Downton Abbey program draws crowd at Toms River Library

Many fans of the popular British TV series “Downton Abbey” attended a Jan. 24 program featuring author Jessica Fellowes, in period attire. The series which airs on PBS Masterpiece is set in the year 1924. The Ocean County Library is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year having formed in September of 1925. You can view more photos from the event here

More than 200 people attended a program devoted to the popular PBS drama series “Downton Abbey” on Jan. 24 at the township branch of the Ocean County Library.

The event featured author Jessica Fellowes, the niece of Lord Julian Fellowes, creator and writer of the popular British show. The program served as a fundraiser for the Friends of the Ocean County Library, a group which assists the library system with programs and improvement projects.

“Downton Abbey”, currently airing its fifth season on local PBS stations, is an Emmy-award winning show currently set in 1924 England focuses on the wealthy owners and staff of the fictional Yorkshire country house Downton Abbey.

The first season’s episodes opened at the end of the Edwardian era in 1912 with news of the family heir’s death aboard the RMS Titanic. The fourth series covers the six-month period between February and August 1922. The fifth season debuted on PBS’ Masterpiece Sunday on Jan. 4.

Jessica Fellowes, author of three Downton Abbey Companion Books spoke to fans and signed autographs during her well received appearance.

Her latest book, “A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions and Recipes,” was released on Oct. 28, 2014. The book features behind-the-scenes details, sumptuous on-set photographs, historical recipes, seasonal celebrations and traditions.

During her program she shared some behind the scenes stories of the production of the show along with a review of characters and plotlines. She said several storylines and characters were inspired by her family.

During a slide show featuring photos and scenes from the show Fellowes said that actor Robert James-Collier who portrays the scheming valet Thomas Barrow “could not be more different than his character. He has great wit and is so nice.’’

She also noted that actress Maggie Smith who plays the matriarch of the family, Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham has little patience for being in the makeup chair. “The makeup staff made her a kind of helmet wig so she doesn’t have to spend too much time in the makeup chair.”

The event included a book signing by Fellowes as well as an author reception, light refreshments, and priority seating during her presentation. A number of attendees and library system staff attended the event wearing period dress.

“The Ocean County Library is so very appreciative of all the hard work our branch Friends groups do all year to support us,” said Ocean County Library Assistant Director Valerie Bell. “For this special fundraiser our entire branch Friends groups came together to make this event possible.” Bell noted that the Ocean County Library system is currently celebrating its 90th anniversary having been founded in September 1925.

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