Downton Abbey has kick-started and reignited a number of trends, including the Victorian trend of the language of flowers, including a variety of flower names for women, such as Violet, Daisy, Rose, and Marigold. Family names still rule, but the Victorians were big fans of the language of flowers. While the other traditional names like Mary, Cora, Edith, Sybil, and Isobel will always be in vogue, flower names are having a rebirth, largely thanks to Downton Abbey, Julian Fellowes, and those wild and crazy Victorians.
According to the Inquisitr, names are not the only trends set off by Downton Abbey. Fashions of the day have once again become a topic of conversation, from hairstyles, flapper gear, the Jazz Age, hemlines, and lots of jewelry. Lily James, who plays Lady Rose Aldridge, was always a fashion lightening rod, pushing the young and wild agenda, dancing to the wireless, dating jazz bandleaders, and marrying a Jewish man. In time, Lady Mary bobbed her hair, donned drop-waisted dresses that showed off her boyish figure, and rejected riding side-saddle.
The Daily Mail is calling it the Downton Abbey Effect, and it is not limited to the U.K. either. Americans are also embracing the Downton Abbey phenomenon. When the show started in 2010, certain names were doomed to obscurity, but they have gotten a shot in the arm from the costume drama sweeping the world. It’s hard to imagine that Elsie, the given name of Mrs. Hughes, would have made a comeback otherwise.
“And highest of all was Elsie, the Christian name of housekeeper Mrs Hughes, which has rocketed into the thousands in just five years. Nearly 1,200 babies took the name last year compared to 535 in 2010.”
Dr. Fin Williams, the founder of Parents Perspective out of Devon, is not surprised that what’s old is new again, thanks at least in part to the Masterpiece series Downton Abbey.
“We pick up our preferences for names based on who we are surrounded by but also our experiences of TV characters who have that name.We are less likely to name our children after someone who we feel hasn’t got a very nice character, and more likely to name them after somebody we aspire to.”
Nameberry says that flower names are definitely getting a boost from Downton Abbey, and it starts with the name of the Dowager Countess, Lady Violet Crawley, played to perfection by Dame Maggie Smith.
Violet is a Latin name, which means purple, at least on the surface.
“Violet is soft and sweet but far from shrinking. The Victorian Violet, one of the prettiest of the color and flower names, was chosen by high-profile parents Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck, definitely a factor in its rapid climb to popularity; it is one of the Top 5 most-searched names on nameberry. Violet is now solidly in the US Top 70.”
But Violet has had surges in history and literature over the course of history.
“Violet is a particular favorite of both children’s book authors and Hollywood celebs– Violet Baudelaire in Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events, Violet Beauregarde in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and also Violet Parr in the animated film The Incredibles; other well-known Violet moms and dads include Emily Robison, Christina Milian, Poppy Montgomery, Nathan Followill, Balthazar Getty and Dave Grohl.”
AppellationMountain, where every name has a story, recently highlighted the name Marigold and its Downton Abbey connection. Who would have thought that Marigold also had biblical undertones.
“And yet Marigold is, in a subtle way, a spiritual name, too. It’s a contraction of the phrase ‘Mary’s gold.’ While the Virgin Mary was poor as a church mouse in life, the golden flowers have long been associated with the saint. There’s even a great legend about Mary being accosted by a gang of thieves. When they opened her purse, marigolds fell out instead of coins.”
And in a nod to history, maybe Julian Fellowes and Lady Edith also wanted to provide an ode to Winston Churchill?
“Winston Churchill and wife Clementine gave the name Marigold Frances to their fourth child, born just days after the end of World War I. Unfortunately, Marigold died of an illness when she was just three. Lucy Maud Montgomery penned Magic for Marigold in 1929. Her Marigold was a well-to-do farmgirl named after an aunt. The story details Marigold’s experiences growing up.”
But there is no discounting the impact that Marigold will have on the plot of Downton Abbey and on the name popularity.
“If you’re watching Season Five of Downton Abbey, there’s another little Marigold that will come to mind: Lady Edith’s secret daughter.There’s no reason given for the choice of the name – at least, not yet. But it’s the kind of profile-raising exposure that could have more and more parents considering the name for their daughters.”
Some might think it is a coincidence that so many flower names were used in Downton Abbey by Julian Fellowes, but it was a Victorian trend of the day.
So here is to the Roses, the Violets, the Daisys, and the Marigolds, not to mention the Lilys and the Camelias.
What is your favorite Downton Abbey name?
[Photo by Tim Whitby/Getty Images]