Award-winning director Patrick Forbes imagined faded grandeur and vanished influence when he began filming The Aristocrats; instead, he discovered a class enjoying rude health and new wealth – but for whom the upkeep of the antique marquetry furniture was the least of their troubles.
For the average person in Lancashire, a Victorian oak pedestal desk in the living room is as close as they get to aristocratic life, but Forbes spent months in the company of people like Lord March and the Duke of Marlborough, for whom pulling up a Victorian balloon back dining chair is an everyday occurrence. Steeped in wealth and tradition, they are the owners of Goodwood and Blenheim Palace, which were showcased in his 4-part series The Aristocrats (Channel 4, Thursday 22nd and 29th November).
Having wriggled out of an unexpected proposal by a titled lady, Forbes quickly discovered that life as a British aristocrat was far removed from that of the charming owners he met while filming his English Heritage and National Trust series. The landed gentry who have managed to hold on to their family seats may be enjoying a life of wealth and privilege, but behind the scenes lie tales of scandal, betrayal and personal tragedy.
Viewers in Cumbria will meet the aristocrats of Waddesdon Manor and Wimborne St Giles when the series returns in the New Year. Antique dealers in Lancashire have Victorian dining chairs , antique chests and other fine furniture, to give customers a taste of the high life in their own homes.
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