Saturday, September 6, 2014

Day Tripping

Way back in June I took a Friday off and me and a couple of girl friends went to Winterthur to see the Downton Abbey exhibit.   What a great day.  First some history about Winterthur.   Located in the Brandywine Valley (Delaware) this is a former duPont estate.   Henry Francis duPont had the incredible insight to create the home, the mansion, the museum he did.   Worried that architecture, design elements and furnishings would be lost, Mr. duPont would buy up rooms -- entire rooms  --including moldings, trims, windows, floorings and furnishings in buildings that fell into disrepair or were to be destroyed.   He would then recreate these rooms with exact precision within a space within the walls of Winterthur.   He was also a meticulous horticulturist with acres and acres of gardens on the 1,000 acre estate and the records to match.

Anything duPont holds a fascination for  me.   I have lived in a 'company' town my whole life.   Growing up, we locals knew not to venture out on the main road between 4 and 4:30 Monday to Friday because of "plant traffic".  Those were the days when 25,000 plus employees worked there but that number has sadly dwindled to not even 10 percent of that number still employed.  Between my husband, brothers, father, mother, grandfather, uncles, aunt and even myself, my family has over 250 years of service with the  duPont Company.  

But back to our tour.  I was speaking to some ladies from Rhode Island that made this part of a 2-day stop in the area.  They had never been to Newport, RI to tour the mansions there which was in their backyard and I was only visiting Winterthur for the second time.  It is funny, we all travel far and wide to visit an attraction but rarely do we look in our own backyard at what we have nearby.  Do people who live in people who live in Charleston SC never drive by Rainbow Road or visit the straw market the very places that as a tourist I checked off my must see list on my last visit?  I think I need to be more vigilant and start enjoying the wonders close to home on free weekends a little more frequently.

Just makes me want to grab some stitching and sit.

Heck, I forget the details on this Sycamore.   Either the oldest or largest in the State of Delaware.

It's hard to see but there is a house these in the center.

In addition to exploring the exhibit and museum, we toured the home.
The depth of this hall is an illusion.   Each archway is smaller then
the one before it giving the hall the look of greater depth.

What a lovely guest room.

Guests were afford all the pleasantries.

Moldings always intrigues me.    I am always in awe of the amount hand work and hand-tooling this would have required.

Family weddings have been held here.   Can't you just imagine how
pretty a bride would be coming down this staircase?

Can't remember what room this was......but the wallpaper was beautiful.

The chandelier - one of many - was beautiful.

The dining room what exquisite.

Mrs. duPont, like her husband, kept meticulous records.   No guest every sat to dine at the same table settings,
meal or bedroom dressings.  If a guest committed a faux paux on a previous visit, their room
were be made up in all white linens and bedding and they would know they made a transgression.

Benjamin West’s unfinished American Commissioners of the Preliminary Peace 
Negotiations with Great Britain. This is intentionally unfinished because the British 
refused to sit for the portrait.  Guess they were still angry about that whole revolutionary war thing.

This stoneware is what caught Henry duPont's interest and curiosity and
desire to amass the collection and create the museum.

Life at Downton with Lord and Lady Gratham would have been the English counterpart to the duPont's at the same time, early 20th century.    It was interesting to see what would how Americans would have been conducting themselves compared to how the Grantham's did during the same era.  If you are a fan, you know it takes just one show for the Crawleys to draw you into their family.

The bells in the servants quarters.

Oh that O'Brien!

 A collection of finery worn by Elizabeth McGovern and Shirley MacClaine.

Lady Edith's wedding dress.   Poor Lady Edith, left at the altar.

Remember Sybil wearing this "improper attire" to dinner.  
Lord Grantham flipped his black tie and tails that night!

Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess.
That Violet, what a hoot she is!
Cleverly displayed with the movie scenes being shown behind the display took the viewer
right back to that night in the snow when Matthew proposed to Lady Mary.

Interesting 'trained' fuchsia flanked the entrance.

Beautiful stone walls made from the local stone.

Gigantic Japanese Maple!
It is time to go out and enjoy all things local taking that one tank of gas day trip!


diamondc said...

Oh my gosh this is on my bucket list of things to do and see before I leave this beautiful world, the pictures are stunning, thank-you for sharing them.


llknbillburg said...

How lucky you are to live so close to such a wonderful place! I would love to see it someday. It is definitely on my Bucket List!!! Laura

Melody said...

Thanks for sharing your visit with us! I would like to go see the house and grounds sometime. You are fortunate to have something so beautiful nearby.

Kimmie said...

Those photos are awesome!!!!!

cucki said...

Wow so beautiful :)

Lynn said...

Winterthur also has private needlework tours. I can't remember the cost but if you have a group of 4-6 it's more affordable. You get to go behind the scenes and see some of the collection that's not on display. Also, there's a needlework symposium in October.

Andrea said...

It looks such a beautiful place.