Downton Abbey’s New Toaster


Downton Abbey’s New Toaster

In his article entitled Toast and the Brahmin pundit, eminent and erudite Oxford-educated Professor Purushottama Bilmoria explains to the rather overstimulated and excitable Brahmin pundit that one cannot have toast without having baked bread from which to make the toast.

I would hazard in similar vein that one cannot have a toast rack without first having a toaster.

It’s a cart-before-the-horse sort of thing.

So when I recently saw – to my delight and my surprise – that Mrs. Hughes (played with such deft skill and charm by actress Phillis Logan) had acquired the very first British toaster for Downton Abbey I was filled with awe and anticipation. Could it be possible that Downton Abbey might subsequently manifest a British toast rack in the near future? My eyes remain riveted to future episodes – as I dearly hope do your eyes remain riveted for the same reason.

While we ponder the future of Downton’s toast rack potential we might also take a visit down the gallery of toasters that have popped up over the years – many during my own childhood.

As a schoolgirl at Badminton, my dad would take me down to The Bridge Tea Rooms where there would be an absolutely astonishing array of tinkering and tottering toasters and toast trinkets. Some of them seemed centuries old and here is one that I was particularly partial to:

Isn’t that just spiffy? Well, I think so. It has far more character than the modern robotic things that pass for ‘toasters’ these days. In fact, during the time of Downton Abbey’s current season, when one purchased a toaster it arrived in a tin or cardboard ‘toaster box’ which children happily usurped in order to stuff it with things like chalk and crayons or pencils and pens.

Unlike cigar boxes, toaster boxes did not reek of cigars.

My favorite was the Star-Rite Reversible Toaster box (pictured above) in which I hid my stash of Cadbury’s chocolates from my fellow boarders at Badminton… Until the prefect found it under by bed and ‘confiscated’ the chocolates. But I still have the toaster box after all these years.

My grandmother used to have one of these double-sided toasters (pictured below) at the breakfast table which not only toasted the toast but also kept it warm – which, as we know, a toast rack does not do. What precisely is the point of the British toast rack thingymebob?

Frankly, I never understood the point of the British toast rack. What I understood amply is the great British tradition of ‘high tea’. Now that is one British tradition well worth hanging on to!