Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Touring Biltmore with tea friends

Before the Afternoon Tea I wrote about in yesterday's post, five of us had a great and busy day of exploring Biltmore House and Gardens, including some fun behind-the-scenes touring! In front of the Winter Garden are, from left, Linda, me, Phyllis, Lynn and Sandy.

The cover of this souvenir book includes the classic shot of Biltmore. When you first see the sweeping grandeur of the house, it nearly takes your breath away! I had been there before, and yet it continues to impress!

You enter here. On Linda's recommendation, we all purchased the audio tour, and like her, I highly recommend that! When I first visited years ago I don't believe that was available, so it very much helped me to see Biltmore through new eyes.

The sheer size of the 250-room mansion is just incredible, and I can never quite wrap my mind around the fact that George Washington Vanderbilt had the vision in the late 1800s to bring this house to life in western North Carolina. (With no internet to consult! And no iPhone to check in with his construction crew!)

And no, the Christmas wreath on this marble lion statue is not a sign someone forgot to take down the Christmas decorations! Biltmore was filming Christmas commercials while we were there, and it was quite fun to get a behind-the-scenes peek at how early they begin planning for the holidays.

After we finished the regular tour, invaded the gift shops and ate lunch, we cued up once more for a behind-the-scenes "Butler's Tour" we were greatly anticipating. I wish I had taken note of the last name of Marilyn, the charming lady who led our small group on this tour. She did a fantastic job of keeping it lively, interesting and fun. (Normally, I would rather have a root canal than go on a group tour. This one was quite the exception!) Here, we are on a balcony and had one of the rare opportunities to take photos, since they aren't allowed inside the house. (And you can just imagine how our group of bloggers would have been reaching for our cameras!)

After our behind-the-scenes tour, one unique thing we got to see was the Banquet Hall all decked out for Christmas (go here to see it in its "everyday" look) since one of the commercials was being filmed there! Ohhhhhh ... the china! The flowers! My friend Susan would have swooned at all the silver, glass, china and roses, and I mourned the fact I couldn't share it with her. Still, it was a sight to behold. And while I can't share those images, I *can* share a few links to photos that may be of interest to my fellow tea lovers! (Note to Biltmore: I would like to see a "Tea Lover's Tour" of the house, and I'll gladly drive up and create it for you sometime if you'd like!)

• To see George and Edith Vanderbilt's only child, Cornelia, with her little tea set, go here and scroll down to the bottom.

• To see the property's Tea House (which I did not know about, alas, until I got home and read my book), go here and here.

• If you'd like to see reproductions of some Vanderbilt china which you may purchase today, go here. (I'll bet you can guess which one of these items I got! I'll tell you tomorrow when I share some wonderful tea-related souvenirs I came home with.)


  1. Biltmore House is one of my fav. places to visit. The Greenville Gals went at Christmas when Ann was here from Scotland one time. Glad you got to see a taste of Christmas at Biltmore.
    I am so jealous of this whole trip you took w/ tea friends! Call me net time.
    We went to Chelseas but it was not "afternoon Tea" time so just had delicious slices of cake. Their savory offerings you got are certainly unusual..
    Enjoying your trip reports!
    BTW Sharon and I leave for Scotland Sun !!

  2. The BH is one of my most favorite places to visit. Joy and I were just saying last night at a Beta Sigma Phi tea that we need to check out that inn you visited! Road trip!!!

  3. I'd love to tour Biltmore but in the mean time am enjoying you showing us around.
    BTW, I just saw your post on tea apps - I received an iPod touch for my birthday in February so will definitely be checking them out.
    Have you found any more that you care to post about?

  4. Sounds like it was a wonderful trip!!!

    My guess is that you got the Miniature Tea Set???

  5. It has been years since I toured the Biltmore house... but your idea of a tea tour might just get me down there in a flash! Good idea, Angela!

  6. I thoroughly enjoyed your post again today, Angela. It's neat the way each of our blogs are sharing different aspects of the Biltmore. Thanks for the links about the tea house. We'll have to see that next time!

  7. I love visiting Biltmore House. One of these days I'll go during the holidays. It was fun that you got to see some of their Christmas decor this early in the year. Your photos are great.

    Looks like you had a fabulous trip with tea/blogger friends.

  8. I can't even imagine that this was a "home" - oh my!

  9. Love Biltmore House. We plan to take the boys when they are older. If they take you up on your tea tour offer, I'll be fist in line. LOL

  10. 'ooohs and ahs,' Angela!

    Another great reporting job and great photos - wow! I have a suggestion for you:

    If HGTV needs 'an authority' on Tea...I nominate YOU! I think an HGTV special, 'tea-themed' on Biltmore would be most interesting...
    You would be just the person that could tie all the information together...Thanks for sharing all the sights & sounds of Biltmore,

  11. What a lovely trip and even lovelier group of women!!!

  12. I'm drooling over these pictures. So jealous!


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