Just as in previous seasons, the latest episodes will feature a mix of romance, drama and intrigue, including the ongoing relationship between the newly engaged Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley, the hardships of John Bates, the imprisoned valet of Robert Crawley, the Earl of Grantham, and the arrival of Countess Cora Crawley's steely American mother, played by Oscar winner Shirley MacLaine.
To stay in the spirit of the series, we found ways that you can indulge in some Brit-inspired fun in the Hudson Valley. Here are places where you can partake in a traditional afternoon tea and visit a local estate.
Try an afternoon tea service
Shirley Hot, who was raised in London and Worcestershire, opened Cup and Saucer in Beacon 10 years ago and has been serving customers a taste of England ever since (165 Main St., Beacon; 845-831-6287; www.facebook.com/126285295858).
From 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily (except Tuesday), the Beacon shop offers a tea service worthy of the Countess Dowager. Customers have their choice of about 80 types of tea, including British brands PG Tips and Typhoo, which is served with tea sandwiches, homemade scones and cream (called crème de maison) and assorted miniature desserts. The experience is $21 for one person or $38 for two. In addition to the tea service, the Cup and Saucer menu features typical British fare like beef or chicken cottage pies, baked beans on toast and Welsh rarebit.
What's more, Cup and Saucer will host two "Downton Abbey"-inspired suppers in March: one with an "upstairs" theme and the other with a "downstairs" theme. Hot said that details will be available shortly on the venue's Facebook page. And for those looking to bring a bit of England into their homes, the small boutique area sells a variety of English teas and biscuits.
Silver Tips Tea Room in Tarrytown also offers a daily afternoon tea starting at 11 a.m. (3 N. Broadway, Tarrytown; 914-332-8515; silvertipstea.com). Opened 13 years ago, Silver Tips serves a traditional tea service, which includes a pot of tea, tea sandwiches, scones and authentic English clotted cream, presented in individual 1 oz. containers. The service is $17 per person or $22 for a larger dessert selection.
Housed in a converted former tailor shop dating back to 1833, The Village TeaRoom in New Paltz similarly offers an afternoon tea served from 11 a.m. throughout the day (10 Plattekill Ave., New Paltz; 845-255-3434; thevillagetearoom.com). The tea service, $22 for one person or $40 for two, is served on a traditional three-tiered stand, the bottom filled with finger sandwiches, the middle featuring scones with clotted cream and jam and the top made up of cookies and other sweet treats.
Tour a grand estate
The Hudson Valley is home to quite a few grand estates that date back to the Gilded Age, the same time period chronicled on "Downton Abbey."
The Vanderbilt Mansion National Historic Site in Hyde Park is one of the oldest estates in the area (119 Vanderbilt Park Rd., Hyde Park; 845-229-7770; www.nps.gov/vama). It served as the country residence for Frederick W. Vanderbilt and his wife Louise, who lived there in the spring and fall. Just as "Downton" depicts a large staff of housekeepers, butlers and other servants serving the Crawley family, a staff of about 60 people tended to the Vanderbilts and their estate when they lived there. Guided tours are available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily, but are limited from November through April.
There are other regional estates, too, that are closed in the winter but worth checking out when the weather is more seasonable: Lyndhurst in Tarrytown (635 South Broadway, Tarrytown; 914-631-4481; lyndhurst.org), Kykuit, the Rockefeller estate, in Sleepy Hollow (381 N. Broadway, Sleepy Hollow; 914-631-8200; www.hudsonvalley.org/historic-sites/kykuit) and Boscobel in Garrison (1601 Route 9D, Garrison; 845-265-3638; boscobel.org).
The third season of "Downton Abbey" airs at 9 p.m. Sundays on WNET/13.