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Downton Abbey Is Back and as Beautiful as Ever!

Dinner parties were a major preoccupation of Edwardian high society. We wouldn't mind being invited to one with these two gentlemen

Downton Abbey Is Back and as Beautiful as Ever!

Our patience has finally paid off; season three of Downton Abbey premieres Jan. 6 at 9 p.m. EST, and we could not be more thrilled. We have missed the Crawley family and the staff! This season, the incomparable Shirley MacLaine joins the cast as Martha Levinson, the mother of Lady Grantham. We can't imagine a better match for the Dowager - showdown at Downton Abbey! If those aren't the type of fireworks you are interested in, then get excited by the weddings of both Lady Edith and Lady Mary.

In case you have just returned from space, Downton Abbey meticulously traces the lifestyle of an aristocratic English family just before and during World War I, as well as the family's staff of servants, all of whom are harnessed to Downton Abbey, the regal home they inhabit.

It may sound like a dull period piece, but that could not be further from the truth. Drama! Intrigue! Dinner parties!

Downton Abbey itself is actually Highclere Castle, a 1,000-acre estate in Hampshire, England, that was designed in 1842 by Sir Charles Barry. Highclere is massive, with 11 bedrooms on the first floor and 40-50 on the upper floors. Several of the bedrooms are used in the filming of Downton Abbey, and the majority of the series is actually filmed on site at the castle.

While the Edwardian era officially ended in 1910, the style is broadly noted to extend through 1919. The show, which is set in 1912, reflects much of the era's look in terms of decor and colors. The onset of World War I delayed the influence of the art-deco style, which was the next era in fashion, art, and decor to follow the Edwardian era - though you can definitely see some hints of art deco in the Downton Abbey sets, as well. Keep reading to see photos from the upcoming season and to find out more about the unique decor from the series.

Photos courtesy of ITV