Downton Abbey movie cover Movie Locations Guide

Where was Downton Abbey filmed?

About Downton Abbey

Julian Fellowes is responsible for introducing audiences to the cult-favorite period drama Downton Abbey. The show’s events unfold at the dawn of the 20th century against the backdrop of the fictional Yorkshire estate, Downton Abbey.

At the center of it, are the Crawley family, who are members of the aristocratic society, as well as their domestic workers. The post-Edwardian era drama explores how the great events that happened between 1912 and 1926 affected their lives. A subliminal plot point is how the different affairs impact the British social hierarchy.

Some of the recurring events that weaved into the premise of the series include news about World War I in 1914, the sinking of the RMS Titanic in 1912, and the outbreak of Spanish influenza in 1918.

The mid-1912 Marconi scandal, the Irish War of Independence, the Teapot Dome scandal, and the 1923 British general elections were other historical events depicted in the show.

The ‘70s show Upstairs, Downstairs explored the class divide and interactions between the nobles and their servants. It reportedly served as one of the inspirations for the show. While the captivating storyline kept viewers tuned in, the ensemble cast gets the credits for making the show popular beyond its time on our screens.

Hugh Bonneville, who you might have also seen in the 1999 comedy film Notting Hill, portrayed the Earl of Grantham/ Robert Crawley. Dame Maggie Smith is one of the show’s most recognizable faces and she portrayed Violet Crawley, Robert’s mother.

Beyond being a fan-favorite historical series, Downton Abbey earned lists of accolades. That includes a Primetime Emmy, Golden Globe Award, and a Guinness World Record entry.

Like all good things, the series aired its final episode in 2015 after a six-series run starting in 2010. In 2019, a film adaptation of Downton Abbey was released followed by a 2022 sequel dubbed Downton Abbey: A New Era.

City Locations

Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Yorkshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Northumberland in England

Location Types

Victorian, Colonial, Castles

Location Styles

Castle/Chateau, Gothic/Victorian, Mid-century

Downton Abbey Locations

The series is set in the fictitious Downton estate in Yorkshire but filming took place on-location at various locations around England. Several places in Oxfordshire, Hampshire, Yorkshire, West Sussex, Wiltshire, Northumberland, and Berkshire served as Downton Abbey film sets.

Several aristocratic mansions, as well as culturally-rich historical locations, lent their grounds for the production. Part of the Waddesdon Manor was used as the setting of the fictional Haxby Park that Sir Richard Carlisle wanted to buy in Series 2.

The scenes of the Dower House, Violet Crawley’s residence, were filmed at Byfleet Manor. The Buckinghamshire-based Chiltern Open Air Museum was the backdrop for the scenes when Lady Edith learned to drive a tractor.

The Savile Club located in Mayfair, London was the setting for some of the Series 4 scenes. For the 2013 Christmas Special, production took place at Basildon Park in Berkshire, the Royal Holloway and Bedford New College, and the West Wittering Beach amongst other locations.

Several of the TV series locations, including Bampton and Highclere Castle, were used to film the 2019 Downton Abbey movie. Some spoilers are ahead, but you simply must explore some of the fascinating locations where the best scenes in Downton Abbey were filmed.

Fun Fact:

Fellowes drew inspiration from several American shows when coming up with the structure for Downton Abbey. According to Rebecca Eaton’s 2013 memoir, Fellowes cited Chicago Hope, Thirtysomething, and E.R. as inspirations. He particularly liked how the shows masterfully depicted several stories that ran concurrently.

Meet the Crawley family scene in Downton Abbey

Highclere Castle, Hampshire

The series premiere episode introduces us to the Crawley family, their extensive staff, and their sprawling castle. That’s when they learn about the sinking of the Titanic and the loss of a distant cousin, who stood as the family’s heir.

It’s also the episode that featured one of the best zingers from Countess Grantham and Cora Crawley (Elizabeth McGovern). Cora asked, “Are we to be friends then?” Her mother-in-law replied, “We are allies, my dear, which can be a good deal more effective.”

Resting on 1,000 acres, Highclere Castle alongside its grounds served as the fictional Crawley family residence. The Victorian-built manor allows you to experience “Downton life” first-hand.

Visitors can explore the hallway, library, dining room, and drawing room which were all featured in the series. Perhaps even more exciting is the opportunity to have a look at the bedrooms and see where Lady Mary turned in at the end of each day.

The outdoor grounds, as well as the Egyptian exhibition, are other points of interest. Make sure to get your tickets early enough because they run out quite fast, and the castle is only open to visitors in the summer months.

Make your way to the Downton Abbey production location via the Line 85 or Line 7 bus.

The snowy proposal scene in Downton Abbey

Bampton, Oxfordshire

“Christmas at Downton Abbey,” the finale episode of Series 2 featured one of the show’s most awe-inspiring scenes. On a snowy day, Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens) got down on one knee and asked Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) for her hand in marriage.

After Lady Mary finally opened up about the late Kemal Pamuk (Theo James), Matthew told her “I haven’t forgiven you because…I don’t believe you need my forgiveness. You’ve lived your life. And I’ve lived mine. And now it’s time we live them together.”

The city of Bampton, Oxfordshire was a Downton Abbey filming location for the proposal scene amongst others. That’s also where they filmed the exterior scenes of the Crawley residence as well as the Downton Village.

It’s where you’ll find other familiar sites from the period drama like the Church View (used to film the pub scenes), Churchgate House (Isobel Crawley’s residence), and the post office. The Bampton Community Archive, located next to the post office, stood in for the Downton hospital.

You’ll also find St. Mary’s church which was the setting for several of the iconic and dramatic Downton Abbey scenes. The Bampton Archive houses selections of memorabilia from the show including town maps and souvenir mugs.

Other noteworthy Downton Abbey locations include the Bampton Coffee House, where you can grab a cream tea, and the Biztro Restaurant which serves contemporary lunch dishes. From Oxford, the Line 19 bus will get you to the city of Bampton.

Dancing in the library scene in Downton Abbey

Alnwick Castle, Northumberland

The finale episode of the fifth season titled “A Moorland Holiday” featured a memorable scene where Henry Talbot (Matthew William Goode) and Lady Mary danced in the library.

Lord Sinderby (James Faulkner) and Lady Sinderby (Penny Downie) had invited the Crawley family over for a grouse shooting party. The Sinderbys had rented the Brancaster Castle from Peter Hexham for the occasion.

That’s also when Lady Mary met Talbot, a race car driver who is Lady Shackleton’s (Harriet Walter) nephew. The pair hit it off and spend the day in each other’s company, culminating with the dance at the library.

Lady Mary, who was in the market for a potential suitor, said “I must be sure I am right to want this man, as my friend, as my lover, as my husband.”

Alnwick stood in for Brancaster Castle, and it’s where you’ll find the Downton Abbey exhibition which showcases the props, costumes, and photos used during production.

The historical grounds hosted the show’s film crew once again for the 2015 series finale. Filming took place in the State Rooms, the nearby St. Michael’s Church, and Bow Alley.

The X20, X15, and X18 buses from Newcastle will get you to Alnwick Castle. The castle is only four miles away from the Alnmouth Station (rail) and a mile away from the A1 (road).

Picnic in the park scene in Downton Abbey

Abbey Kensington Gardens

The 2013 Downton Abbey Christmas Special, titled “The London Season,” featured a scene where Countess Grantham, Madeleine Allsopp (Poppy Drayton), Martha Levinson (Shirley MacLaine), and Harold Levinson (Paul Giamatti), Cora Crowley’s brother, had a picnic at the Albert Memorial park.

For reference, it’s the episode when Countess Grantham complained about not having a servant at hand during her travels. Isabel consoled her saying that she would share her “knowledge of the jungle,” to which the Countess retorted “Can’t you even offer help without sounding like a trumpeter on the peak of the moral high ground?”

Kensington Gardens offered its grounds as a Downton Abbey production location for that particular scene. Queen Victoria commissioned the gothic structure in 1861 in memory of her late husband, Prince Albert.

You can recreate the scene by hosting a picnic lunch at the venue, which took a decade to construct. The nearby Notting Hill cafes and delis serve selections of delectable fares.

Crown off the day by strolling around the grounds, and the 150-year-old water garden is a great spot to take some photos as mementos. Formerly the childhood home of Prince William and Prince Harry, kids will enjoy stomping around the Diana Memorial Playground which features a wooden pirate ship.

Bus 9, 148, 70, 23, 52, and 49 as well as the Overground and TFL Rail will get you to Kensington Garden.

John Bates locked up scene in Downton Abbey

Lincoln Castle

The third season of the period drama depicts John Bates (Brendan Coyle) behind bars. He is said to be a guest at the York prison after getting arrested for murder.

The difficult experience is worsened when his cellmate plants drugs in Bates’ bunk in an attempt to get him in even more trouble. In the seventh episode, Bates is finally freed after Anna Bates (Joanne Froggatt) tabled evidence in the previous episode proving his innocence.

Bates has a checkered past and it wasn’t his first stint in prison. Saying that “prison was an education,” during his time locked up, he picked up on skills like forging handwriting and even pulling off the perfect murder.

Lincoln Castle provided the grounds for the York prison scenes. Dating back to the 11th century, the medieval Castle is the most ancient location that was featured in the series.

The iconic Downton Abbey filming location also houses the Charter of the Forest, which is a document drafted in 1217 granting the aristocracy ownership over England’s forests. You’ll also find the Lincoln Magna Carta at the Castle.

Bus 18, 7, 17, and 8 will get you to Lincoln Castle.

Christmas pudding crying scene in Downton Abbey

Inveraray Castle

The Series 3 finale episode titled “A Journey to the Highlands” saw the Crawleys set off to Scotland for a weekend getaway at Duneagle Castle. In true Downton Abbey fashion, it ended up being a dramatic weekend, with Rose getting into a feud with her parents.

It’s also the episode that spawned another favorite Downton Abbey quote when Lady Mary and Matthew reassured each other about where they stood in their marriage.“I hope I’m allowed to be your Mary Crawley for all eternity.”

Inveraray Castle served as the backdrop for the 2012 Downton Abbey Christmas Special. Residence of the Duke of Argyll, the State Dining Room hosted the grand dinner scene and the real-life residents’ family silver also made a cameo on the screen.

It’s a great choice if you fancy a day out exploring the Castle as well as the surrounding park and woodlands. The interior features paintings and opulent tapestries while the 16-acre grounds feature flowerbeds and formal lawns.

By bus, the Scottish Citylink offers a regular bus service from the Glasgow City Center to Inverary. Several Tour Busses including Timberbush and the Highland Experience can also get you there.

Conclusion

When coming up with an itinerary to visit Downton Abbey locations, schedule a stopover at the Cogges Manor Farm. Located in Oxfordshire, England, the working family farm served as the setting for the show’s Yew Tree Farm. In Series 5, the farm was the residence of Mr. Drewe’s family.

A day at the Cogges Manor includes feeding the farmyard animals vegetables. There’s also a farm shop where you can treat yourself to homemade cakes, sandwiches, and soups. An 18th-century country home in West Wycombe served as Aunt Rosamund’s (Samantha Bond) on-screen abode. You’ll find the Lancaster’s house located in London’s West End and The Swan Inn in Swinbrook, Oxfordshire was where Branson and Lady Sybil had their secret rendezvous.

The Criterion Restaurant located in Piccadilly, London, and facing Piccadilly Circus, is also worth a visit. It’s where they filmed the scene where Lady Edith Crawley met Michael Gregson for dinner.