'Downton Abbey' Comes to Frankfort

The Frankfort Public Library will host a lecture this week on the historical background of the PBS hit.

The Dowager Countess, the Earl of Grantham and the rest of the cast of Masterpiece Classic’s smash hit, “Downton Abbey,” have returned to PBS for a new season of society and scandal.

The Frankfort Public Library is hosting a lecture on  this Wednesday.

“‘Downton Abbey’ has been a fan favorite around here for a long time,” said Melissa Rice, head of adult services for the library.

The lecture will be given by landscape historian Barbara Geiger, who will discuss the politics and legalities of English land ownership, which, in some cases, serve as the catalyst for the show’s central plot points.

Geiger, who specializes in turn-of-the-century places, will examine how families such as the Crawleys came to own so much land, as well as the property-related challenges that accompanied extensive land ownership in the early 20th century.

For those who have found themselves wondering how realistic the events on the show are, Geiger offered her insights regarding the historical accuracy of “Downton Abbey.”

“Some parts of it are quite accurate and other parts are not,” she said.

Despite being approximately 1,000 acres, the estate on which the show is filmed is actually relatively small. Geiger said that if the Crawley’s had been a real aristocratic family, their estate would have been much larger.

The staff would have been more extensive as well — Downton would have employed three to four times more workers than the number of servant characters on the show.

And although “Downton Abbey” is dramatic, and occasionally soap operatic, Geiger says that the Crawley family is morally immaculate compared to noble families of the period. According to Geiger, relatively few romantic trysts occur in the world of “Downton” when measured against the social indiscretions committed by the actual English aristocracy.

Geiger’s lecture will begin at 7 p.m. on Jan. 9. The event is free, but attendees must call the library ahead of time to reserve a seat at 815-469-2423.

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