a dining room scene for Lady Mary and Mr Blake.
And, according to the international press, Hedsor itself has a fair amount in common with Downton Abbey. The New York Times described a “luxurious stone pile played by the handsomely Downton-esque Hedsor House" and The Guardian wrote that Hedsor “rivals Downton Abbey...and the grounds put Kew to shame."