Downton Abbey may be long over *tear* but that doesn’t mean you can’t relive every moment from the show. And no I don’t mean reruns on Amazon Prime, though that’s a great place to start. What I mean is, what if I said you could actually step inside of Downton Abbey? No, I’m not talking about the actual castle, although that too would be a show lover dream destination. But no, what I really mean is some genius (who deserves a raise), had a brilliant idea to bring Downton and all its aristocratic prestige to America, despite the Dowager Countess of Grantham’s and Mr. Carson’s objections. Cause, of course, they would be the ones to object.
As an obsessed fan of the show, I had to go and it did not disappoint me. As a matter of fact, it gave me an all new appreciation for the show all over again, but more specifically the history of the period, costuming and the lives of aristocrats.
Join me as I give you a quick tour of the Downton Abbey Exhibition in New York City. Since I can’t talk about Downton without the theme music I’ve included it for your musical enjoyment.
The First Level
Upon entry, you’re greeted by none other than Mr.Carson. He welcomes and shades you in true Mr. Carson fashion. Then you enter the lower level service area and this is when you realize you’ve entered Downton.
Because you’re downstairs the first room you will enter is the kitchen. The sights and smells allow you to imagine all of the delicious meals that are prepared for Lord Grantham’s family. The only thing missing is Mrs. Patmore in your ear telling you to get a move on cause the bell board is ringing.
The Second Level
After you leave the service level you come into the main area of Downton. At the center of it is the famous dining room table. This is where the Grantham’s dine for all of their meals. I don’t know about yall but I consider the table is a silent character. This table has been at the center of many jaw-dropping moments.
The table is large and it’s place settings intimidating. There’s a fine art to English dining and one wrong misstep you’ll give yourself away as an American. As Myka Meier, an Etiquette Expert owner of Beaumont Etiquette explained, pinkies up in England is a dead giveaway that you’re an American. The proper way to sip tea is to grasp the handle between your thumb and index finger and your remaining fingers are tucked under for cup support. And if you’re wearing lipstick sip from the same spot so you don’t have lipstick all over the cup. For more information about the courses Myka offers click here.
The Third Level
This is where you’ll see iconic pieces from Downton’s most memorable episodes. This includes the wedding gowns worn by Lady Mary, Lady Edith, and Lady Rose MacClare, as well as leisure wear, formal dining wear and uniforms worn by the shows main characters.
All of the costumes displayed come with background and scene information. There’s even historical information relating to life (across all stations) during the early 20’s in England, fashion, and how aristocrats were expected to carry themselves.
Examining the costumes (from a close distance) is how I spent most of my time. The detailing in the stitching, overall designs and how they’re coordinated together are impeccable. It’s truly a sight to behold and made me feel like I was right back in the original scene.
The Dowager Countess said it best, “You’ll find there’s never a dull moment in this house”, or in this case the exhibition. I’ve been twice and there were things that I saw on my second trip that I didn’t see on my first visit. There’s that much to see, far more than what I shared with you here. Thankfully this is a walking tour so you can take your time exploring, learning, and being amazed.
The exhibition runs through September 2018, and after that, I don’t know where it’s headed. So if you love Downton Abbey and find yourself in NYC you need to add this to your must-see list.
Have you been to the Downton Abbey exhibit? What was your favorite part?
*FYI: I was given a complimentary ticket for my second visit to the Downton Abbey Exhibition for the purpose of this review. This post also contains Amazon affiliate links.
Cover image credit: Downton Abbey