PSA: Downton Abbey Exhibition

Sometimes I think there’s a place you’ve just got to know about and my Public Service Announcements (PSAs) will give you the full skinny.

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Control center for the Downstairs
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The Butler’s Pantry, aka Carson’s Room

If you were a Downton Abbey fan, this exhibit is a must.  Here’s the gist:

  • What You’ll See:
    • Set Recreations: The exhibit starts by showing you the “downstairs” (aka: servants’ quarters) and then takes you “upstairs” to detail how the family lives.  You’ll get more detail as to how the bell system worked or the manner in which dinner was to be served.
    • A History Lesson: In addition to showing you bits from the show, general commentary of the times is extrapolated from the show’s characters and moments.  For example, after reminding us of Anna’s rape and Thomas’ homosexuality, they offer explanation of the laws of the times (e.g., homosexuality was illegal in the UK til 1967).
    • Costumes: More than 50 from the original set are on display.  I think this is why most people come to the exhibit – if you’re looking to see some dresses, you won’t be disappointed.  It’s also cool to see the wedding dresses and how styles changed over the course of the 13-year timespan covered by the show.

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  • Fun Extras:
    • They encourage photos and social sharing – not standard for exhibitions, but I liked feeling free to post
    • There’s a cute computer quiz I didn’t take, but I think it can tell you things like what kind of servant you would be.
  • How Long It Takes:
    • There are 3 floors.  You start on the bottom and work your way up.  You can spend as much time as you want on a given floor but can’t go back down once you’ve moved onto the next.  You’ll spend the majority of the time on the first two floors.  The third is just costumes and significantly smaller.
    • Your ticket is for a specific time, but they’ll start admitting 30 minutes prior to that time and stop admitting for your slot once it hits that time.  I would arrive 35 or 40 minutes before your scheduled time slot.
    • It took me a solid hour to go through the whole exhibit, not including arriving early.
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This outfit, from the final scene of episode 1, is what hooked me on the series.  I came to the exhibition specifically hoping to see it.