Saturday, February 3, 2018

The Gilded Age is coming in 2019 and we are so ready!

We've been waiting for the Gilded Age for quite some time.

"The Gilded Age" is coming in 2019 and we are so ready! In fact, we've been immersed in this fascinating time period for the past several years in our travels, reading, and, yes, even attire.

According to last Thursday's edition of the New York Times ("The Gilded Age, a Downton Abbey Follow-up. . ."),  Julian Fellows, writer and creator of Downton Abbey, has a new show coming to NBC in 2019. It's a ten-part series set in New York in the 1880's: an era where the nouveau riche began to infiltrate the long-established old money society.  

Marble House in Newport. The family cottage.

The story will follow the fictional family of George Russell, railroad tycoon and his ambitious wife, Bertha, as noted in Country Living last week. 

The Gilded Age saw many new-money families break into society, where barriers to entry were high and controlled with a tight fist by Caroline Astor.  In many "cash-for-class" transactions, rich upstarts would marry off their daughters to Lords across the pond. Seen as a win/win for both sides, the newly minted millionaires would get a title in the family, thus bumping up their social status, and the  strapped-for-cash aristocrats would get an infusion of American dollars to maintain their lavish estates.

Rachel at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey. Cora and her money were very attractive.

If this is ringing as many bells as the downstairs corridor of Downton Abbey, you're remembering this is the story of Lady Crawley (nee Cora Levinson).  It was the Levinson family money that saved Downton Abbey when Cora and Lord Grantham were betrothed. Eventually, though, their story was a happy one, in that love reigned supreme.

Alva Vanderbilt's portrait at Marble House. Is she the inspiration for Bertha Russell?

However, not all "Dollar Princesses" like Cora Levinson fared so well. The real-life story of Conseulo Vanderbilt proved not all such arrangements were happy.  At the unyielding domination of her mother, Alva, Conseulo was forced to marry the Duke of Marlborough and whisked from her comfortable life in New York and Newport, to Blenheim Castle, one of the largest "homes" in England. The castle was impressive, but in much disrepair as was the relationship from the get-go. Both bride and groom gave up their true loves for an arranged marriage that benefited only their families.

The room at Marble House where the Duke proposed to Conseulo

Over the last few years, we've followed Conseulo's journey, visiting the Vanderbilt estates in New York and Asheville (her uncles' abodes), as well as the family "cottage", Marble House in Newport. It was here that Lord Marlborough proposed to Conseulo.

Hyde Park NY, home of Consuelo's uncle

In May, we'll continue the saga when we visit Bleheim Castle. To be sure, we'll be writing up more on the Gilded Age this year, so stay tuned! (We'll also pick up some of the unfinished blog stories from our Newport trip in 2016).

We've also ordered a new Gilded Age dress and pair of gloves, so our wardrobe will readily challenge any closet of the Gilded Age American Heiresses who shopped at Mr. Worth's (well, close enough).

We can't wait until 2019 for The Gilded Age to begin. We've been ready for quite some time.

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