No, Lord Grantham from Downton Abbey is not interred at Green-Wood.
But there is something of a connection between Green-Wood and Downton Abbey. At least there is for me.
Just about every year, in March, I drive down to Washington for an antique photo show. I have collected stereoscopic views of New York City, and Green-Wood Cemetery, for about 35 years now. In fact, my interest in Green-Wood views is what first made me aware of the magic of the place. I was at Green-Wood–transported by photographs from the 1860s–long before I visited it for the first time in the 1980s.
I must say, I do love Washington. Great museums–I am, in particular, a great fan of the National Portrait Gallery–where I always can visit with the images of dozens of Green-Wood’s permanent residents. And there are great places to stop along the way–a great decoy museum in Havre De Grace, the “Dog House” for hot dogs and fries, a wonderful arboretum–Longwood Gardens– in Kennett Square, and Winterthur in Wilmington, Delaware.
Now, I realize that many of you have heard of Winterthur. But it is a spectacular place–a house museum created by Henry Francis du Pont. And what an amazing place it is! Lovely planted grounds, a house of 175 rooms, and the greatest collection of old interiors and American antiques anywhere–more than 90,000 objects.
So, last year, in March, I headed down to Washington for the antique photo show and stopped at along the way at Winterthur. I have been there many times, so, rather than take the introductory tour, I signed up for an advanced one. When I presented my ticket, I was told to stand aside–while all of the other visitors headed into the museum. I wondered what I had done wrong. But, it turns out, Carole, a docent, soon appeared, and shepherded me in. I was the only one who had signed up for that tour. Carole and I spent the next hour or so on tour. And, somehow or other (she must have twisted my arm!), I happened to mention to her that I was the historian at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brookyn, New York. Carole was interested; both she and her husband Dick had family lots at Green-Wood. That was quite a coincidence!
At the conclusion of the tour, I told Carole that, if she and Dick ever came to visit Green-Wood, I would be happy to show them around. Several weeks later, they took me up on that offer, and we had a great time touring the cemetery.
That, I thought, was it. However, a few weeks ago, Carole contacted me, explaining that Winterthur would be hosting an exclusive exhibition, “Costumes of Downton Abbey,” and I was invited to come visit. Now, I must admit, I had not seen a minute of Downton Abbey at that point. But, I checked with a friend, who had not seen a moment either, and we launched ourselves into Downton Abbey. I had to admit–it is quite a series. I’m a fan!
And the exhibition was equally impressive. It was very well done, mixing video clips from the show, dialogue printed on the walls, photographs, and costumes. The curators linked the aristocratic estate of Downton Abbey to the aristocrats who lived on the great estates in America–including Winterthur.
“Costumes of Downton Abbey” opened in March and will run through January 4, 2015. Winterthur expects 100,000 people to visit it. You still have time . . .