What will happen to the Downton Abbey costumes when the series ends?

Costume designer Anna Robbins dreams of a Downton Abbey costume exhibition, but some of the cast are more interested in getting their hands on hand-me-downs

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Forget Mary’s search for love, Anna and Bates’ yearning for a child or the future of the estate – the issue that’s really bothering some Downton Abbey fans in the ITV drama’s final series is far more glamorous. What will happen to the series’ amazing costumes once Highclere Castle closes its doors to the Crawleys forever?

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One person has the answer – costume designer Anna Robbins, who was speaking about the series yesterday at the Cheltenham Literature Festival. 

“They have been beautifully catalogued, and any repairs that need doing to any of the original dresses have been done, and they’ve all been preserved really well,” Robbins said when asked what had happened to the period outfits. “They’re bagged and labelled and put on rails, and are currently in storage at Ealing.” 

Their future is a little less certain – but Robbins says she has a dream that would allow fans to get a much closer look in the Downton wardrobes. 

“I’ve always sort of designed with the idea in mind that these costumes might be seen in exhibitions at some point, and that they might get a sort of second viewing by everybody” Robbins said. “You would be able to get up closer to them than the sort of five seconds that they might flash in front of the camera.

“I’ve always designed them with that in mind, which makes my job harder but ultimately more rewarding.”

Read more: secrets of Lady Rose’s wedding dress

Sounds like the secrets of Lady Mary’s clothes rail might be open to fans yet – and it wouldn’t be the first time that Downton’s dresses have gone on display.

Robbins’ ideas weren’t the only costuming revelation to emerge at the Cheltenham session, where executive producer Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes’ niece Jessica Fellowes and some of the cast discussed the series.

“One other thing about costumes is that they have a life, because the upstairs people give the downstairs people their hand-me-downs,” Raquel Cassidy (who plays lady’s maid Baxter) explained.

“And you’ll be wearing a shirt without knowing that, and then suddenly Laura [Carmichael] and Michelle [Dockery] will go ‘I wore that, when did I wear that,’ or ‘when did I wear that hat?’

“And it’ll come out that it’s some really dramatic scene that they were wearing that, but that was two years ago or three years ago, and now it’s part of your clothing.”

OK, we’ve officially found a brilliant new Downton Abbey game – spot the recurring dramatic hat. Roll on Sunday…

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Downton Abbey continues on ITV this Sunday at 9.00pm