Jay Heritage Center Hosting Downton Abbey Talk


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Downtown Abbey at Jay Heritage CenterWhether you love learning about period homes or just can’t wait for Downton Abbey Season 4 to start (January 5, 2014) join the Jay Heritage Center and learn more about the architectural and cultural history of Highclere with Curt DiCamillo, a noted authority on British country estates.

In 1836, Peter Augustus Jay and his wife Mary Rutherfurd Clarkson took down the battered 1745 farmhouse that had long been the original country seat of the Jay family. The soaring Greek Revival mansion that took its place was meticulously planned in the “English stile” which Peter and Mary would have seen during trips to Europe.

Similarly in 1838, the Carnarvon family chose to make dramatic changes to their ancestral home inviting architect Sir Charles Barry to reimagine a new Highclere Castle for future generations. Little did anyone know then that the splendor of Barry’s work would find a global following on PBS.

Although famous today as the country house depicted in the television series Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle in Berkshire has a rich and fascinating history that goes far beyond its television fame. Home since 1672 of the Herbert family, later Earls of Carnarvon, the English Renaissance Revival house seen today is also famous as the home of the 5th Earl, who financed the 1922 expedition that discovered the tomb of King Tut (the Earl’s sudden death, after discovering the tomb, led to the legend of “the Curse of the Mummy”). The 5th Earl’s wife, Lady Almina, the illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild, also brought great prominence to Highclere. Through the generosity of her natural father (one of the richest men in late 19th century England), she was a pioneer of military hospitals and set standards of care that are still followed today.

Architectural historian Curt DiCamillo will explore Highclere Castle, linking it to other Victorian country houses, and explain how the fictional Downton plotline has unexpected echoes to Highclere’s history. Curt brings years of insight to his presentation through his expertise as Executive Director of the National Trust for Scotland and work at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. He is a member of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain and an alumnus of the Royal Collection Studies Program and the Attingham Summer School for the Study of Country Houses. In addition he is a Fellow of the Massachusetts Historical Society and a Trustee of Boston’s Nichols House Museum..

$10 per person. Free for Jay Heritage Center.  The lecture will be followed by Q & A and refreshments.  To reserve your seat contact Barbara Specht at jayheritagecenter@gmail.com or call (914) 698-9275.

Jay Heritage Center is located at 210 Boston Post Road, in Rye, NY.

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