Monday, March 26, 2012

Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle as Downton Abbey

I am drawn to Downton Abbey, the BBC Masterpiece Classic, for the same reasons I love Vizcaya.

There is a recent article with PreservationNation that talks about the  "A Pull of Place". I am constantly thinking about how life flowed at Vizcaya during both the building and the enjoyment phases. I think about what Vizcaya has been to so many people since becoming a Museum, engagements, weddings, school groups and Quinceañera.

It is particularly intriguing to think about the fact that the Downton Abbey begin's it's story in the same time period when Vizcaya was being built, 1912. The dress, the customs, and the events of the world would be very similar to what James Deering was living. I am sure Mr. Deering knew some of the people mentioned. Downton Abbey dialog about the Titanic in the first episode mentions the Astors, a member of the Astor family, Robert Winthrop Chanler, created the mural covering the walls and ceiling of the pool grotto at Vizcaya.

Vizcaya's Pool Grotto
Robert Winthrop Chandler, artist of Pool Grotto Wall and Ceiling Mural

It is hard to think of Vizcaya in this time period because the house was designed to look like it was 400 years old and the most of the furnishings was already antique when they were acquired for Vizcaya.

Music Room

The clothes in Downton Abbey is fascinating. I love watching the transition from 1912 through WWI and the reflection of the times and the mood of the country. I wonder if we will start seeing today's fashions influenced by Downton Abbey and the beautiful glamour of the Edwardian period.

Architectural Digest has several articles about Highclere Castle. Owners of Highclere and similar estates talk about what it takes to keep an estate together. Vizcaya as all museum houses constantly works on funding and maintenance. We are currently beginning the replacement of the court yards glass dome.

The couture, the romance, the location, the drama, and the history are all interesting and yet for me it's glimpses of the house and how it was lived in, worked in, entertained in that enthral me.

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