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Mokena library offers ‘Downton Abbey’ insight

Updated: June 27, 2013 11:01AM



The Mokena Community Public Library recently hosted “The Making of Downton Abbey,” presented by Barbara Geiger, a landscape historian.

Geiger explained how actual English estates like the fictional Downton Abbey came to be, the threats they faced, and what the future might hold for the Crawley family and their servants.

She also spoke about the landscape designers, land ownership patterns and inheritance laws that produced great estates like Downton, and why radical changes were inevitable.

The soap opera began hundreds of years before the character of Edith wrote her letter to the Turkish ambassador, yet the aristocratic way of life that had evolved at places like Downton Abbey was nearly ruined by the time the audience meets the Crawleys in 1912. Geiger explained how a few families came to own so much English property, why Robert’s family needed him to marry an heiress such as Cora and why places like Downton Abbey (Highclere Castle in real life) look the way they do.

Geiger is a landscape historian who specializes in late 19th and early 20th century places, including English estates. She teaches in the College of Architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, the Chicago Botanic Garden, and the University of Chicago Graham School. Geiger also lectures on international tours for the Art Institute of Chicago.

For more information, email Barbara@barbarageiger.net.

Staff report



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