Thursday, January 10, 2013

Downton Abbey: Have tea like you live in the Gilded Age

WALLINGFORD - The Wallingford Historic Preservation Trust will hold  "A Downton Abbey Afternoon Tea and Special Illustrated Lecture" at 1 p.m. Feb. 9 the Stillwood Inn, 1074 South Colony St.  
The event will celebrate Season 3 of "Downton Abbey," according to a statement.
"For those unfamiliar with the globally successful television show, Downton Abbey chronicles the fictional inhabitants of a magnificent stately home in the English countryside at a critical time in world history," the release said. "Lord Grantham has inherited the family estate, but not enough cash to restore or maintain it; thus, he marries-for money at least initially -the beautiful Lady Cora, an American heiress."
The Trust will serve Afternoon Tea from 1 to 2:30 p.m., "in the English style," the release said.
 "In addition to wonderfully brewed hot tea, other fare will include assorted scones, tea sandwiches, tea cakes, pinwheels, petitfores, elegant pastries, and other sweets," the release said.
The cost is $25 per person.
Tickets must be purchased in advance, by cash or check, in person at Wallingford Lamp and Shade, 124 Center St. Wallingford 
Wallingford Lamp and Shade is open Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturdays 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., the release said.  The number there is 203-269-2177.
 As seating is limited, anyone interested in attending is urged to buy tickets soon, as it is anticipated the event will sell out quickly, the release said.
Proceeds from the tea benefit the restoration of the Nehemiah Royce House on North Main Street and the Franklin Johnson Mansion\American Silver Museum on South Main Street, historic properties in Wallingford owned by the Trust, the release said.
Following the tea, at 230 p.m. at the Stillwood Inn, a special illustrated presentation will be given by British author Anne Sebba (shown in photo) on "A Real Life Downton Abbey: The Life and Times of Jennie Jerome Churchill - Dollar Princess, Seductress, Mother," the release said. 
The lecture is free.
"While Lady Cora in Downton Abbey is a fictional creation, she is partly based on Jennie Jerome Churchill (1854-1921), who was often said to have been the first dollar princess. Jennie’s marriage to Lord Randolph Churchill in 1874 encouraged hundreds of ambitious American mothers, hoping an exchange of dollars could buy their daughters a titled, if unhappy, marriage," the release said.
"From the Gilded Age until 1914, more than one hundred such American heiresses married into the British aristocracy, most of them unhappily, living out the social ambitions of their parents. Just as Jennie’s father Leonard Jerome argued with the Duke of Marlborough about the size of the financial settlement he was prepared to hand over to his future son-in-law, he told his daughter Jennie that, in spite of the haggling, he was thrilled by her imminent marriage."
Also from the release:
But, as Sebba will show in her illustrated Powerpoint talk, the marriage caused Jennie deep pain and misery. Although rumored to have had 200 lovers, including Bertie, Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) , Jennie’s chief solace was her first born son, Winston Churchill (1874-1965), British Prime Minister during World War II, whose American heritage proved critical in the battle to come.
"They say that the Transatlantic Alliance, between Great Britain and the United States, started under Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt,” says Trust president Jerry Farrell, Jr., “but its roots may lie much deeper, in Winston Churchill having an American mother whose family had roots in Wallingford - grandparents and cousins (including Moses Y. Beach) lived in Wallingford.”

These events are not associated with the production company or directors of Downton Abbey.

Editor's note: All information in this post was contributed.


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