Big Houses, Colorful Flora, and Expensive Dresses

By Tuesday, April 21, 2015 , ,

Greetings after somewhat of a break! If you've been following me on Instagram lately, you've seen that I visited the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, North Carolina this past weekend. I'd been once before, but it had been probably ten years since. And my mom and I decided to take the plunge this time primarily because of the new "Dressing Downton" exhibit that's stationed there. Yes, from now until Memorial Day, the actual costumes from the actual show of Downton Abbey are set up throughout the Biltmore for gushing fans like yours truly to ogle and admire. The whole day was elegance defined. The Biltmore House in itself is stunning, of course, and the Downton costumes there added such a refined, historical air. 

As I walked through the house, aside from the aforementioned costume-ogling, I had a newfound appreciation for the detail and obvious years of work that went into this fine mansion. Not just in constructing it, but in maintaining it for so long. It makes you realize afresh that houses like the fictional Downton Abbey were real and held to the traditions and rituals you see in the show. The owners really did need all those servants just to keep everything going each day; it was mind-boggling to consider cleaning even half the rooms in that place. When I watch Downton, it's easy to forget just how many rooms there are in a big estate house because only a primary few have screen time, but I was working up a sweat just from walking the length of the Biltmore. And to think that there was such a specific use for every room is pretty amazing too. I found myself re-envisioning scenes from Downton in comparable rooms featured in the show, especially where costumes were displayed. Sadly, photography was not allowed inside the house, but suffice to say it was impressive. Costumes worn by Lord and Lady Grantham, the Dowager Countess, Matthew Crawley, Sir Richard Carlisle, Martha Levinson, and all of the younger Crawley ladies were on display. Up close, you can see unbelievable details in lace, beading, and pattern that even a high-quality TV can't capture. So many of the dresses were simply exquisite to see that closely. 

Speaking of exquisite, let's also mention the unbelievable gardens that stretch for miles all over the place. Color was everywhere. I hardly knew where to turn my camera, everything was so beautiful. The work involved in that aspect was pretty overwhelming to consider as well. So of course, running through my mind the whole time was, "Just like Downton! Estates really were that big with that many parts and that many servants!" Basically, I went to the American version of Downton Abbey. And it was lovely in every way. Especially the library. My heart, that library. Woodwork, ceiling-high shelves, rolling footstools, a fireplace, and one of Lady's Mary's evening gowns. I could almost pretend I was in the English one. Hoping to get to it for real before too long :) 


Thanks for giving me a tiny taste of Downton Abbey this weekend, Biltmore Estate and Gardens. You certainly played your part well. So glad I got to do it with my mama and good friend Haley as well! If you're ever in Asheville, definitely make the time for the Biltmore, Downton fan or otherwise. You'll be impressed, I'm sure. 

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  1. I went to the Biltmore in high school and it made me feel like I was in Misselthwaite Manor. I bought a postcard of the library since I couldn't take a picture and obviously I wanted to stay there forever.

    1. Right?! I was in awe of that library. I could've stayed in there forever too. And the gardens definitely nod to Misselthwaite Manor as well. An all-around stunning place! :)