Althorp, photo by Curt DiCamillo

Downton Abbey Lecture Series



Lecture: “Jewels of Scandal and Desire: British Jewelry Collections and Country Houses”

Tuesday, June 10

6:00 pm, Copeland Lecture Hall

Historian Curt DiCamillo explores how the 18th- and 19th-century British ruling classes, modeling themselves on the ancient Roman Empire, used dazzling jewels to reinforce their positions in society. $5 per Member. $15 per nonmember.

Gossard corset ad (detail), The New Ladies' Home Journal, April 15, 1916.


Lunchtime Lecture Series: Downton Within, Downton Beyond

12:15–1:15 pm,  Copeland Lecture Hall

Our series of lectures offers an opportunity to consider the artful presentation of television fiction as well as the varying histories, values, issues, and clothing of Downton Abbey's evolving eras.  Members free. Included with admission.

May 15
“Downton Undressed: Underwear and the Fashionable Ideal in the Teens and Twenties.”
H. Kristina Haugland, The Le Vine Associate Curator of Costume and Textiles and Supervising Curator for the Study Room, Dorrance H. Hamilton Center for Costume and Textiles, Philadelphia Museum of Art, explores feminine undergarments and attitudes behind the revolutionary shift from Edwardian to modern aesthetics.

June 19
"From Downton Ladies to Modern Flappers: Fashion and Women’s Liberation in the Roaring Twenties"

Einav Rabinovitch-Fox, Ph.D., New York University,  will examine the relationship between fashion and feminist ideas regarding women’s freedom and sexuality as they were reflected in the image of the flapper. Focusing on the characters of Lady Edith and Lady Rose, the talk explores how 1920s fashions became a means for both expressing and negotiating women’s new political, social, and sexual position in the interwar period.



Tom Savage, Director of Museum Affairs
Meg Lukens Noonan photo by Mark Bennington

July 10
English Goods Were Ever the Best: British Imported Furniture for the South

In the film Williamsburg, The Story of a Patriot, Madam Fry makes the now oft-quoted pronouncement “English goods were ever the best.” How widespread was Madam Fry’s conviction in early America and why is this topic a frequently overlooked area of American material culture studies? This lecture with Tom Savage, director of Museum Affairs, Winterthur, will look at surviving examples and contemporary documents to re-examine the place of British imported furniture in the Tidewater and low country. The influence of British imports on local production as well as the role of the factor will be discussed.




July 17
"Uncloaking the Insular World of Bespoke"
Downton Abbey-era gentlemen wore bespoke (custom made) clothing, handcrafted by highly skilled tailors. Thanks in part to the show’s popularity, the centuries-old bespoke trade is alive and well on London's famed Savile Row and in other major cities. Meg Lukens Noonan, author of The Coat Route: Craft, Luxury and Obsession on the Trail of a $50,000 Coat, demystifies the clubby world of bespoke tailoring, provides a window into the culture that covets it and recounts her round-the-world quest to deconstruct the making of one fabulous—and fabulously expensive—hand-tailored vicuna overcoat.

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