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Feb 18

A Downton Abbey Backstory: English Architecture and World War One

Last night millions of Americans tuned in to watch the season finale of the wildly successful British period drama Downton Abbey, which closed the latest chapter on the aristocratic Crawley family and set the stage for what should be a drama and tension-filled Season 4. (Be warned– major spoilers on what happened last night here and what to expect from the show’s future here.)

One of the overarching themes of the show follows the uncertain future of manor houses like Highclere Castle in Hampshire–the real life castle where Downton Abbey is set–in the period after World War One and leading up to World War Two when British society began to experience rapid change.

In the following lecture from Gresham College, Simon Thurley discusses how architects struggled to meet the needs and aspirations of a society while negotiating deep and popular traditions and beliefs. Thurley is serves as Chief Executive of English Heritage, an organization that aims to protect and promote England’s historic environment.

Simon Thurley: English Architecture and World War One from Gresham College on FORA.tv

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