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.
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...