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)…
…who married the ninth Duke of Marlborough, bringing her very large dowry to the rescue of her new English home, Blenheim Palace.
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.
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.
Coaching Weekend, which occurs every three years in Newport, returns on August 16-19, 2018. A must-see…
Featured image credit, Kenneth Lindh.