"Downton Abbey" Comes to Asheville

"Downton Abbey" Comes to Asheville
Biltmore exhibition to feature costumes, stories

Lord and Lady Grantham of Downton Abbey,
photo courtesy of PBS.
Fans of the popular television show Downton Abbey may already have recognized the connections between the turn-of-the-century estate depicted in the PBS series and the very real lives lived by George W. Vanderbilt and his household at Biltmore.

Next year, the worlds of Downton and Biltmore will come together with a new exhibition, “Dressing Downton: Changing Fashion for Changing Times,” opening February 5 and continuing through Memorial Day, May 25, 2015. The exhibition will feature more than 40 costumes from the series, showcased in rooms throughout Biltmore House.

The staff of Downton Abbey, photo courtesy of PBS.
Although Downton Abbey is fictional, the show depicts an era of great change. The period costumes in the exhibition act as a window into history beginning in 1912 with the sinking of the Titanic, moving into the tumultuous years of World War I, and finally through the dawn of the Jazz Age in the early 1920s. The waves of social change felt abroad also had lasting impact on the Vanderbilts, their servants, and Biltmore as a whole.

Themes in the exhibition include the evolution of fashion, the nuances of etiquette and the changing roles of women. The exhibition will also explore the life of service staff, including the British citizens who worked at Biltmore. New stories will be shared about George Vanderbilt, his wife Edith, and their daughter Cornelia, who lived in the 250-room Biltmore House.

Admission to the exhibition is included in the price of regular estate ticket purchases. Tickets will be on sale in early July. Complementing the exhibition will be a series of estate-wide special events at Biltmore to be announced at a later date.

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