Step back in time with ‘Downton Chappy’

I don’t know about you, but I’m counting the days until we can again immerse ourselves in the captivating world of the Crawleys. The fourth season of “Downton Abbey” is set to return to PBS Jan. 5.

In the meantime, you might like to get a bit of a fix, as I did on a recent morning, and visit the home of the New Castle Historical Society in Chappaqua.

The society, in a most clever turn, is offering “Downton Chappy – Costumes of the ‘Downton Abbey’ Era” through the end of the year.

Drawing on its extensive costume collection, the society is presenting an exhibit that mirrors the fashions worn by the hit show’s characters, from their beaded tea gowns to glamorous flapper dresses, elegant wedding gowns to hats, purses and gloves.

A step into the sun-filled exhibition room finds your mind happily racing from one charming item to the next. Doesn’t that stunning satin-and-lace wedding gown remind you of the one Lady Mary wore? Can’t you imagine Lady Edith donning that crocheted silver cap? And wouldn’t dear-departed Lady Sybil have smiled in solidarity upon seeing that woman’s suffrage poster, one of the pieces of historical ephemera also featured here?

Nancy O’Neil, the society’s chairman of the collections committee who kindly toured me through the exhibition, told me it’s all been designed to show that the fashions of England during that era were also reflected in New York, including Chappaqua.

Visitors, she noted, should plan to look really closely, examining everything from the intricate beading to the precisely detailed stitching on the featured clothing and accessories.

“They’re just so rich in detail, you really have to see the items,” she said.

O’Neil shared that the exhibition was sparked when she was watching the show and noted Mary’s wedding gown.

“I saw it on TV, and I thought ‘We’ve got a dress like that,’ and that started the whole process.”

And the exhibition has also been a first, she added.

“We have never displayed anything from the ’20s and ’30s and that’s one of our primary goals, to get our collection out where people can see it.”

I’d have to say they’re well on the way to that goal with this show.

The society is headquartered at The Horace Greeley House, 100 King St. For more details, including exhibit hours, visit

Those in search of their own “Downton”-worthy fashions and accessories may also want to note the society hosts the 45th annual Chappaqua Antiques show from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Nov. 2 and 3 at Westorchard Elementary School. For complete details, again visit

And finally, if you’re further spurred and want to cross the pond to experience the “Downton” era, veteran journalist Elaine G. Flores, my longtime friend and former colleague (whose name you may recognize from our WAGwit column), is affiliated with a company that’s at the ready.

In her words: “Sterling Silver Tours, which combines pop culture and international travel, was born out of a love for ‘Downton Abbey.’ Throughout the summer and fall, the company books theme tours to London, which include a tour of the costume shop used by the show; a visit to Highclere Castle, which doubles as Downton and a private audience with guest speakers who offer behind-the-scenes details.”

For more, visit

Plenty to see and do indeed, but I’m still counting those days…


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