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The Return of Downton Abbey

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Is it just a coincidence that the announcement of Downton Abbey’s  return as a silver screen adaption is coming out a mere three to four weeks before Coaching Weekend returns to Newport? This very English tradition brought over from Britain in the late 1890s by Alfred Gwynne Vanderbilt…and the incarnation of the Downton Abbey lifestyle.

I’m thrilled for many reasons,  but the most relevant point to one who writes under the moniker “Private Newport” is that two actual Newport families provided the inspiration for the story line of Downton Abbey. The Vanderbilts…Consuelo Vanderbilt (daughter of Alva and Wm. K. Vanderbilt of Marble House)…

Photo Credit: Gavin Ashworth Courtesy of the Preservation Society of Newport County

…who married the ninth Duke of Marlborough, bringing her very large dowry to the rescue of her new English home, Blenheim Palace.

Photo Credit: @BlenheimPalace

Just as Lady Grantham provided the American dollars for the repair of Downton Abbey, a new home in which she and the Duke came to reside when his very distant cousin (the heir to the title) went down with the Titanic.

Photo Credit: @Highclere_Castle

This story line was inspired by the George Widener family of Newport who were sailing home from Europe in 1912  with their son (and heir) aboard the Titanic. Only Mrs. Widener returned to Newport after that fateful voyage. In 1915, she completed their home, Miramar, a French, Neo- Classical style limestone residence on Bellevue Avenue, in honor of her husband.

Appreciating that each of us has our favorite actors from Downton Abbey, I did want to mention that for sure, Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Maggie Smith (The Dowager Duchess) and Hugh Bonneville (Lord Grantham) are returning.

Well, as we await more forthcoming details of the script by Julian Fellowes and release date of the film, let’s look back at some favorite images of past Coaching Weekends. The handsome restored coaches are in impeccable condition, the horses are matched pairs and liveried footmen sport gold-braided attire.

Photo Credit: Kenneth Lindh
Photo Credit: Kenneth Lindh

Coaching Weekend, which occurs every three years in Newport, returns on August 16-19, 2018. A must-see…


Featured image credit, Kenneth Lindh.

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Bettie Bearden Pardee

About Bettie Bearden Pardee

Author of Private Newport and Living Newport, garden furniture designer (The Parterre Bench), national lecturer, and entertaining expert. An honoree for the second year on "The Salonniere 100 America's Best Party Hosts", she was also the host and creative producer of "The Presidential Palate: Entertaining at the White House".

One thought on “The Return of Downton Abbey

  1. I have had the honor of witnessing coaching weekend and it is a site to behold! Unfortunately I am unable to attend this year.

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