“Good evening, and welcome to Downton.” – as Mr. Carson, the butler, would say on PBS’ hit television series Downton Abbey.
Directed by Julian Fellowes this show offered a whirl wind of adventures for fans as we watched how the Crawley family lived in their grandiose estate in England. We cried, laughed and fell in love with its characters during the duration of the show. Whether you’re a fan of the show, British aristocracy or a major history buff keep reading as I take you on an inside look at NYC’s new exhibit of the Crawley families life in post-Edwardian England.
For a short time New York City is offering a museum exhibition of the life at Downton Abbey. Including things such as original costumes, props, production sets and interactive displays. Yes, you read that right… original costumes! The costumes displayed in this exhibit are the exact costumes worn by the characters in the show. From Lady Mary’s evening gowns to Lady Edith’s wedding dress, the Downton Abbey exhibit is sure to amaze with some of the most memorable moments from the show’s six-season run.
Located at 218 W 57th Street the exhibit, which started in late November, is running until April 2, 2018 by popular demand. You can purchase tickets here. However, if you aren’t in the New York area between now and the first week of April the exhibit might be coming to a city near you in the future. So keep an eye out and follow their Facebook page here.
The exhibit starts off with a message from Mr. Carson, the estates butler. He welcomes you in and gives you some ground rules of the exhibit in a cheeky sort of way. Next, the tour transports you into another world where the characters and iconic house come to life. Not really though, us millennials haven’t quite figured out time travel yet haha. But it feels as if you have left New York City and are immediately in England at the Abbey. As you walk through the servants halls, Mrs. Hughes guides you into the common room where the infamous bell wall is. The servant bells were used as an intercom system during this time to send quick messages from the family upstairs to the servants downstairs. Each bell is labeled with the name of each room in the estate; i.e. sitting room, Lady Mary’s bedroom, front door etc. For example, if someone in the sitting room needed a servants assistance they would pull a string which would ring a bell downstairs and a servant would be right up to help!
This room was also the main part of the show where secrets were shared, romance was displayed and quarrels began between the servants. Lots of drama downstairs! But thats why we loved the show! In the back of the photo, next to the dish cupboard stands Mr. Carson’s and Mrs. Hughes costumes from the show. As you know, from endlessly watching the series Mr. Carson was in charge of all the servants along with Mrs. Hughes. They both kept a tight ship upstairs and downstairs which is partly why the Downton Abbey house ran with such ease during this era of aristocracy.
Mrs. Patmore’s Kitchen & the Dinning Room:
The kitchen, located downstairs, is where you will find Mrs. Patmore and her kitchen maid Daisy always cooking up something for the Crawley family upstairs. As you walk through this part of the exhibit you can hear pots banging and food being chopped along with the smell of freshly baked pie escaping the oven. It really feels as if Mrs. Patmore is cooking up something delicious right in front of you. In the kitchen also stands the costumes that Mrs. Patmore (left) and Daisy (right) wore during the show. Fun fact: during the making of the show all the food was real and made by London-based food stylist, Lisa Heathcote.
From kitchen to table, the dinning room is where the Crawley family always joined together to share a meal. This dinner table was the setting for a lot of tough conversations and traumatic moments i.e. Lord Grantham’s bloody scene in season six. However, it was also the setting of sister rivalry and flirtatious banter as we watched Lady Mary dazzle each man that sat down.
On the third level of the exhibit fans will find all the glorious fashions and costumes worn by these beloved characters. Also, through out the exhibit are interactive displays like this 1920’s telephone I held up to my ear to listen to the words of Lord Grantham making a phone call on the show. It really makes you appreciate your iPhone a lot more haha. But nonetheless a lot of fun to play around with.
Above: is Lord Grantham’s coat & tales and his uniform from the war which he wore during dinner parties or occasions with soldiers present.
Below: are some of Lady Mary’s evening gowns she would wear to dinner or out on the town in London with a new beau. The exhibit also showcased Lady Mary’s bedroom where her closest confidant and ladies maid Anna would help her get dressed everyday. In the room stands her dressing robes and night gown she would wear to bed. Lady Mary was perhaps the most stylish on the show.
Lastly, on the way out from visiting Downton is the gift shop which is filled with an abundance of home decor items, books, clothing and accessories to purchase as a momentum or souvenir of your experience. Downton Abbey the Exhibition was truly a wonderful experience and I wish every fan the opportunity to see it. Whether its the fashion of the show, the house or the history this exhibit has it all and won’t disappoint. You can purchase tickets here if you’d like to enter into the world of Downton Abbey.
til next time, cheers!
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