THE audience at the opening night of the Downton Abbey film at the Regent Centre, Christchurch, enjoyed a real treat. They were greeted by a line-up of classic cars including a Rolls Royce that once belonged to the great architect Sir Edwin Lutyens.
With 52 screenings programmed through to 10th October – and more than 2,500 tickets already sold – at the 1931 Art Deco cinema and theatre, the Regent staff are certainly expecting the Downton effect to be dramatic!
There were five Austin cars of the era ranging in age from 1925 – 1932 but at centre stage was the magnificent 1925 Rolls Royce 20HP limousine in royal blue, owned by the Regent Centre’s chairman, Gary Trinder.
It’s a car fit for the great Dowager Countess of Grantham, (aka Dame Maggie Smith) who would surely have approved, albeit with one of her waspish but witty one liners.
Its illustrious former owners include two of the UK’s most famous architects – Sir Edwin Lutyens, whose creations include the Cenotaph in Whitehall, Castle Drogo in Devon and many of the administrative buildings in New Delhi; and Oliver Hill, who was mentored by Lutyens, whose crowning glory is the UK’s finest Art Deco hotel, the fabulous Midland Hotel in Morecambe.
Both Lutyens and Hill were responsible for a number of magnificent picture palaces throughout Britain and so their Rolls Royce will feel right at home outside the Regent for the opening night of Downton Abbey.
Pictured: A Rolls Royce fit for the Dowager Countess, Jim Carter as Mr Carson, and the cast of the Downton Abbey film.