‘A royal luncheon, a parade, and a dinner?’ says Mrs Patmore, quite perturbed. The trailer for the new Downton Abbey movie outlines the challenges ahead for the aristocratic Crawleys and their servants, as the king, queen and their royal entourage descend on the grand house. The award-winning Downton Abbey TV series, set in the period of 1912 to 1925, sparked the imaginations of travellers everywhere wanting to experience Earl and Countess of Grantham-levels of luxury. With the upcoming release of the movie (in UK cinemas 13 September), here’s our guide to the filming locations that you can actually visit.
Highclere Castle (Downton Abbey itself)
Highclere Castle, the filming location for Downton Abbey itself, is in the English countryside between Bath and London, geographically nowhere near the fictional Yorkshire town of Downton. It’s home to the real-life Earl and Countess of Carnarvon who open the castle and gardens for themed tours, afternoon teas and events at different times throughout the year. The Christmas ball is a decadent affair. Tickets can be pre-booked online, with a limited amount of tour tickets available for sale on the day – be sure to check the online schedule in advance of visiting.
For those interested in ancient Egypt, head to the Egyptian Exhibition in the cellars at the property. This includes artefacts from Tutankhamen’s tomb, the discovery of which was funded by the 5th Earl of Carnarvon.
Bampton, Oxfordshire and Lacock, Wiltshire (the town of Downton)
Parts of the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire and National Trust-owned Lacock in Wiltshire are used for external scenes in the movie, all contributing to the creation of the chocolate-box village of Downton. In Bampton, you can mill around the village green, visit the Post Office, or stroll through the village churchyard. In Lacock, try to spot the exterior of the cottage that doubles as the Grantham Arms.
Buckingham Palace, London
The exterior of London’s iconic Buckingham Palace, is used to represent the palace in the movie, where it is home to King George V and Queen Mary. In real life, these days it’s the main home of Queen Elizabeth II. When Her Majesty is on summer holidays, the State Rooms are open to visitors (also some days through winter and spring). These decadent rooms are used by the Royal Family for official occasions and ceremonial events. Expect to see exquisite furniture, elaborate decor and treasured artworks from the Royal Collection.There are 19 State Rooms in total, and whilst the filmmakers would have you believe parts of Downton Abbey were shot here, no filming actually took place inside Buckingham Palace. Interior scenes were filmed at Wrotham Park in Hertfordshire (closed to the public) and Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham instead.
If you’re satisfied with viewing the exterior of Buckingham Palace only, coincide your visit with the free Changing of the Guard Ceremony, where the Old Guard, supported by music played by military bands, hands over responsibility for guarding the palace to the New Guard.
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Harewood House, Yorkshire
Harewood House in Yorkshire, built in the 18th century, is the real-life location of Harewood House in the movie. It holds an impressive fine art collection and is open to the public throughout the year. Tour the State Rooms, including the drawing room where scenes from the Downton movie were shot, and head below stairs to the huge stone kitchen with vaulted ceiling, which gives an insight into how the kitchen staff running a large house would have worked. The gardens are over 100 acres, and include large landscaped sections, a lake, pleasure grounds and a kids’ adventure playground. The grand house also hosts open-air cinema, workshops and performances.
Wentworth Woodhouse, Rotherham
The ballroom in Wentworth Woodhouse stands in for the ballroom at Harewood House. The house also doubles as the interior of Buckingham Palace. Visitors to Wentworth Woodhouse, which is approximately 10 miles from Sheffield, can join a one-hour guided tour of the formal rooms, or discover the private rooms to learn more about the aristocratic families who lived here. The grounds include monuments, lakes and a deer park. Garden tours run from March through to September.
Beamish Museum, County Durham
Scenes filmed at the open-air Beamish Museum depict Mr Bakewell’s shop and York Car Showroom. The museum offers an insight into industrial life in the northeast during the 19th and 20th centuries. Visit the bank, shops, homes and a pub of an Edwardian town, take a ride on a steam train, or get your hands dirty with a visit to a colliery community.
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