Cragside to host events giving a taste of the Downton Abbey life
PUBLISHED: 11:56 03 May 2012 | UPDATED: 21:22 20 February 2013
Visitors to a Northumberland mansion will this month be given a flavour of how life was for the real inhabitants of Downton Abbey both upstairs and downstairs.
Visitors to a Northumberland mansion will this month be given a flavour of how life was for the real inhabitants of Downton Abbey both upstairs and downstairs. A series of special events will bring to life the stories of the people who lived and worked at Cragside.
The Victorian mansion the first house in the world to be lit by hydroelectric power was known in the 1880s as the palace of the modern magician and visitors this month will see how entrepreneur William Armstrongs home was run.
Every Thursday actors at the house, which is now run by the National Trust, will play out scenes from everyday life and Katherine Williamson, house steward said: Visitors will encounter the people who lived and worked here, going about their lives. It will be like stepping back in time.
You will re-live meetings between Armstrong and Joseph Swan discussing their developments for the electric light bulb, you will encounter Joseph Grey, the butler, requesting an electric light to be supplied to the house later that evening, you will meet the cook, Jane Elliott, planning her evening dinner menus in the kitchen and discussing suitable wines with the butler.
The idea grew out of an event at the house last year which invited local people who had a family link to Cragside to share their memories.
Katherine added: About 20 people came forward with pictures, family trees and memories of their ancestors who had worked at Cragside, including a lady relative of Armstrongs footman.
We discovered that his name was James McDougle and through his family tree found out that he had a family link to Andrew Crozier, who was in service to three generations of Armstrongs. We have always had a footmans uniform in our collection but were never put a face to the owners name until now.
And following the memory sharing event, a selection of items highlighting the lives of servants at Cragside is also now on show. The exhibition includes the original footmans outfit belonging to James McDougle as well as a Victorian recipe for brown bread ice cream, served to Cragsides Royal guests in 1884 and close up photographs of original parts of the servants tower.
Make a date
Actors will be at Cragside each Thursday in May when the house is open from 1-5pm with the last admission at 4pm. For more information go to www.nationaltrust.org.uk/events or contact Cragside on 01669 620333.
The print version of this article appeared in the May 2012 issue of North East Life
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