The hotly-anticipated Downton Abbey film is set to grace screens September 20, and for fans of the show, there’s no better time to discover Britain. With filming locations dotted around south-east England, you can get inspired with our five-day itinerary and enjoy a Downton-themed road trip to remember.
Day 1: Highclere Castle, Hampshire
The iconic filming location for Downton Abbey is the perfect place to kick-off your film-themed journey around the south of England! Used to represent the home of the Crawleys throughout all six series in addition to the film, Highclere Castle is steeped in history. Trace the footsteps of the Crawleys, Anna and Mr Carson and wander ‘upstairs downstairs’, or take a guided tour from the Saloon to the Egyptian Room, discovering some of the filming locations.
Afterwards, why not don your glad rags and indulge in a quintessentially British afternoon with a day at the races? Located just a 20-minute drive from both Highclere Castle and the distillery, Newbury Racecourse was founded over 100 years ago and hosts 29 race days a year. With three restaurants and a variety of packages on offer, it’s a right regal day out.
Looking for accommodation fit for a Lord or Lady? Discover more at VisitHampshire
Day 2: Lacock, Wiltshire
Just an hour’s drive away lies the picturesque village of Lacock. Famous for its 13th-century Abbey, it’s also home to the house used to film the exterior of Carson’s cosy cottage. The village’s main street, Church Street, first featured in the final series of Downton Abbey as the location for the Malton Fat Stock Show, where Lady Mary’s favourite pig emerged victorious! Discover the town with a stroll along Church Street, making sure to call in at King John’s Hunting Lodge on the way. Originally owned by King John, the lodge has a history dating back to 1210 and the Magna Carta, and serves royally good food to boot!
No trip to Lacock would be complete without a visit to Lacock Abbey. A National Trust Property with a rich monastic history, the Abbey offers tours throughout the year. For fans of photography, the adjacent Fox Talbot Museum gives a fascinating insight into the life and times of William Henry Fox Talbot, photography pioneer, polymath and Lacock resident.
If you’re a green fingered enthusiast inspired by the gardens on Downton Abbey, Bowood House & Gardens is your next stop. Located just 20 minutes from Lacock, the gardens’ majestic parkland area was designed by iconic 18-century landscape architect Capability Brown and is among the most celebrated examples of his work. Take a tour of the house, explore the verdant lawns and the Italian-inspired terraced gardens, or enjoy a traditional afternoon tea at Bowood Hotel, Spa & Golf Resort.
Alternatively, take the short 15-minute drive to Great Chalfield Manor and Garden, a 15th-century manor house and National Trust property that’s a favourite with Hollywood directors. Only accessible by guided tour, the manor features a delightful Arts & Crafts garden complete with a rose garden, a spring-fed pond and several topiary houses.
Hunting down a suitably regal hotel? Discover more at VisitWiltshire
Day 3: Bampton, Oxfordshire
For Downton Abbey aficionados, Bampton is a must! Although situated in the heart of Oxfordshire, the pretty village has doubled as the fictional Downton village in Yorkshire throughout all six series and the forthcoming film. Explore Church View, the main street in Downton, take a wander to see the outside of Churchgate House, most recognisable as the home of Isobel Merton and visit the Old Grammar School Building, which posed as the exterior of Cottage Hospital. You can even enter the hallowed halls of St Mary’s Church, which has served as the backdrop to key scenes at St Michael and All Angels Church in the series.
Get another dose of Downton with a 20-minute drive to Cogges Manor Farm. With a history dating back to the 13th century, the farm features as Yew Tree Farm in Series 4, 5 and 6. You can take a tour and find out more about the stories behind the filming on Thursdays and Fridays throughout the year, explore the walled gardens and orchards, and even discover the islands and moat on a special River Windrush walk.
Seeking a Downton-inspired des res? Discover more at Cotswolds.com
Day 4: Blenheim Palace, the eastern Cotswolds
If you’re hungry for more stately homes and country villages in the style of Downton, take a 20-minute drive to the delightful Georgian town of Woodstock, famous as the gateway to Blenheim Palace. Although not featured in the film or TV series, the birthplace of Sir Winston Churchill is a masterpiece of 18th-century Baroque architecture that houses some of the finest antiques in Europe. Landscaped by Capability Brown, its 2,000 acres of parkland feature formal gardens, a lake, a butterfly house, and a giant hedge maze.
If you’re feeling peckish, why not explore the area a little further? Jump in your carriage for the 40-minute drive to the small riverside towns of Fairford, an ancient military town or Lechlade-on-Thames, a designated Area of Natural Beauty. Take a stroll along the river and satisfy your sweet tooth with an afternoon tea. Alternatively, head to Cotswold Water Park. With 150 lakes set over 40 square miles, activities on offer include kayaking, rowing and birdwatching.
Looking for a room upstairs/downstairs? Discover more at Cotswolds.com
Day 5: Various locations, London
After breakfast, the bright lights of London beckon. Enjoy a scenic two-hour drive to the city before taking a stroll through Green Park to see Buckingham Palace. Although the home of the Royal Family hasn’t directly featured in the TV series, in the Season 4 Christmas special its ornate interiors were represented by Lancaster House, located just a short stroll away. From July to the end of September, you can also take a guided tour of the State Rooms and discover a special exhibition celebrating the 200th anniversary of Queen Victoria’s birth.
All that sightseeing is bound to work up an appetite. If you’re keen to dine in Downton style, take a wander to 224 Piccadilly, formerly the Criterion Restaurant. Opened in 1873, the restaurant was one of the oldest in Britain and was a favourite filming location for both film and television series, not least Downton Abbey. It was here that Michael Gregson and Lady Edith discussed plans to marry and although the restaurant closed in 2017, you can still admire the building’s grand exterior before exploring the remaining delights of the city.
Want to live it up in luxury in London? Discover more at VisitLondon