Thursday, February 4, 2016

Jessica Fellowes at McAninch Arts Center

Our road trip had already been so much fun, but the best was waiting to happen. We hurried from Naperville back to College of DuPage campus where the Mac [McAninch Arts Center] is located for the two presentations that were our reason for going to Chicago.

At 2:00 p.m. there was a pre-show chat with Kathy Baum, the jewelry professor at the college who shared insights on 1800's and 1900's jewelry and artistry, the era surrounding Downton Abbey. The large room was filled with standing room only.  Ms. Baum talked about the significance of family tiaras and how they represented "old money" since they stayed within families and were passed down from generation to generation.

The Georgian Diamond Floral Tiara that Lady Mary and Lady Edith wore on their wedding day is pictured below, and it's currently for sale by Bently and Skinner for $183,755.62 in case anyone's interested in purchasing it!  ;-) 

Ms. Baum talked about Sautoir Necklaces that Lady Cora, Lady Mary and Lady Edith have worn.

The photo below shows Lady Cora presenting Lady Rose at Court where she was required to wear a head dress of three white Prince-of-Wales ostrich feathers attached to a tulle veil. 

'Dog Collar' necklaces were popularized by Queen Alexandra, and Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, is often seen wearing them.

~ Question and Answer segment ~

At the conclusion of the 'chat', Linda and I had our picture taken with Ms. Baum.

Then it was time for the main event in Belushi Performance Hall at 3:00 p.m. with Jessica Fellowes, niece of Downton Abbey creator and scriptwriter, Julian Fellowes.

Jessica is a prolific writer and her Downton Abbey companion books have not only become number one best sellers, but they've made her an in-demand speaker, both in England as well as the United States.

Belushi Performance Hall seats 800 and it was filled to capacity.

Jessica was delightful!  Her first words when she came on stage were, "I'm not responsible for Matthew dying!" But she added, "Fans were actually more upset when Lord Grantham's dog, Isis, died than when Matthew died."  She promised she'd have us out in time to watch episode 5 on TV, and gave us one spoiler - Lady Mary and Tom Branson will not become romantically involved before the season ends.

She shared personal highlights such as there are four brothers in the Fellowes family and Julian is Jessica's father's youngest brother.

Lady Mary's young son, George, was named after Jessica's son, who is now five years old.

She discussed highlights from upstairs and well as below stairs.  Cora was the first character to be developed, and the inspiration for the series came when Julian read the book, To Marry An English Lord.

Violet's character was based on Julian's Aunt Ivy.

Jessica attributed the success of the series to the fact that it's basically about family - the Crawley family as well as the sense of family that exists below stairs, and the commitment the Crawley's have toward their service staff.

She confirmed that her Uncle Julian's NBC's Gilded Age series [an 1880's fictional epic of NYC millionaires] will be a reality, and that he's very interested in writing the script for a Downton Abbey movie.  

A question and answer period followed her presentation.  When one young man stepped up to the microphone she said,"It's 'jolly nice' to see a young man in attendance!"

There were English treats - scones with lemon curd, and finger desserts - in the lobby after the show, as well as a book signing.  They completely sold out of Jessica's books before the show, so the line was very long, but she stayed until every book was signed.  

I have the five books written about Downton Abbey, but I purchased The Wit and Wisdom of Downton Abbey for her to sign.

~ As you can see, she's very pretty. ~

We couldn't leave without getting a picture with her. When my hubby saw the picture he commented that my 1920's cloche hat looked like a helmet.  My immediate thought was, "Well that's the last time I'll be wearing that hat!"  But as I was working on my research for this coming Saturday's hat presentation for the Northville Historical Society, I read that the cloche hugged the head 'like a helmet', with a very small brim.  So I guess I won't pitch it after all! ;-)

[L-R:  Linda, Me, Jessica]

What a wonderful, action-packed day, and it wasn't over yet, because we went back to our hotel room and watched episode 5 on TV - more on that tomorrow...


  1. What a fun day - and I love your hat!

  2. I'll have to pay attention to events like this in my area - I would have loved both of those talks! How delightful!

  3. Would love to have been there! I checked her website for other events and she was in Texas (Austin) last year. Missed it! I did get to see Lady Carnarvon last April when she came for Tyler's Rose Festival Ladies Luncheon and I enjoyed it so much. It had a tea theme and we were given heart shaped tea infusers as souvenirs.

  4. I think you look wonderfully Downton in your cloche!


Thank you for visiting my blog. If you would like to leave a comment, I'd love to hear from you!