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Winterthur’s “Costumes of Downton Abbey” Exhibit Highlights a Downton-rich Delaware in 2014

April 9, 2014 Attraction No Comments Email Email

In what has been heralded as a masterful addition to Winterthur’s rich roster of early American collections, the mansion-turned museum has unveiled its much-anticipated “Costumes of Downton Abbey” exhibit, an original collection of fashions from the award-winning PBS television series.

The buzz created by the opening has inspired fans nationwide to plan their own “Downton in Delaware” holidays, combining their visit to the exhibit with a side trip to the many Delaware destinations that boast their own “old-world” charm – especially the grand du Pont family mansions such as Winterthur (pronounced “Winter-tour”) that dot the countryside there.

Winterthur’s ambitious exhibition has inspired an assortment of Downton-related events across the state — including old-world high teas at ornate hotels and homes, as well as art exhibitions and demonstrations of life in the “Gilded Age” — making 2014 a perfect time for a feature story focused on “Downton in Delaware.”

In the main attraction, forty costumes and accessories worn upstairs and downstairs on the television drama will be displayed over the next 10 months in the Galleries at Winterthur, a grand former du Pont family mansion in the heart of Delaware’s “Chateau Country.” Among the highlights will be Lady Sybil’s harem pants, Lady Mary’s engagement dress, and Lady Edith’s wedding dress.

The exhibit near Wilmington will be on display through Jan. 4, 2015. No other cities are scheduled to host the exhibit – it is truly an only-in-Delaware attraction.

Winterthur’s curators have crafted the exhibition with the vision of giving visitors a rare glimpse into the fictional world of Downton Abbey and the contrasting world of Winterthur founder Henry Francis du Pont and his contemporaries in the first half of the 20th century.

The exhibition will be organized chronologically and visitors will move through the times of day. Visitors will enter past a working recreation of the bell system of Downton Abbey. Servants’ uniforms and livery are contrasted with elegant tweeds, sumptuous tea gowns, and elaborate evening clothes. To put the costumes into perspective, the exhibit is supplemented by photographs and vignettes inspired by the fictional program and by real life at Winterthur mansion, including H. F. du Pont’s Savile Row evening jacket, and the du Pont family’s 1874 Tiffany silver tea service.

Winterthur has also opened an online shop offering Downton-inspired apparel and accessories, books and DVDs, home and decor accessories, and jewelry. for more.

Winterthur also will host a Downton-inspired afternoon tea at its Visitor Center March 29-30, April 12-13 and May 18. The cost is $29.95 per adult, and 50 percent off for children younger than 12. Reservations are required. or call (302) 888-4826.

In addition, Winterthur will host a wide range of lectures, workshops, and events for adults and families focusing on entertaining and “country house” life in Britain and the United States. Winterthur’s popular seasonal offerings – including the Spring Tour, Historic Autos exhibit, Point-to-Point steeplechase races, and Yuletide celebrations — also will be thematically linked to Costumes of Downton Abbey in 2014.

The Downton celebration is spreading beyond Winterthur as well, making 2014 a year for “Downton in Delaware” excursions:

  • Amid the Gilded Age ambience of Wilmington’s luxurious Hotel DuPont, a variety of Downton-themed teas and dinners were held throughout January. In addition, the hotel is offering a Downton Abbey Overnight stay package starting in March through the exhibit’s conclusion. The Downton Abbey Exhibit Package includes: Luxury overnight accommodations; traditional breakfast for two in our restaurant, including gratuity; two tickets to the Winterthur Exhibit; and valet parking for one car.
  • In the state capital of Dover, a lineup of Downton-related exhibits and events are set for May, to concur with the annual Dover Days celebration, one of the premier festivals in the state. Fashions and pastimes of days gone by will be a focus of the celebrations, and special group tour events are planned.
  • Downton fans will enjoy a visit to one of several Victorian-themed tea rooms in Delaware, just to capture that properly British ambience. Here are just a few:
  • Tea for Two Teahouse in Dover hosts English afternoon tea sessions in a century-old Victorian home, complete with scones with lemon curd and Devonshire cream. Visit
  • Centreville Cafe and Montrachet Fine Foods in Centreville  is offering a $24.95-per-person afternoon tea inspired by the exhibit.‎.

“Winterthur is delighted to add this artistic and historical masterpiece to our already outstanding schedule of major exhibitions for the coming year,” said Winterthur Director David Roselle. “Costumes of Downton Abbey will not only showcase authentic designs from the series that has taken America by storm but also provide a remarkable educational experience by holding up a mirror to both places and societies. We think it’s going to be a real treat.”

A co-production of Carnival Films and Masterpiece, “Downton Abbey” depicts life in an aristocratic household of the fictional Earl and Countess of Grantham, and is one of the most popular and critically acclaimed period dramas ever produced. It has won a Golden Globe Award for Best Miniseries and seven Emmys including a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Miniseries.

It was the most watched television series in both the U.K. and U.S. and subsequently became the most successful British costume drama series since the 1981 television serial “Brideshead Revisited.” By the third series, it had become one of the most widely watched television shows in the world. The Guinness World Records recognized “Downton Abbey” as the most critically acclaimed English-language television series of 2011.

The costumes are lent by Cosprop, the world’s leading costumier to film, television, and theater. Winterthur’s most popular exhibition, “Fashion in Film,” which attracted more than 42,000 people over its three-month run, also featured costumes by Cosprop.

Advance purchase of tickets is strongly recommended. Timed tickets are required for this exhibition. Timed ticketing offers select times to view the exhibition while providing ample opportunity to enjoy Winterthur’s beautiful 60-acre garden, tour Henry Francis du Pont’s spectacular 175-room former home, visit Enchanted Woods children’s garden, discover dazzling treasures displayed in The Campbell Collection of Soup Tureens, shop, dine, and so much more. Tickets are $20 adults; $18 for students and seniors; $5 for ages 2–11.


OF NOTE This press release is supplemented by a “Downton in Delaware” itinerary and schedule, for your convenience. See Delaware’s IPW Press Release Folder for more.

For more information, photos, or to schedule an interview with the Delaware Tourism Office, call Eric Ruth at (302) 672-6813 or email him at

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