Thursday, September 18, 2014

Visiting the Downton Abbey Costume Exhibit at Winterthur Museum

Thursday, September 11th, [day #2 of our trip] was a beautiful day in Wilmington, Delaware, and we awoke early so we could be at Winterthur Museum at 10:00 a.m. for our allotted two hour viewing of the Downton Abbey costume exhibit.

Winterthur is the 1,000 acre Country Estate and Museum of Henry [Harry] Francis du Pont [1880-1969]. The property opened to the public in October 1951 when Harry and his wife, Ruth, moved a few hundred yards away to another elegant house they had built called, The Cottage.

We rode a shuttle from the Visitor Center to the Museum.  The picture below hung just above the driver's head in the interior of the vehicle.  The driver told us the exhibit was original to Winterthur, and would not be traveling anywhere else. Supposedly a person of influence at Winterthur is a personal friend of Julian Fellowes [creator/writer of Downton Abbey], which enabled the museum to get the costume exhibit containing 40 outfits that will be displayed until January 4, 2015.  I was grateful photography was allowed.

~ Entrance to the Museum ~

 Our foursome with the backdrop of Highclere Castle [if only it was the real castle!]. 

[L-R: Me, Lori, Linda, and Barb]

~ Downton Abbey Cast ~

Because I took so many photos I will only show tea scenes, and the 'below the stairs' staff in this post, and will share the remainder of photos in tomorrow's post.  I purchased a CD of the original music from the TV series in the museum gift shop, and it's playing as I type this post to provide a little Downton Abbey atmosphere and inspiration.  ;-)

Throughout the exhibit, comparisons were made between the du Pont's at Winterthur, and the Crawley's at Downton Abbey.  Below is a breakfast tray that would have been brought to Cora Crawley or Ruth du Pont.

~ Head Housemaid, Anna Smith Bates ~ 

A tea service used by Mrs. du Pont when she served afternoon tea in one of the main parlors. The red box on the table is a wooden tea caddy, and they provided one where we could lift the lid and smell the tea. 

Informative explanations accompanied all vignettes. WASPS = White Anglo-Saxon Protestant.  It's an informal term used for a closed group of high-status White Americans of English Protestant ancestry.

The tea caddy with Mark T. Wendell tea company's blend of smoky Lapsang Souchong that we were allowed to open and smell.  [Apologies for blurry photo.]

They carried the tea in the gift shop, and I purchased a box.  The tea company has been supplying the delicately smoked Lapsang Souchong tea since 1904, and claim it's a one-of-a kind tea that you won't forget.

~ A Winterthur Footman, and an explanation about Afternoon Tea at the Estate ~

The explanation of English Tea [below] was written by Mrs. Frank Learned for The Etiquette of New York Today in 1906.  It says:  "In England the afternoon cup of tea is as regular an institution as breakfast, luncheon or dinner.  Many years ago the present Queen Alexandra, when Princess of Wales [1863-1901] began the fashion of asking her friends to come in for a cup of tea and a chat in the afternoon.  Society in general soon adopted the idea, and it was quickly imported to America." Everything I've read attributes the 'invention' of Afternoon Tea [or at least the popularization of it] to Anna Maria Russell, the 7th Duchess of Bedford, friend and Lady-in-Waiting to Queen Victoria in the 1840's. Interesting deviation!

Below is the board of gleaming bells in servants' hall [which is actually recreated in Ealing Studios, and not filmed at Highclere Castle].  One of those ringing bell signals a footman or ladies' maid to attend to a member of the Crawley family in one of the house's many rooms.

Mrs. Hughes' Costume.  Lovely chatelaine. 

Thomas' Costume [the guy you love to hate!]

~ Mrs.Patmore's Costume ~

~ Daisy's Costume ~

Mrs. O'Brien's Costume [Sure glad she got written out of the script!]

 Mr. Bates' Costume  [Will he be charged with murder again in Season 5?]

~ And last but not least, Mr. Carson's Costume ~

To be continued tomorrow...

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Chadds Ford, Pennsylvania

Chadds Ford is in Delaware County, Pennsylvania in "Brandywine Country" - about 12 miles from Wilmington, Delaware.  Susanna [at Rosemary House] told us a tea room was there, so we were eager to find it. It was after 4:00 p.m. when we arrived, and the tea room had closed for the day, but it looked charming enough for us to decide we would return another day.

While still in Chadds Ford, we stopped for gasoline where I spotted a Talbot's store in the shopping center across the street from the gas station.  Having read Linda J's Friendship Tea blog post on September 8th about the teacup sweater in Talbot's catalog, I asked if we could go in the store. [F.Y.I. - I strongly debated whether I should title this post "Linda made me do it!" ;-)]

They did indeed have the beautiful navy blue teacup sweater, and when I tried it on, I knew it was coming home with me.  The teacups aren't appliques, they're woven into the fabric.

As you can see, I was very pleased with my purchase!

You'd think with everything we ate at Sweet Remembrances earlier in the day we wouldn't be the least bit hungry, but we worked up an appetite shopping and riding in the car!  We spotted a Ruby's Diner in the shopping center parking lot, and decided to have dinner there before checking into our hotel in Newark, New Jersey Delaware [a joke between our foursome!].  

Have you ever eaten in a Ruby's?  There are none in Michigan, so we found the 1940's retro atmosphere with red vinyl booths, white Formica tables, soda fountains, and colorful poster art fun and nostalgic.  

[Internet Photo]

We gave the first day of our trip a five star rating as we snuggled into our beds that night, and were filled with anticipation over the next day's itinerary - Winterthur Museum.

*  *  *

Today I'm joining Bernideen's Tea Time blog for Friends Sharing Tea

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Afternoon Tea in Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania

Our "female foursome" left Michigan last Tuesday morning [Sept. 9th] bound for Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania, where we had reservations for Afternoon Tea at Sweet Remembrances Tea Room at 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday.

I had the privilege of having tea at Sweet Remembrances in 2005 when owner, Nancy Reppert, hosted the first annual seminar for the Mid-Atlantic Tea Business Association, which she helped organize.  We reconnected again on a London, England tea tour in 2007, and again in March of this year on a Kentucky tea tour.  Mechanicsburg was on the way to Wilmington, Delaware, so stopping there for tea was a must on our itinerary.  It was the perfect beginning to a wonderful trip!

The tea room, which opened in 1990, is located in a post Civil War red brick row house on Market Street in historic downtown Mechanicsburg. Nancy's sister, Susanna, owns and operates the Rosemary House, a herb and spice specialty shop located next door which their mother, Bertha Reppert, established in 1968.


We arrived a few minutes early, so we walked around back to see the garden.  Below is an arbor that Nancy adorns with chipped teapots and teacups that can no longer be used in the tea room.

The cute maid below was near the garden.

 Nancy, the owner of Sweet Remembrances, pictured below.

A table set for four awaited us.

~ Our foursome ~

[L-R:  Linda, Me, Barbara, and Lori]

~ The tea menu ~

I chose Peaches and Ginger to begin with, and later switched to Rosemary's Chai, one of their house blends.  Each of our teapots had a cozy to keep the tea warm.

~ Our tea began with a lovely Mandarin Orange Salad ~

Followed by a three-tiered server, laden with fabulous tea food!

We began with warm from the oven scones - a traditional cream scone, and a lemon pecan scone, served with jam and mock Devonshire cream.  They were the lightest scones I have ever eaten!

The savories consisted of Ham Salad on White Bread rounds; Basil Pesto Chicken Salad triangles; Cucumber, Radish, and fresh Chives on Pumpernickel rounds spread with Goat Cheese; and Pistachio Mascarpone Croistini.  [This recipe was recently provided on Nancy's blog, Rosemary's Sampler.]

Last, but definitely not least, were the desserts - A Fairy Cake, a creamy Chocolate covered Peanut Butter candy, and a Lemon Verbena tart triangle.  All were absolutely delicious!

It was a busy day at the tea room, and by the time we left, every table was in use.

Nancy had several tea-themed vignettes displayed throughout the tea room, and I photographed a few.

The tea set on top of the blue cabinet [pictured below] was Nancy's childhood tea set.

When we finished eating we "waddled" next door to Susanna's herb shop.

~ Susanna behind the counter ~

Below L-R:  Nancy, Me and Susanna

What did I purchase?  A Sweet Remembrances Cookbook

And two Amy Lawrence Cookbooks.

There was an antique store, Veroniques, next to the herb shop, so we couldn't leave town without going there.  

[Internet Photo]

I was happy to find a 1967 Gone With the Wind booklet. The front and back cover are pictured below.  

Then we were off to Wilmington, Delaware.

*  *  *

Today I'm joining Antiques and Teacups for Tuesday Cuppa Tea
and Rose Chintz Cottage for Tea Time Tuesday