I’ve always said the Brandywine Valley offers more smiles for miles because of all the wonderful attractions we have. Did you know our area has more public gardens than any other area in the United States? Never was this more true than right now. Winterthur, the country estate of Henry Francis DuPont, is hosting the Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit through January 4, 2015. This is the only United States exhibit. We went to the exhibit this week and it was definitely the best I’ve ever visited. The exhibit includes 40 costumes worn by all cast members, both upstairs and downstairs through the first four seasons. The costumes are accompanied by pictures in the background showing which cast member wore the costume as well as the information about the scene and an explanation of how members of an Edwardian houssehold dressed. I knew that members of the aristocratic family and their guests changed clothes many times a day but was surprised to learn that many of the housekeeping staff such as the head housekeeper, the valet, and the butler also had morning and afternoon and evening attire. The attention to detail on these costumes is amazing. Did you know that the buttons on Thomas’ jacket (he was a footman) are actually embossed with the Grantham coat of arms? It is these small details which you can’t see while watching Downton Abbey that makes this exhibit so fascinating. There are large screen monitors as well which play the scene showing some of the costumes on display. My favorite was the scene in which Matthew Crawley proposed to Lady Mary. Loved how she insisted that he get down on one knee and propose properly! Of course, the Dowager Countess Violet is well represented with many of her ascerbic quotes. My favorite is “What’s a weekend?” There are so many more interesting facts you’ll glean from this exhibit but I don’t want to spoil it by telling you so you’ll just need to visit.
Along with information about life in an Edwardian estate is some information and photographs about the DuPont estate which mirrored many of the English estates at that time. After visiting the Downton Abbey exhibit (or before depending on what time your reservation is) you can tour the Winterthur estate. The price of admission is $20.00 per person and gets you admission to both as well as the grounds. There are also lectures in April and May at Winterthur. One that should be really interesting is about Leslie Hutchinson who inspired the character of jazz singer Jack Ross. By the way, we will be offering the Brandywine Treasures Passport again this year which is $35.00 and will get you into 11 different attractions from Memorial Day through Labor Day. We’ll be putting information about this on our web site under Specials. If you will be attending at least 3 attractions during that time you’ll save money.
To further enhance your visit to the Costumes of Downton Abbey exhibit, Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast is offering a wonderful Edwardian inspired picnic lunch to enjoy on the grounds of Winterthus. Of course, during colder weather you can still order it and enjoy it in your room while you are staying with us. To learn more about the picnic basket http://www.hamanassett.com/special.html. Winterthur expects over 100,000 visitors to this exhibit and reservations are required. We suggest you make your reservations www.winterthur.org (800-448-3883) for the exhibit first and then reserve your room at Hamanassett Bed & Breakfast. You can call us directly on our toll free number at 877-836-8212 or make them online www.hamanassett.com.