The Crawleys. Carson. Bates. Distant cousin Matthew. And, of course, Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham. After six seasons, Downton Abbey left its mark on television and, as a result, Sunday nights will never be the same. For those fans who would like to see where the magic took place, here are some of the top filming locations which we can include in any England Vacation itinerary.
Of course, this list must start with Downton Abbey itself, ably played by Highclere Castle. Highclere Castle is a 5000-acre Jacobethan country house in Hampshire England. Lancelot “Capability” Brown designed the park. Highclere Castle is the country seat of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, and has been since 1679. Visitors to the castle can wander the expansive grounds as well as explore several rooms both upstairs and downstairs. Do not miss the Egyptian Exhibition throughout the cellars.
Downton Village was filmed in the Cotswolds at beautiful Bampton. Churchgate House, the old Bampton Rectory, was used for the exterior shots of Isobel Crawley’s house. St. Mary’s Church is where Edith was jilted at the altar by Anthony Strallan. And the Bampton Library served as the hospital and doctor’s surgery. Bampton itself has been settled since the Iron Age and the town is listed in the Domesday Book. Historically a market town, today Bampton is a civil parish.
Horsted Keynes Station
The Downton Abbey Railway Station was filmed at the Horsted Keynes Station in West Sussex. It is where Mary waved Matthew off to war and where young Mrs. Crawley goes into early labor. The station is on the Bluebell Railway heritage line. The London Brighton and Southcoast Railway built the station in 1882. The Bluebell Railway restored the station to the mid-1920s period.
Byfleet Manor was the filming location for the private residence of the Dowager Violet. Many a victim fell to her sharp tongue and quick-witted comebacks here. Byfleet Manor is an ancient property. There is a written reference to the property dating from 727 and the Domesday Book lists the manor in 1086. The manor house as it stands today was built around 1686 and restored in the early 20th century. The property recently sold for £6 million – nearly £2 million above the asking price.
Brancaster Castle, hired by Rose’s father-in-law, Lord Sinderby, for the grouse shooting was filmed at Alnwick Castle. The Grantham’s dinner with Bertie Pelham and his family was also shot here. The grounds, State Rooms and semi-ruined Hule Abbey featured prominently. Alnwick Castle has been home to the Percy family for over 700 years and today is the family home of the 12th Duke and Duchess of Northumberland. The castle was also used for filming some of the Harry Potter movies.
West Wycombe House
When the Crawley daughters had a problem, they usually went to their aunt, Lady Rosamund, for help. Her home, 35 Belgrave Square, was filmed at West Wycombe House. West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire has been home to the Dashwood family for over 300 years. It was built by notorious libertine Sir Francis Dashwood in the 18th century. The home was meant to be his pleasure palace, and as such was built as an ornate Palladian structure. The house was given to the National Trust in 1943, though the Dashwoods continue to occupy the house.
The interior scenes of Grantham House, especially during the social season, were filmed at Basildon Park. Here Rose was presented at court and Edith reconsidered leaving her illegitimate child in Switzerland. Basildon Park sits on 400 acres of parkland and gardens. The house was built between 1776 and 1783 for Sir Francis Sykes in the neoclassical style. It was never fully completed and passed through a succession of owners until Lord and Lady Iliffe bought the house in the 1950s and carefully restored it.
When Matthew and his mother first arrive in Downton, they stay at Mrs. Crowley’s private residence. Many battles of wits with the Dowager also took place at Mrs. Crowley’s. That residence was filmed at Hall Place. Hall Place was built in 1537 for Sir John Champneys. Sir Robert Austen extended it in 1649. The original house was built of stone, but the extension was built of brick, resulting in a distinctive, clearly contrasting house.
The Christmas special with Matthew, Mary and their new baby was filmed at Inveraray Castle, better known to Downton fans as Duneagle Castle, home to Lord and Lady Flincher. Inveraray Castle is located in Argyll in western Scotland. It is on the shores of Loch Fyne, Scotland’s longest sea loch. It has been the seat of the Duke of Argyll, Chief of Clan Campbell, since the 18th century. There are 16 acres of gardens and the estate in total covers 60,000 acres.
Cogges Manor Farm
First Mr. Drewe, then Mr. Mason were tenants of Yew Tree Farm. Edith regularly visited here to see her illegitimate daughter, Marigold. Here being Cogges Manor Farm. Once a working farm, Cogges Manor Farm is now a heritage center that gives visitors an insight into farm life. It depicts rural life in Oxfordshire during the Victorian era. The manor house is a Cotswold stone building dating back to the middle of the 13th century; the original kitchen and part of one hall have survived to modern times.
Lincoln Castle served as York Prison, where Mr. Bates was sent after he murdered his wife. Lincoln Castle is the oldest filming location featured on the show. William the Conqueror built a motte and double bailey castle on the site of a pre-existing Roman fort here in the 11th century. As a secure place, the castle was also frequently used as a prison. A gaol was built in 1787 and the castle remained in use as a prison until the mid-19th century.
Lady Rose gave her debutante presentation at Buckingham Palace during the 2013 Christmas special. As Buckingham Palace was unavailable for filming, Lancaster House stood in its stead. Lancaster House was commissioned in 1825 for the Duke of York and Albany, King George III’s second son, and was initially known as York House. The Duke died in 1827 and the house was purchased and finished by the 2nd Marquess of Stafford. The Louis XIV interiors and impressive art collection that make Lancaster House such a breathtaking place are attributed to him.
While Highclere Castle is the upstairs side of Downton Abbey, Ealing Studios is where the majority of the downstairs scenes are filmed. Scenes were filmed on Stages 3A and 3B, but once filming completed the sets were struck and removed. But even though the sets are gone, Ealing Studios is worth a visit in and of itself. It is the oldest continuously working studio facility for film in the world.
Get the oppportunity to explore Downton Abbey filming locations and drive a British classic motor car in the English countryside with our 5-Night Vintage England itinerary.