Dr. Doug Murray, Professor of English, led a London study abroad trip entitled, “The Road to Downton Abbey: The English Country House in Fact & Fiction” for the first time this summer. The class read poems and novels centering on country houses while touring some of the most famous ones found in literature. This literature included Ian McEwan’s “Atonement” and Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
Among the sites the class visited were Chawton House, owned by Jane Austen’s brother, and Highclere Castle, where the “Downton Abbey” TV series is filmed. The series follows the fortunes of the fictional Grantham family, hereditary owners of Downton Abbey. This series is the most recent chapter in a conversation about the stately homes of England, places which have been depicted as sites of hospitality, beauty, and wealth as well as reminders of social satisfaction and injustice.
One student in the class, Hallie Caddy, captured her experiences in a blog that can be found here: http://myloveaffairwithlondon.blogspot.com/
About the class, senior Katie Mulrai noted: “Taking the Road to Downton Abbey class was my neatest collegiate experience to date. It was amazing to visit the various country houses of England while studying them. We were so lucky to be able to visit Highclere Castle where the show was filmed, as tickets are sold out throughout the next year.”