28th August - 27th October 2022

Crowning Glory - The Story of Tiaras

This exhibition, timed for the national celebration of HM the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee year, traced the history of glamorous jewellery through the exquisite costume jewellery collection made by designer Andrew Prince for historic films and television series.

Andrew Prince has created jewellery for stage and screen, including many of the opulent pieces worn by the main characters in the acclaimed television series Downton Abbey and the 2019 film of the same name (Carnival Films and Focus Features), as well as for the cast of The Young Victoria, Mrs Henderson Presents, Muppets Most Wanted (Miss Piggy) and for celebrities including Michael Jackson and Shirley Bassey.

An extensive selection of these exquisite costume jewellery pieces, from tiaras to chokers, earrings and necklaces, created for and worn in these productions, were on show at Firle Place as part of Crowning Glory.

The historic room settings of Firle Place served as the perfect period backdrop for this glittering exhibition about the enduring appeal, opulence and romance of the tiara.

Lady Desborough and the Gage Family

Since Sir John Gage (1479-1556) built his Tudor manor house at Firle, the family have enjoyed connections with the monarchy through the centuries. The exhibition will open with a display of the Coronation raiment worn by members of the Gage family including Imogen 6th Viscountess Gage, mother of the current Lord Gage. Her mother, Lady Desborough (Ettie, 1867-1952), was a leading Edwardian society hostess, Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Mary, and friend to six Prime Ministers including Churchill. Many of the celebrated works of art at Firle Place originate from the Cowper collection and came to Firle thorough inheritance from Ettie to her daughter Imogen, 6th Viscountess Gage.


Talks to accompany the Exhibition

A series of talks to complement the exhibition will run in the Autumn led by jewellery designer and popular lecturer Andrew Prince, who gives fascinating insights into the heritage and social dynamics behind his faux creations.

Thursday 8th September, 2.00pm – From Downton to Gatsby with Andrew Prince
Downton to Gatsby explores an extraordinary era from 1890 to 1929 when great fashion couturiers collaborated with the finest of craftsmen to produce creations of outstanding quality and glittering opulence. As well as studying the creative skills involved, this lecture also introduces the clients and patrons who commissioned these fabulous jewels, and shows how they were worn with sumptuous gowns.
Tickets: £35 pp to include tea/coffee

Thursday 29th September, 2.00pm – The Glamour Years with Andrew Prince
With increased leisure time, advertisers were persuading us to enjoy ourselves and indulge in the finer things in life. The ultimate glamorous lifestyle was portrayed on the silver screen, but how did the likes of Marlene Dietrich and Grace Kelly influence the great designers?
Tickets: £35 pp to include tea/coffee

Thursday 20th October, 2.00pm – Royal Jewels and the American Heiress with Andrew Prince
Following the turbulent political period between 1870 and 1929, and the collapse of the Russian and European monarchies, many glorious art and jewel collections were looted or sold. But as the great families of Russia and Europe foundered, the power and wealth of America soared. Its new millionaires were intent on creating palaces of their own. These fabulously wealthy heiresses married into the British aristocracy, bringing many of their newly acquired treasures with them.
Tickets: £35 pp to include tea/coffee