Saturday, July 23, 2016

Dressing Downton at Biltmore House in Asheville!

As promised in my post for the Biltmore Fashionable Romance,
Wedding Gowns in Film, I am back to share with your what I do
believe has become my most favorite visit to Biltmore, ever...
And, you know me, so you know we have visited Biltmore nearly a
hundred times since relocating to North Carolina from California...
Visits for every season, all the specialty tours offered...
And, the outdoor excursions, such as kayaking and Segway...
Not to mention holidays and Christmas candlelight tours!
So to say this was my favorite
Biltmore tour is really saying something!
But it was!
So much so, that we made the trip to Biltmore to
visit the Dressing Downton exhibit three times!
I enjoyed the Downton Abbey series so much. For years,
it was the only thing that made Sunday evenings before
having to return to work on Monday morning bearable!
I still cannot believe that it is over!
Television has never been so good and, despite my best hopes...
I very much doubt it ever will be again!

Nevertheless, I have found a way to move on and, we will always have
the experience of having seen the Downton Abbey costumes at Biltmore!
And, since you are genius enough to follow my blog, you get to say the
same! So follow me as we tour Biltmore again and revisit the costumes
of Downton Abbey. First, here in the billiards room, we have the fine
Lady Mary Crawley's waist-defining, red evening gown with its cap
sleeves and embroidered detail. I think it is stunning! However...
A little further down in the dining hall is where it gets really exciting!
Can you see them?
There is Lord Grantham and Cora, standing in
front of the hearth about to be seated for dinner!

Her beaded gown and green velvet overcoat are just beautiful!
This plaque tells us more about it...
Just outside the Vanderbilt family dining room, we
see a lovely lavender dress with matching hat...
Worn by Dame Maggie Smith, cast in the role of the
Dowager Countess of Grantham, Violet Crawley...
There was not one episode of Downton Abbey that did not remind me
of Biltmore house. Every single one of these costumes belongs here!
Just down the hall, we arrive at the music room where, during WWII,
famous works of art by Rembrandt, Raphael, Anthony van Dyck and
even Gilbert Stuart's George Washington portrait were all whisked
away from Washington's National Gallery of Art by train and hidden
at the estate to protect them against possible attacks. It was all done in
secret. They built in steel doors in the archways of this room and steel
bars on the windows. They even put curtains over the doors to conceal
them. Armed guards stood watch around the clock to protect the art!
This story began even before the World War II, when David Finley, the
new director for the National Gallery of Art became worried about the
museum's security from enemy attack. He was a friend of Edith Vanderbilt
and had stayed at Biltmore in the 1920's. He remembered it as being fireproof
and Asheville as being a very remote location. When the war began, Finley
asked Mrs. Vanderbilt whether the house could be used to secure some of the
museum's prized works and she graciously agreed. At the time, the music room
was still unfinished so it was chosen to hold the art. In all, 62 paintings and 17
sculptures were crated and delivered by train during a January 1942 snowstorm!
Today, this magnificent room guards treasures from the Downton Abbey television
series. By the way... I did not want to admit to you that we were the very first guests
through the doors to see this exhibit on the very first day it opened; however, I guess
catching staff as they put finishing touches on these costumes kinda gives me away!
Here is a better look at Lady Sybil's nurse's uniform...
And, Lady Edith's coat and breeches...
Worn to ride her bike!
Just beyond the music room is the tapestry hall where we find...
These lovely coat and hat ensembles worn by Ladies Mary and Edith Crawley

The red ensemble was worn by Lady Mary as
she traveled back to Downton from London...
Of the two ensembles, I believe Lady Edith wore hers better!
(Photo credit: Downton Abbey®)
But then, I was Team Edith from the
beginning and all the way to the very end!
Here we are in the library again!
As you already know... It is my favorite room in the house! Perhaps
that will change one day; especially if they ever add Mr. Vanderbilt's
private bathroom to one of the public tours! Take a look over there...
That is Lady Mary Crawley's pink silk dress, which is not being done
any justice in the photo chosen for this plaque used to describe it...
Because, as you can see, it is way more fabulous in person!
Well, come on... Follow me upstairs!
Through this pretty corner bedroom...
Into this one, where we see a coat worn by Shirley MacLaine...
Who played Cora's mother, Martha Levinson in the series!
(Photo credit: Downton Abbey®)
Just past the blue bedroom is this bedroom, which has one
of my favorite of all the 67 fireplaces in the house and, where...
We find costumes worn by Violet, the Dowager Countess - And, Cora's
creamy, floral-patterned silk coat; the material for which came from
an embroidered tablecloth and was also seen in The House of Elliott,
worn by Stella Gonet, who played Evangeline's sister, Beatrice!
Through the fireplace room, we enter Mrs. Vanderbilt's sitting room
and the former nursery of her daughter, Cornelia, born here in 1900
It is also where we find this gorgeous silk evening gown...
Featured several times during the
series, including at a dinner set in Scotland!
I think the gown is the perfect compliment
to the wallpaper and draperies in this room!
Around the corner...
We enter into George Vanderbilt's bedroom and see
this handsome suit that belonged to Lord Grantham!
Standard daywear for a man in the country!
Between Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt's bedrooms is this room where
they met for breakfast and Mrs. Vanderbilt used as her office!
And, it is also where we find these lovely gowns...
The one on the left being Lady Sybil Crawley's velvet maternity dress!
Speaking of dresses... Oh, my!
Just beyond Mrs. Vanderbilt's bedroom, we have the second floor
music and gathering room where we are greeted by Lady Rose!
She was the perfect Flapper-girl!
Around the corner we see her American friend, the Jazz musician!
Rose caused quite a stir when she invited him to perform at Downton!
On the other side of the room we find the ladies...
Just a couple more...

Dresses worn by Maggie Smith...
And, Shirley MacLaine!
As well as Lady Edith... She is here too!
I love this carved library table!
Here we see a gown worn to court to see the Queen!
So pretty!
Here is a plaque for the three sisters together!
Back down the stairs...
On our way to the basement!
Is where we find guest and staff costumes!
Here in the ping-pong room and bowling alley...
We see a couple of dashing gentlemen's costumes...
Including Matthew Crawley's belted suit on the left!
And, Mr. Levinson, Cora's brother, who came to visit, on the right!
Just past the gym...
And, the swimming pool...
With its incredible floor-to-ceiling tile work - The same
tile that can be found at Grand Central Station in New York...
We finally come to the kitchen!
Which I must tell you is not my my favorite. Yes, I can appreciate the views
from the windows and gleaming copper pots... But compared to the rest
of Biltmore, the kitchen is pretty unglamorous and even in the winter, you
can feel how hot and uncomfortable it must have been to work down here!
I would much rather be upstairs. Leaving the kitchen duties to Daisy...
Because I know that she, along with...
Mrs. Patmore...
Can get the job done!
See? The breakfast they made is ready for delivery via the dumbwaiter now!
Well done, ladies!
Another area of the downstairs I would rather not see...
Is the laundry! Can you imagine? Biltmore often hosted dozens
of people for months and months at a time. All that laundry!
Just outside the laundry is the staff dining area...
Where we see Mrs. Hughes, Anna, Mr. Bates and Mr. Barrow!
They sure do not look very happy!

There is Mrs. Hughes... Take a look at all those keys on her belt!
Here we see Mr. Bates in his polishing apron with his darling Anna...
Here he is again with Mr. Barrow, the footman!
Dear, sweet and misunderstood, Mr. Barrow...
Back up the steps and on the way to the
carriage house we find the smoking room...
And, the room where sport and hunting weapons were kept...
Here, we have a three-piece wool, herringbone suit worn by Sir Richard Carlisle...
And, Lady Mary's riding habit and hat...
Worn during the episode where she first meets her dear, sweet Matthew!
Here is a plaque describing Tom, the chauffeur, who later married Lady Sybil!
So that is the end of our tour! All that is left is for a quick spin...
Through the gift shop!
Where we bump into another lovely
ensemble worn by the Dowager Countess!
This was an incredible exhibit put on by Biltmore
and I do hope you enjoyed it as much as I did!
Of course, no visit to Biltmore village is ever
complete without dinner at Cedric's!
And, a little more shopping while we wait for our table!
Believe me, it is more than worth the wait!
We started with the deviled eggs and a salad...
Then my love had the whiskey mushrooms (none for me, thanks!)
I just had more of the pretzel rolls with some
of Biltmore's own lusty monk mustard butter!
We also shared a shrimp cocktail...
And finished ourselves off for the two
hour drive home by splitting the fish and chips!
So good!
Downton Abbey might be over for good, but thank goodness Biltmore
isn't going anywhere! We are already looking forward to next month...
Because I soooo cannot wait to see Rick Springfield!
I am told that the Dressing Downton exhibit is still touring so if you have
the chance, don't miss it! Of course, I cannot imagine it coming to life as
beautifully as it did here at Biltmore in Asheville... But still, go see it!

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