Cheekwood Estate and Gardens

The Dressing Downton exhibit wasn’t the only thing to see at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens. We also got to tour the mansion, and enjoy the various gardens on the grounds of the estate.

The limestone house was finished in 1932, and was modeled after English country estates admired by the Cheek family when they traveled abroad. The estate is named after Leslie Cheek, who purchased the property and commissioned the building of both the house and gardens, and his wife, Mabel Wood Cheek.

You get a sense of the mansion as soon as you enter the building. There is a grand staircase with a beautiful tapestry hanging above it:

When you go upstairs, there are a variety of rooms to explore. The table in the dining room is set, and looks like it’s ready for a grand meal:

The morning room looks like a pleasant place to enjoy a cup of coffee, and there are also a few displays detailing the family’s history:

The library may have been my favorite room. So many books, a lovely spot to write letters, beautiful furniture, and even a game table!

The parlor is lovely, and the ceiling is amazing!

The upper floor of the house is now being used as galleries, so you can’t tour the bedrooms that were once there. There are a few Cheek family mementos on display, however, including the family silver chest:

The grandest feature of the home may be this light:

There are so many beautiful details scattered throughout the home…chandeliers, mirrors, vases, and more!

The outisde of the house is quite imposing:

The grounds immediately around the house look like something from a movie…the views are spectacular!

The rest of the estate has other gardens as well. In the water garden there is a pond that used to be the family swimming pool:

We were especially interested to see how the Japanese Garden compares to the one here in St. Louis. It’s not nearly as big, but it does have some features that ours doesn’t, including a bamboo forest:

The color garden, which was in full bloom when we were there, really lives up to its name!

I’m so glad we were able to visit this beautiful estate through our Missouri Botanical Garden membership. If we have time, we may even go back in the spring, when over 100,000 tulips are in bloom!

Dressing Downton

I first heard about the “Dressing Downton” fashion exhibit, featuring costumes worn on Downton Abbey, almost two years ago, and didn’t think much of it, because it wasn’t going to be on display in St. Louis. But when I found out that it was going to be in Nashville this summer, at Cheekwood Estate and Gardens, a place that we have a reciprocal membership to through the Missouri Botanical Garden, I knew I was going to have to see it for myself. I wasn’t disappointed…not only were the costumes on display gorgeous, there were more of them than I was expecting!

The first big display of three costumes, in front of a Highclere Castle backdrop, was especially eye-catching.

The Dowager Countess’ Edwardian mourning costume is, in my opinion, an iconic early Downton Abbey look:

Lord and Lady Grantham’s outfits are also easily recognizable:

In that same room was Lady Mary’s riding costume:

We moved on to wartime looks worn by Matthew Crawley and Lady Mary:

And a lovely tailored outfit also worn by Lady Mary:

I loved seeing Branson’s chauffeur’s uniform next to a lovely blue suit worn by Lady Sybil:

And, of course, Lady Sybil’s nurse’s uniform:

Lady Edith may not have been my favorite character, but the detail on her coat was amazing, and I liked the use of props in the display, too:

And, while we all remember Lady Sybil shocking the family in her harem pants outfit, let’s not forget that Lady Edith also wore breeches when she was working on the farm:

We then moved on to more formal wear. This beautiful evening dress worn by Lady Mary had amazing details:

Another wartime look, featuring a dress uniform worn by the Earl, and lovely dress and jacket worn by the Countess, were especially eye-catching flanked by a Union Flag bunting:

There were also lots of informative signs spread throughout the exhibit:

I was glad that there was a section dedicated to the wardrobe worn by some of the downstairs staff. I especially enjoyed seeing how the keys attached to Mrs. Hughes’ uniform:

And not only did I get a look at the maids’ uniform, but also another beautiful evening dress worn by Lady Mary:

We saw the “plus fours” worn by Lord Grantham when he was out and about on the estate, as well as a three-piece suit and coat worn by the scheming Sir Richard Carlisle:

The security guard working at the exhibit when we were there was very knowledgeable…he informed us that this detailed dress, worn by Lady Cora at Lady Edith’s (non)wedding, was made from a vintage tablecloth!

This dress, also worn by the Countess of Grantham, likewise had amazing details:

There was one, and only one, hands-on section. You could actually ring the Downton bells…and we all did!

It was especially interesting to see the one maternity dress on display, worn by Lady Sybil, up close:

Lady Rose may have denied being a flapper, but that’s the first thing that comes to mind when you see this dress, displayed next to the formal wear Jack Ross wore when performing:

This dress worn by Virginia Woolf, which was barely seen on the show, is full of Tambour embroidery work, but I was most impressed by the Bakelite necklace:

Remember when Lady Rose was presented to King George and Queen Mary? There was an entire room dedicated to that episode, and it may have been my favorite…all of those fancy dresses, beautiful tiaras and jewelry, and lovely accessories! This was also the room that explained the Cheekwood-Downton Abbey connection. Huldah Cheek, daughter of Leslie Cheek, who built the estate, was presented at court in a similar fashion.

The lavender dress worn by the Countess of Grantham was displayed with the dress worn by Madeline Allsopp, along with all of their beautiful accessories from tiaras to necklaces to feather fans:

Freda Dudley Ward’s unbelievably intricate dress was also on display:

After all that, Lady Edith’s boyish silk dress was almost boring…but not quite, thanks to the lovely embellishments:

Another beautiful dress worn by the Dowager Countess…seeing clothing actually worn by Maggie Smith truly brought a tear to my eye!

This dress worn by Martha Levinson wasn’t too amazing, but the necklace paired with it certainly was!

And another of Mrs. Levinson’s styles, featuring a coat trimmed with fox fur:

The final costumes were not in the exhibit itself, but spread throughout the mansion at Cheekwood. We saw a footman’s uniform, and I made sure to pay close attention to the buttons:

And white tie apparel worn by Matthew and Lady Mary, appropriately displayed in the formal dining room:

This was an unbelievable exhibit, and I’m so glad we had the opportunity to see it. The workmanship that went into the costumes is truly amazing, and seeing the level of detail up close was an experience. It brought one of my favorite TV shows to life in a way I didn’t know was possible!

Adventure Science Center

This summer, we have really been taking advantage of our membership to the St. Louis Science Center, and we haven’t even been to the Science Center since May! On Memorial Day, we used our reciprocal membership to get into the Museum of Science and Industry in Chicago for free, and in June, we were able to obtain free admission to the Adventure Science Center in Nashville!

Our favorite exhibit was the first one we walked through…Body Quest. What’s not to love? You can walk into a brain, play a laser game to defeat germs, and explore the interior of ambulance:

But the children’s favorite part of that exhibit was learning about the digestive system. There was not a tooting slide or anything:

Moving on…Turkey loved getting to use a lever to lift an entire car!

And because we’re Markels, we all loved the space exhibit, as well.

I even found some more space propaganda:

And who doesn’t love a plasma ball?

There was also a giant tower to explore and climb:

Our Science Center in St. Louis is still our favorite science museum, but we’ve really enjoyed getting to visit other museums this summer!

The Museum of Science and Industry

When we were in Chicago last month, we visited the Museum of Science and Industry, which was always one of my favorite Chicago locations:

I had managed to forget how huge it is, however! We only had about five hours to spend there, which meant we went at breakneck speed to see and do a lot of things, even through we knew we’d never see everything. One of the first things we did was go through the mirror maze, which I found terrifying, because I was certain we were going to lose a child in there! It did look cool, though!

We slowed down long enough to watch the Tesla coil demonstration:

There was so much more to see. In addition to touring the special Lego exhibit, we also spent a good deal of time admiring Colleen Moore’s Fairy Castle,¬†and went on the U-505 tour.

All that was just the tip of the iceberg! We checked out some of the trains, (including a cool model train story depicting travel from Chicago to Seattle), saw the chicks (including one that had just hatched!), played with a plasma globe, took in as much space stuff as we could, watched how a robot assembly¬†line works, and even visited Yesterday’s Main Street. There is seriously so much there!

I was especially tickled to run across one of the “Cows on Parade” from the art installation that was popular in Chicago so many years ago!

It was a fun, busy day…I only hope that someday, we can go back, and see some of the things we missed!