Where was Downton Abbey filmed?

If you’ve found yourself hopelessly immersed in the upstairs downstairs world of the award-winning historical drama, you’ll love visiting these filming locations. 

From Downton Abbey to Downton village, take yourself on a dramatic journey through Britain…

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England
Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England © VisitBritain / Pawel Libera

 

Downton Abbey:

Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England  

This castle makes a dramatic first impression – and so it should, it was Downton Abbey in the glamorous period drama. Set in 1,000 acres of parkland, the Victorian-built manor house remains home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, whose family have lived on the site since 1679. Downton Abbey author, Julian Fellowes is a longstanding family friend and actually had Highclere in mind while penning the series.

At the castle you can experience Downton life first hand: sip tea in the café, stroll the park and gardens designed by Capability Brown, and admire the castle’s sumptuous interiors - many of which were used for filming. Just make sure you buy your entrance tickets in advance, as it’s a popular place to visit! Be sure to time your trip right too, as the castle is only open to visitors during the summer months. 

 

Dancing in the library:

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland, England 

In the most recent series of the drama, Alnwick has appeared as Brancaster Castle. In the 2014 Christmas special, Lady Mary and Henry Talbot were seen dancing in the library. The family were invited by Rose’s father-in-law Lord Sinderby for a grouse shooting party, but scandal ensues. 

Don’t forget to check out the Downton Abbey exhibition, which shows off some of the photography, costumes and props used in filming.

 

Lady Sybil and Branson’s love nest:

Swinbrook, Oxfordshire, England  

The Cotswolds, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, is north of Highclere, and in series 2, it was the site of scandal when Lady Sybil eloped with Branson, her chauffeur. The pair went to Swinbrook in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds, and filmed at the Swan Inn, a boutique pub which makes for an idyllic base from which to explore the area.

 

Village of Downton:

Bampton, Oxfordshire, England  

Also in the Cotswolds you’ll find the picturesque village of Bampton, where many of the exterior scenes of Downton Village and Crawley House were filmed. You’ll notice lots of familiar sites such as the church, post office and pubs (actually made up of local residents’ homes). 

Next door to the post office is Bampton Community Archive, which posed as the hospital in Downton. Inside you’ll find lots of memorabilia from the drama, including souvenir mugs and handy town maps.

Stop off at Bampton Coffee House for an English cream tea or head to Biztro, for a refined yet contemporary lunch. 

Inveraray Castle, Argyll and Bute, Scotland
Inveraray Castle, Argyll and Bute, Scotland © VisitBritain / Andrew Pickett

 

Bates’ prison cell:

Lincoln Castle, Lincolnshire, England  

Did he or didn't he? Season 3 sees John Bates locked up in York prison for murder. On closer inspection, however, the prison is actually Lincoln Castle, a couple of hours south of York

Lincoln Castle is the oldest of all the locations featured in Downton Abbey. It’s home to the Lincoln Magna Carta, which dates back to 1215, as well as the Charter of the Forest, a 1217 document that ensured England's forests weren't taken over by the aristocracy.

 

Lady Rose’s tea dances:

Hoxton Hall, London, England  

Remember when Lady Rose let her hair down and went to a servants tea dance in episode 2? That was shot in this Victorian music hall in east London. With past incarnations including a gospel church, an art gallery and an air-raid shelter, Hoxton Hall is now a vibrant performance space showcasing modern music, theatre and more.  

 

Picnicking in the park:

Kensington Gardens, London, England  

Rewind to Downton’s 2013 Christmas Special where we saw Cora’s brother Harold, Madeleine and William Allsopp, Martha Levinson and Violet having a jolly picnic in the park in front of the Albert Memorial. The golden gothic structure was commissioned by Queen Victoria in memory of much-missed husband Prince Albert when he died in 1861. It took 10 years to build. 

Pick up some lunch from one of the many delis and cafes in nearby Notting Hill and recreate the scene yourself. Afterwards, perhaps you’ll care for a stroll around the rest of the grounds which include an 150-year-old ornamental water garden. 

The glorious gardens were once the private grounds of Kensington Palace – the childhood home of Princes Harry and William. If you’ve got little ones in tow, take them to the Diana Memorial Playground, they’ll love clambering about on the enormous wooden pirate ship. 

 

Crying over Christmas pudding: 

Inveraray Castle, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

For the 2012 Christmas special, Inveraray Castle became Duneagle Castle as the Crawley’s headed north for a dramatic weekend with Rose and her feuding parents. A grand dinner was held in the State Dining Room – starring the dazzling family silver of real-life residents, the Argylls. 

The castle - home to the Duke of Argyll, his wife and children – makes for a fabulous day out. From the opulent tapestries and paintings of the interior to the 16 acres of formal lawns, flowerbeds, park and woodland. 

 

Down on the farm: 

Cogges Manor Farm, Oxfordshire, England  

There’s pastoral charm a-plenty at this working family farm. Known as Yew Tree Farm in Downton, it was the home of Mr Drewe and his family who took in Lady Edith's child, Marigold, in series 5.

After taking a Downton-themed tour of Cogges manor house and grounds you can feed veg to the farmyard animals. They have pygmy goats, Shetland ponies and 3 guinea pigs called Inny, Rosie and Poppy.

Or, if you’d rather feed yourself, head to the farm shop and choose from a yummy selection of sandwiches, soups and homebaked cakes. 

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