Visit The Real Downton Abbey

The ITV drama series Downton Abbey has taken the world by storm. The period drama portrays the lives of the Crawley family and their servants and the trials and tribulations of their magnificent home. The story is set in North Yorkshire but the locations where the three series were filmed are actually mostly to be found much farther south. If you’d like to experience the world of Downton Abbey for yourself here are the places you should visit.

The Abbey

Downton Abbey itself is actually Highclere Castle which is near Newbury in Berkshire. The castle is used for the exterior shots and most of the interior filming of Downton and was in the mind of Julian Fellowes when he started to write the series. The house is open to the public during the Easter and Summer holidays as well as some bank holidays but such has been the interest in the venue post Downton Abbey that tickets for some dates can sell out months in advance. On touring Highclere you can visit the state rooms on the ground floor and some of the bedrooms on the first floor. Many of the rooms, the furniture and the iconic oak staircase will be familiar to fans of Downton Abbey as will the extensive grounds which you can also enjoy after your tour.

Below Stairs

The scenes below stairs, servants’ quarters and some of the bedrooms of the main house were actually filmed at Ealing Studios and so cannot be visited. The sets which were constructed at the studios included a recreation of a servants’ staircase at Highclere.

The Village

The village used in the show is Bampton, Oxfordshire. This small village now receives many visits from Downton enthusiasts who come to see St Mary’s Church where Lady Mary married Matthew Crawley and also the library whose entrance was used in the show as that of the military hospital set up in the village to cope with the wounded from the First World War. Mrs Crawley’s house is also situated in the village although the interior scenes are filmed elsewhere. The village locals are used as extras for filming in the show and they are apparently expecting property prices to rise in the village as a result of the popularity of Downton Abbey.

Other Locations

There are many scenes from the First World War trenches featured in the series and these were filmed near the village of Akenham in Suffolk. The fictional stately home Haxby Park, which was the estate publisher Sir Richard Carlisle intended to purchase as a home for himself and Lady Mary, is in fact part of Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire. The house can be visited between late May and late October. Duneagle Castle, the setting for the 2012 Christmas special is actually Inverarary Castle near Loch Lomond in Scotland. The castle can be toured from late March until Late October and is the ancestral home of the Duke of Argyll. Greys Court in Oxfordshire was used as the Crawley’s second property Downton Place. The house is situated 3 miles from Henley-on-Thames and is open from March until October. The Dowager Countess’s home is Byfleet Manor in Surrey but this is a private home which cannot be toured. Finally the prison scenes were filmed at Lincoln Castle.

Worth A Visit

The filming locations of Downton Abbey are fantastic attractions in their own right and well worth a visit even if you are not a fan of the program. If you are an enthusiast you will greatly enjoy the familiar scenes that will unfold before you.

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Guest author Sally Stacey is a big Downton Abbey fan and is lucky enough to not live too far away from the real thing! Sally is writing for National Furniture UK, retailer of high quality Oak living furniture, perfect for recreating that Downton feel in your very own home.

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