Downton Abbey, Anyone?

Weekend before last, Downton Abbey concluded its third season. The PBS Masterpiece Classic has become widely popular since it first aired in the US in 2011. The show is set in England and follows the fictional Crawley family and its house staff through many happy moments and tribulations from 1912 to 1921. The costume design that features late Edwardian fashion has been highly touted.
During the time span of the show, there have been a number of weddings. This wedding dress from 1913 that is in the Costume and Textiles collection here at the Valentine is similar to the ones seen on the show. This dress features off-white silk floral weave damask, a stand up collar, and pearl beading.

Gift of Mrs. C.W. Atkinson

The Downton Abbey house staff makes up a huge portion of the show’s storyline. Although their uniforms are typically plain black paired with an apron, it does not mean that they cannot make an impression. This servant’s dress from circa 1915 is made of black silk taffeta.

Season two centered on World War I and its impact on the Crawley family. Some of the main male characters, from the family and staff, fought in the war for the British. Here is a captain’s jacket from 1917 worn by captains in the U.S. Army. It is made from green worsted wool and includes a U.S. Army office pin and 331st rifleman infantry pin.

Gift of Mrs. Edward T. Lane

The men of the family were not the only ones to take part in the Great War. One of the Crawley sisters joined the Voluntary Aid Detachment that provided field nursing services. Here is a 1918 Red Cross cotton overall featuring a V-neck with a red cross sewn at the V of the neck.

Gift of Estate of Mrs. John A. Flippe through her niece, Miss E. T. Howerton

Vera Magdeeva
Costumes & Textiles Intern
Valentine Richmond History Center