Road Trip! Destination: 'Downton Abbey' via Delaware

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop
| Saturday, March 8, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

The costumes of “Downton Abbey” have come to life in an exhibit at Winterthur Museum in Wilmington, Del. 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.

“Downton Abbey” depicts life in an aristocratic British household of the fictional Earl of Grantham. The popular, critically acclaimed period drama has won a Golden Globe award for best miniseries and seven Emmys, including for outstanding miniseries.

The costumes are lent by Cosprop, the world's leading costumier to film, television and theater.

While you are in the area to see the costume collection, stop by to see the planes at Dover Air Force Base, shop at the outlets or one of two local malls — no sales tax will be charged — or visit the Dover International Speedway after its season starts May 30. Details: 866-284-7483 or

JoAnne Klimovich Harrop is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7889.

Take a trip Downton

Forty costumes and accessories worn upstairs and downstairs on the television drama “Downton Abbey” will be displayed in the galleries at this former du Pont family mansion in the heart of Delaware's Chateau Country. Among the highlights are Lady Sybil's harem pants, Lady Mary's engagement dress and Lady Edith's wedding dress.

Winterthur's ambitious exhibit has inspired an assortment of Downton-related events across the state, including old-world high teas at ornate hotels, art exhibits and demonstrations of life in the Gilded Age of the early 20th century. The exhibit at Winterthur Museum, Garden & Library near Wilmington will be on display through Jan. 4, 2015.

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

Visitors will enter past a working re-creation 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 in 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.

A wide range of lectures, workshops and events for adults and families focus on entertaining and country house life in Britain and the United States.

“ ‘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,” says Winterthur director David Roselle in a news release.

Winterthur, known worldwide for its collection of American decorative arts, gardens and research library for the study of American art and material culture, offers a variety of tours, exhibits, programs and activities throughout the year.

Tickets are $20, $18 for senior citizens and students, $5 for ages 2-11 and free for those younger than 2. Advance purchase is recommended. Hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Sundays.

Details: 302-888-4907 or

Sip near the surf

Delaware's Wine & Ale Trail features trips — and tastings — inside some of the most cutting-edge breweries around, including Dogfish Head's headquarters and brew pub. The trail is a collection of 13 wineries and breweries throughout the state that will take you on a flavorful journey from the riverfront in Wilmington to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean.

Details: 866-284-7483 or

From Rehoboth to Bethany to Dewey, this area has some quality beaches.

Rehoboth boasts some of the East Coast's top-rated restaurants and plenty of boutiques and galleries. Bethany was named one of the Top 10 Best Beaches for Families by Family Vacation Critic in 2013 and one of the Best Secret Beaches by Travel + Leisure Magazine. Dewey and Rehoboth have been dubbed two of the nation's cleanest by the Natural Resources Defense council.

Details: 866-284-7483 or

Go airborne

Standing proudly alongside the long runways and giant C-5 Galaxy transport jets of Dover Air Force Base, the Air Mobility Command Museum is the kind of place for history buffs and airplane aficionados. Nowhere else in the nation can visitors climb aboard classic military transport aircraft or stand in the decommissioned control tower of one of the nation's busiest Air Force bases. At the Air Mobility Command Museum, military-history fans can witness the drama of the Berlin Airlift or learn about the potentially perilous art of aerial refueling.

Tours are on Fridays and are free. Groups need to submit a request form prior to a visit.

Details: 302-677-3000 or

Shop 'til you drop

Most savvy visitors use part of their getaway to take advantage of no sales tax on any item any time in Delaware. The state is one of five that has no sales tax. Favorites include the 100-plus shops of the Tanger Outlet centers near Rehoboth or the upscale, brand name shops of Christiana Mall or the Dover Mall, which is home to more than 85 stores.


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