Monthly Archives: January 2016

The Countess of Carnarvon comes to Hill-Stead

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Lord and Lady CarnarvonHill-Stead Museum Announces…an Encore Event with The Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon

Due to overwhelming popularity, Hill-Stead has secured The Countess of Carnarvon for a second speaking engagement in May, this time on the topic of Entertaining at Highclere.

The Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon resides at Highclere Castle, the primary filming location for the Emmy Award-winning PBS television series Downton Abbey. On Friday, May 27, Lady Carnarvon will share stories on entertaining at Highclere, and the Castle’s decor and ongoing restoration. A book signing will follow the event, with copies of Lady Carnarvon’s best-selling books available for purchase.

Hill-Stead Museum is the perfect backdrop for The Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon’s lectures, as her family story and its Downton Abbey references coincide with the life story of Hill-Stead’s founder, Theodate Pope Riddle.

For more information, see Search entertaining The Countess of Carnarvon: Entertaining at Highclere.

Tickets and seating

  • $100 per person.
  • Seating is limited and will be assigned based on the order of purchase.
  • Up to 10 tickets may be purchased with each transaction, and individuals purchasing 10 tickets in a single transaction will be assigned their own table.
  • We will attempt to keep tickets purchased in blocks less than 10 together at the same table, but tickets bought individually will be seated in the order of purchase.
  • Admission to the museum is included in the cost of tickets, and there will be an Open House format for visitors to tour the period rooms from 11 am to 1 pm that day.
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untitledOn Thursday, May 26, The Right Honorable Countess of Carnarvon will be the Guest of Honor at Hill-Stead’s Monet’s Circle patron’s reception, of which she serves as Honorary Chair this year. Following the reception, Lady Carnarvon will attend the museum’s dinner auction gala, Hill-Stead’s largest annual fundraising event. For more information or to purchase tickets to this event, see The Grand Tour Benefit Dinner Auction in our calendar.

The Countess of Carnarvon and the Real Downton Abbey May 25, 2016Highclere Castle is one of England’s most beautiful Victorian castles, set amidst 1,000 acres of spectacular parkland. The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and the current castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which in turn was built on the foundations of the medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for some 800 years.

 Lady Carnarvon is married to George Herbert, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, thus making her the 8th Countess. The Countess has already had a fulfilling career encompassing a number of positions and professions. A former auditor at Coopers & Lybrand, Lady Carnarvon is perfectly suited to run the affairs at Highclere Castle, where she and the Earl of Carnarvon reside. Their guardianship of the estate extends to its grounds, gardens and events.

A celebrated author, Lady Carnarvon has written four books chronicling her family’s history, drawing on a rich store of materials from Highclere Castle’s archives, including diaries, letters, and photographs. The first two books are focused on the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb with Howard Carter in 1922. Through discovery and purchase, Lord Carnarvon amassed one of the most extraordinary Egyptian collections in the world. Following his death in 1923, the collection was sold by his widow to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in order to pay death duties. The Egyptian Exhibition at Highclere Castle celebrates the 5th Earl’s achievements.

Lady Carnarvon’s third book, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere, was a New York Times Bestseller. Lord Julian Fellowes, the writer and creator of Downton Abbey, was moved by the remarkable life of Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and inspiration for Downton Abbey’s Cora Crawley. Lady Carnarvon’s 2013 companion publication, Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey, tells the story of the spirited American woman who marries into the Carnarvon family in the 1920’s.

Tickets are non-refundable

Sketch-a-Still-Life on Monday, February 1st

Sketch-a-Still-Life Featuring Guest Artist Katherine Simmons

LunariaandOrangesFebruary 1, 11 am to 1 pm

Enjoy this rare opportunity to sketch a still life inside the museum alongside a guest artist. Hill-Stead’s curator will select the still life from the museum’s collection on the first Monday of each month. Pencil and kneaded erasers only, please. Supplies are available in the Museum Shop.

This month, join artist Katherine Simmons.

$5 for museum member and students, $15 for non-members.

Please register through this link:

For more information, please see our calendar.

Photo caption:  Lunaria and Oranges, Katherine Simmons.

Announcing the 2016 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival Performers

Current US Poet Laureate to Perform at 2016 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

Hill-Stead Museum is thrilled to announce the 2016 line up for its renowned and highly-anticipated Sunken Garden Poetry Festival.

Poetry2016_logoWednesday, June 22
Heather McHugh
& the Sunken Garden Poetry Chapbook Winner
Sunday, July 10
Brian Turner 
& Doug Anderson
Wednesday, July 20
Edward Hirsch 
& Clare Rossini
Sunday, August 7 
Juan Felipe Herrera, United States Poet Laureate 
& Peg Boyers
Wednesday, August 17
Kwame Dawes 
& Fresh Voices Student Competition Winners

The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival

The Sunken Garden Poetry Festival is a unique outdoor arts event located on the grounds of this National Historic Landmark in the heart of Farmington. Beginning on June 22, the festival presents the first of five performances, scheduled for three Wednesday and two Sunday evening throughout the summer. Adding to the humanities-rich content of the festival, Hill-Stead offers poetry writing workshops prior to all performances. The community cherishes this series of readings and music concerts in the informal outdoor setting of the Hill-Stead estate. Visitors can come early to tour the museum’s world-class Impressionist art collection, walk the trails or attend the pre-performance prelude conversations with the headlining poets.

Festival Schedule

Gates open at 4:30 pm; prelude conversation with headlining poet at 5 pm; opening poet at 6:00 pm; music begins at 6:30 pm; headlining poet begins at 7:15 pm

(August 7th also features a community reading of Latino/Latina poetry at 3 pm)


$12 advanced on-line purchase, $15 at the gate, ages 18 and under free. Parking is free.


Bring a lawn chair or blanket for seating in and around the garden, or join Hill-Stead’s Live Poets Society to receive premier reserved seating. To join Live Poets Society, contact Kirsten Fuchs at 860-677-4787, x181, or visit


Al fresco dining is allowed on the grounds. Festival attendees are welcome to bring their own picnic suppers or purchase food/beverages on site from gourmet food vendors.

Featured Poets

Wednesday, June 22
Heather McGrathHeather McHugh

Heather McHugh is the author of eight volumes of poetry, including Eyeshot, which was shortlisted for the Pulitzer Prize, and Hinge and Sign, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. She is the recipient of the prestigious MacArthur “Genius” Grant, and her work has been recognized by the National Endowment for the Arts, PEN, and the Guggenheim Foundation. She has been a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences since 2006 and is currently the Millman Writer-in-Residence at the University of Washington in Seattle.

Sunday, July 10
Brian TurnerBrian Turner

Brian Turner earned an MFA from the University of Oregon and lived abroad in South Korea for a year before serving for seven years in the U.S. Army. He was deployed to Bosnia-Herzegovina in 1999-2000 with the 10th Mountain Division. Then in November 2003, he was an infantry team leader for a year in Iraq with the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division. His first book, Here, Bullet, chronicles his time in Iraq. Turner has been featured on National Public Radio, the Newshour with Jim Lehrer and the BBC. He has received a NEA Literature Fellowship in Poetry, the Amy Lowell Traveling Fellowship and a fellowship from the Lannan Foundation. Turner has taught English at Fresno City College.

Doug AndersonDoug Anderson

Poet Doug Anderson served as a combat medic in the Vietnam War. He has written about his experiences in the Vietnam War in both poetry and nonfiction. He is the author of the poetry collection The Moon Reflected Fire (1994), the winner of the Kate Tufts Discovery Award; and Blues for Unemployed Secret Police (2000). In 2000 he published his memoir, Keep Your Head Down: Vietnam, the Sixties, and a Journey of Self-Discovery.

Wednesday, July 20
 Ed HirschEdward Hirsch

Edward Hirsch is a celebrated poet and peerless advocate for poetry. He was born in Chicago in 1950—his accent makes it impossible for him to hide his origins—and educated at Grinnell College and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a Ph.D. in Folklore. Edward Hirsch’s first collection of poems, For the Sleepwalkers (1981), received the Delmore Schwartz Memorial Award from New York University and the Lavan Younger Poets Award from the Academy of American Poets. His second collection, Wild Gratitude (1986), won the National Book Critics Award. Since then, he has published six additional books of poems.

Claire RossiniClare Rossini

Clare Rossini is the author of three collections of poetry: Lingo (The University of Akron Press, 2006); Winter Morning with Crow (University of Akron Press 1997), chosen by Donald Justice for the Akron Poetry Prize and one of two finalists for PEN’s first Joyce Osterweil Award; and Selections from the Claudia Poems (Minnesota Center for the Book Arts, 1996), an art book edition.

Sunday, August 7
Juan Filipe HerreraJuan Felipe Herrera – United States Poet Laureate

Juan Felipe Herrera is the 21st Poet Laureate of the United State (2015-2016) and is the first Latino to hold the position. From 2012–2014, Herrera served as California State Poet Laureate. Herrera’s many collections of poetry include Notes on the Assemblage; Senegal Taxi; Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, a recipient of the PEN/Beyond Margins Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award; and 187 Reasons Mexicanos Can’t Cross The Border: Undocuments 1971-2007. He is also the author of Crashboomlove: A Novel in Verse, which received the Americas Award. His books of prose for children include SkateFate; Calling The Doves, winner of the Ezra Jack Keats Award; Upside Down Boy, which was adapted into a musical for young audiences in New York City; and Cinnamon Girl: Letters Found Inside a Cereal Box. Herrera is also a performance artist and activist on behalf of migrant and indigenous communities and at-risk youth.

Peg BoyersPeg Boyers

Poet Peg Boyers was born in San Tomé, Venezuela, but spent her childhood on the move, living in such countries as Libya, Italy, Indonesia, and Cuba. Her collections of poetry are Hard Bread (2002), Honey with Tobacco (2007), and To Forget Venice (2014). Hard Bread contains a series of poems written in the voice of Natalia Ginzburg (1916–1991), an Italian writer, editor, and mother who witnessed World War II. Boyers carefully reconstructed Ginzburg’s experiences by illuminating the historical details of her life.

Wednesday, August 17
Kwame DavisKwame Dawes

Kwame Dawes is the author of sixteen collections of poetry, including, most recently, Duppy Conqueror, Wheels, Back of Mount Peace, and Hope’s Hospice. He has also published two novels, Bivouac and She’s Gone, winner of the 2008 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for Best First Novel. An accomplished actor, playwright, and producer, fifteen of his plays have been produced, and he has acted in, directed, or produced several of these productions himself, most recently One Love at the Lyric Hammersmith in London. His essays have appeared in numerous journals including Bomb Magazine, The London Review of Books, Granta, Essence, World Literature Today, and Double Take Magazine. Until July 2011, Dawes was Distinguished Poet in Residence, Louis Frye Scudder Professor of Liberal Arts, and founder and executive director of the South Carolina Poetry Initiative.

Become a Museum Guide! Learn All About It on January 13th!

Hill-Stead Museum’s Volunteer Guide Training Course is for people who enjoy art, architecture, history, and sharing stories and information with others. The 20-hour course prepares participants to guide visitors through Hill-Stead Museum’s collections, and much more! (While training and materials are free, Guides are required to become Hill-Stead Museum members.) Learn more about being a Museum Guide at this Information Session in Hill-Stead’s Makeshift Theater. Hear presentations and receive materials, snacks and beverages. To register, contact Kate Ebner at 860.677.4787 ext. 142,, or sign up at the Museum Shop.  FREE.  For more information see  Museum Guide Information Session.