Lady Mary Crawley’s Day of Indulgence, Wilmington-Style

Wilmington's Riverfront is a fascinating mix of fun, history and natural delights.

Wilmington’s Riverfront is a fascinating mix of fun, history and natural delights.

Lady Mary Crawley. Joss Barratt, Carnival Film and Television Limited

Lady Mary Crawley.
Photo by Joss Barratt, Carnival Film and Television Limited

Where would Lady Mary Crawley go if she had a day to spend in Wilmington, Delaware?

Surely, she would visit if she knew all of her lovely clothes were on display at Winterthur. She’s sigh at all the fuss being made over a few dresses, some shoes and her hats (even while the rest of us are swooning at the idea of seeing the costumes of Downton Abbey, our favorite PBS/BBC show.)

While she was in this valley of chateaux and fine living — where Lady Mary no doubt would feel right at home — she certainly would be busy visiting the fine homes of the Brandywine Valley: Longwood, Nemours and Hagley (with a side tour of the black powder works).

But perhaps she might want to spend an afternoon on her own, enjoying some alone time, taking advantage of the area’s delights.

I wondered how I would spend the day if I were Lady Mary…so I took off for the lovely little city on the Christina River and this is how I spent my day.  (It’s a day any of us could enjoy.) And a fine day it was too.

Breakfast at Krazy Kat's, with a delightful side of whimsy

Breakfast at Krazy Kat’s, with a delightful side of whimsy.

I think she should start with breakfast at the adorable Inn at Montchanin Village‘s Krazy Kat’s restaurant: just a cup of coffee, perhaps, or if she was feeling particularly peckish, Eggs Benedict, an omelet or one of their other hearty dishes. The amusing cat portraits and sunny side dining room make for a happy start to the day.

The spa at the Inn at Montchanin Village

The spa at the Inn at Montchanin Village

Since I was starting there, I decided to stop in the Spa for a manicure. With her dewy clear skin, Lady Mary might not be interested in a facial and no one but her lady’s maid Anna would touch her tresses. But a manicure is a nice bit of pampering. I would recommend she tour the inn’s lovely gardens — Alas, I didn’t because there was still too much snow on the ground.

Montchanin Village was once the home of workers at the nearby blackpowder mill at Hagley. But now the little cottages are luxurious sleeping rooms of the inn, surrounded by gardens and lovely pots of plants — in lovelier weather. What better way to enjoy the calm mood that comes after a bit of pampering?

Buckley's has been serving comfort foot in a historic setting since the 1930s.

Buckley’s has been serving comfort foot in a historic setting since the 1930s.

No need to hurry, of course, but friends are waiting at a nearby restaurant for lunch. Two good casual eateries are within a five minute drive from here. Downtown Wilmington can wait just a little longer.

Along Kennett Pike (Route 52)— very close to Winterthur — you’ll find both Buckley’s Tavern and the BBC Tavern and GrillBuckley’s is two miles north of Winterthur, in the middle of historic little Centreville. BBC is 2.5 miles southsouth, nestled among several of Greenville’s good shops, which any shopper would enjoy.

BBC Tavern is cozy with wood paneling and a small fireplace. I liked the copper-covered menu (and the food, too.)

BBC Tavern is cozy with wood paneling and a small fireplace. I liked the copper-covered menu (and the food, too.)

Thinking it was named for the British Broadcasting Company, I chose the BBC. The name refers to the Brandywine Brewing Company but no matter, the restaurant is cozy, and the food is good. Both restaurants are much more casual than Lady Mary would be used to but in Wilmington it’s OK to let your hair down occasionally — even if you are aristocracy.

Old-fashioned Govatos has a delicious assortment of chocolates and truffles.

Old-fashioned Govatos has a delicious assortment of chocolates and truffles.

Downtown Wilmington is  a center for banking and law. It’s home to the Delaware History Museum on Market Street ‚ which is where you’ll also find Govato’s. It’s a day of indulgences, so I had to stop for some dark chocolate caramels, truffles and a few other sweets before going to the Riverfront.

The Riverfront borders the Christina River with a boardwalk that will take visitors (and a good number of joggers) from the train station, past office buildings, a market, some good restaurants and a couple of museums.

The Delaware Children's Center is located on the Riverfront.

The Delaware Children’s Center is located on the Riverfront.

She might like to take her son George to the Delaware Children’s Museum for a bit of fun.

Exhibits change every few weeks at the non-collecting Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts.

Exhibits change every few weeks at the non-collecting Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts.

On a fine day, the walk along the Riverwalk is lovely but if the weather is cool or wet, I would recommend that milady stop in the Delaware Center for the Contemporary Arts. I know it’s a bit edgy but Lady Mary has her progressive moments and I think she might like what she sees. It would also provide an interesting counterpoint to all the traditional design she’s been seeing elsewhere on her visit here.

Lady Mary would feel at home in the ornate wood paneled Green Room at the Hotel Du Pont.

Lady Mary would feel at home in the ornate wood paneled Green Room at the Hotel Du Pont.

No lady would let the afternoon go by without a proper tea so a stop at the Hotel DuPont for tea would most definitely be in order. Tea is served every afternoon 3-5 p.m. and reservations are a must.

What a lovely day — and I haven’t even seen the Downton Abbey exhibit yet! (But I plan to, don’t you?)

Matthew and Lady Mary of Downton Abbey, Photo Credit: Giles Keyte, Carnival Film and Television Limited 2012

Matthew and Lady Mary of Downton Abbey,
Photo Credit: Giles Keyte, Carnival Film and Television Limited 2012

The Downton Abbey costume exhibition begins March 1 and runs through January 4, 2015. Purchase of a timed ticket for the Downton Abbey exhibit enables visitors to take a house tour, visit the garden and see other exhibits in the galleries.

Lady Mary's dress ready for exhibition at Winterthur. Photo credit: Jim Schneck.

Lady Mary’s dress ready for exhibition at Winterthur. Photo credit: Jim Schneck.

Oh what a day away it will be. I think Lady Mary would agree.

© Text and photos Mary K. Tilghman
Thanks to Winterthur for connecting me with the photos from Downton Abbey and of Lady Mary’s costume.

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