“I hope you know that really smart people sleep in separate bedrooms” quote from Lady Mary Crawley, Downton Abbey, written by Julian Fellowes
Places and properties steeped in history, all naturally lit with a special light; landscapes with impossibly gorgeous views, streams and rivers that sparkle, market towns and historical cities that bustle and brim over with everyday goings-on. The Cotswolds offers up an amazing location for directors, producers and cast to make memorable films.
For many, September marks the start and leads to the very end of Downton Abbey, a period drama, watched by millions of viewers here, there, and everywhere. We have followed the highs and lows of the Earl and Lady Grantham above, and below stairs. Although Thirsk and Ripon in North Yorkshire was the supposed setting for Downton, many episodes were filmed here in the Cotswolds.
Pack a bag, preferably with a pair of well-fitted gloves, arrange for a car with chauffeur, be a perfect house-guest with your host at Cotswold Village Rooms and take a tour around some of the Downton village locations.
Cogges Manor Farm
Cogges Manor Farm is set just outside the market town of Witney in Oxfordshire and has 1,000 years of history to its name. This was the setting for the home of the Drewe family who looked after Lady Edith’s secret child, Marigold. It’s an atmospheric place to visit with step-back-in time buildings to explore, rural crafts and events going on throughout the season. There are ducks, pigs, and wandering farm cats, a kitchen garden and space to wander and sit under trees, café with home baked cakes, and friendly volunteer guides in costume often seen baking a scone or two on the griddle in the old kitchen. www.cogges.org.uk
The busy village of Bampton in Oxfordshire also doubled as the make-believe village of Downton and its surrounds. Wander around the village and away from the main road running through to spot some of the locations. Step into the lovely Church of St Mary which provided the setting for a number of Downton weddings, christenings, and family reflections. Many of the villagers in Bampton took part in the filming and no doubt have tales to tell.
This surprisingly hilly village not too far out from the medieval market town of Burford, has a pub, The Rose & Crown, a church and a chapel, gorgeous stone houses and a village ford and crossing to take the visitor up to more lovely homes tucked out of sight and reached by meandering pathways. The village was the setting for Lady Mary’s maid, Anna, and Lord Grantham’s valet, Bates, to meet together for a drink in the early stages of their relationship.
Owned by the National Trust, a beautiful country house with lovely gardens in Oxfordshire which date back to Tudor times. Greys Court doubles as Downton Place and second home to the Earl & Lady Grantham and referred to as being in Durham in the north of England. www.nationaltrust.org
The family home of the Earl & Countess of Carnarvon, Highclere Castle, near Newbury in West Berkshire played host to the filming of Downton Abbey throughout the series. Not too far from the Cotswolds, step into aristocratic life at the castle and see where the Crawleys played out their lives. Visit and tour the key rooms and explore the gardens and glorious parkland, set out by Capability Brown. Highclere is open to visitors up to 70 days a year. Before planning a visit, check out the Highclere Castle website for times of opening. www.highclerecastle.co.uk