Wednesday, 6 July 2011

The Beauty of Berkeley Square

Way back in 1998, the BBC broadcast a costume drama called Berkeley Square, the rolling saga of the lives of three Edwardian nannies and the families they lived with.  I loved it and was disappointed that they made no more, especially as it ended on about three cliff-hangers.  I bought the video and eventually made the redoubtable Mr Walker watch it when we moved in together.  The phrase ‘jigsaw privilege’ has entered the Walker household language*.

Part of the reason I loved the series is the outfits and households, especially the Lamson-Scribener home, but it wasn’t until I bought the DVDs last year that I watched again and noticed all the interiors properly.  For example, look at the frieze around the hallway…

I do believe it’s part of the Morris & Co The Forest pattern.  It spreads all around the hallway and so features in many scenes as Lydia, the country-bumpkin nanny comes in and out of the house in a charming, rustic way.

Lydia giving Lord Hugh a good talking to
Detail from The Forest

Not only to they have the good taste to have a Morris hallway, but Lord Lamson-Scribener has the most smashing blue and white room, how very aesthetic.  Get a load of his pots…

The Blue and White China Room - you know what they say about a man with a large pot...
 Nice, and clock the pointy gothic chair in the corner.  Lovely.  Oh, look, he has a matching mirror just outside in the hallway…


Anyway, next door are the troubled St John family, who are embroiled in marital issues and adultery, but do have some rather lovely art on their wall.

OK, so the bottom picture is definitely Dante’s Dream, but I am guessing the top one is a pencil sketch of Jane Morris, but it could easily be a Burne-Jones, I can't quite place it.  There is another picture hung on the wall opposite, but it’s never in shot long enough to screen capture it or see what it is.  Damn them!
Torrid plot aside, it is worth watching this little gem for the wallpaper alone.

The last one is again in the Lamson-Scribener home and is Morris-tastic, complete with little panels.  For a link to further images and an episode guide, have a look at the entry on Wikipedia.   As it is now available on DVD, I do recommend it to anyone who enjoys a costume drama.  It has everything: a modern-thinking American wife, Hermione Norris being all adulterous, lecherous Lord Hugh who is bent on despoiling the innocent Lydia.  I have rather a soft spot for Lydia, being a rural lass myself, and like to imagine turning up at my new job with a dozen eggs and some clotted cream.  

 I haven’t always been as sophisticated as what I am today, you know…

 * 'Jigsaw Privilege' refers to an incident when one little boy is allowed to see the picture on the box when doing his jigsaw, and he is allowed to finish it instead of it just being dumped into the box when the senior nanny gets bored.  Such luxury! The phrase is used in our house to refer to being allowed to do something straightforward when other people's stupidity has stopped you doing it before.


  1. I join you in wall paper lusting and gothic arch coveting. And I do believe I have the gothic mirror in the hallway.

    This was in my Netflix queue but I've just moved it to the top; thank you so much for the prompt!!!

  2. It is lovely and is a classy piece of costume drama. I need a second series, but I guess that's why I transferred my affections to Downton Abbey...

  3. Want to watch this now!! I do so love a film with droolworthy interiors. I assume you've watched Fanny & Alexander? (Recommended to me by Tess)

  4. It's on my rental list(after your recommendation) and I'm looking forward to the drool :)

  5. Huzzah! You may need to watch the Christmas party scenes multiple times for all the droolishness.


Many thanks for your comment. I shall post it up shortly! Kx