The Cooperative Center for Study Abroad, which is housed at Belmont, offered “The Road to Downton Abbey: The English Country House in Fact & Fiction” class in London for the first time this summer, taught by Belmont faculty member Dr. Doug Murray. 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,” E. M. Foster’s “Howard’s End” and Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice.”
Another site the class visited was Austen’s brother’s Chawton 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 the responsible use of wealth as well as reminders of social satisfaction and injustice.
“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,” said senior Katie Mulrain. “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.”