Sunday, March 16, 2014

Secrets of... series review

I've been so busy with sewing that I've fallen horribly behind on my reviews. In addition, I kind of had to work my way through this series before I could actually write a review. The first video I remember watching sometime last year (before I even started this blog), and the most recent was only a couple weeks ago.

Each of the episodes are between 60-90 minutes long, but chock full of history and information. I'll try to highlight the main subject of each and the topics of interest they cover.

Secrets of the Manor House
This takes an in-depth look at the country manor houses of England's aristocracy around the turn of the century. Good for those who are interested in Victorian and Edwardian history, the American Buccaneers, or the TV shows Upstairs Downstairs and Downton Abbey.

Secrets of Highclere Castle
Following in the wake Downton Abbey is this episode which covers the history of Highclere Castle (the real-life estate that stands in for Downton) and its inhabitants. It covers the history of the castle's designs and changes, the lives and adventures of the owners (both prior and most recent), and of the people who help to maintain the property in the modern age. Recommended viewing for anyone loves Downton Abbey, or those who like manor house history.

Secrets of Chatsworth
In the same strain of English manor houses is this episode about Chatsworth. Home of the Devonshire family, this also covers the history of the property and its occupants, touching upon notable individuals such as Georgiana Devonshire (the Georgiana of The Duchess). Good for those with interests in Georgiana or manor houses.

Secrets of Althorp: The Spencers
This episode focuses on the Spencer family, which still resides at the estate. Charles, the 9th Earl, narrates most of the program and goes over its history and prior inhabitants. Most notable is his sister Diana, the late Princess of Wales. This episode is best for those with an interest in the Spencer family or manor houses.

Secrets of Henry VIII's Palace: Hampton Court
Another house, but an entirely different one. Jumping back further in time to the 1500s, this episode visits one of King Henry VIII's favorite residences which still retains much of its original architecture. Great for those with interests in Tudor History and the English Renaissance.

Secrets of the Tower of London
It's hard to cover the entire history of this famous location in one hour, but they do a good job of catching the highlights of its history, inhabitants, and operation. It even influenced how the modern day London Bridge was built! Will interest those who like London history and Tower history in general since it spans a multitude of years.

Secrets of Selfridges
So I watched this one before I had any idea what it was and still loved it. The subject of this is pretty self-explanatory - Selfridges department store in London - and goes over the history of the store and its owner. Good bonus material for anyone watching Mr. Selfridge or even The Paradise. I haven't seen Mr. Selfridge yet, but now I want to!

Secrets of Scotland Yard
I don't know much about this topic, so it was good to help add to my knowledge base and is included since it's part of the series. This focuses on Scotland Yard's history and some its more notorious cases including the assassination attempt on Queen Victoria and Jack the Ripper, as well as modern cases. Good for those with an interest in London history, police crime, and watchers of the series Whitechapel and Sherlock.

All cover images are from

Some of these have more focus than others on topics that are related to Victorian and Edwardian history, but each touches upon these periods (even if it is only briefly). While I don't know yet if this is an actual "series" verses stand alone documentary episodes, I believe they're still great watches for those with the above mentioned interests and to just learn a few more secrets about some of these already famous locations.

Overall review - 4 out of 5

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