Downton Abbey, the British historical drama created by Julian Fellows has captivated audiences across the world since it first aired in 2010. Not only is it the most watched TV show on ITV, but also holds the record viewing figures for PBS in America.
The TV series is set in a fictional North Yorkshire country estate (believed to be near Ripon) and follows the aristocratic Crawley Family and their domestic servants in the Post – Edwardian era. Downton Abbey aired for 6 series and 52 episodes, but in 2019 a one off film Downton Abbey – The Movie came out to rave reviews.
The film is set in 1927 and depicts a visit by the King and Queen to the Yorkshire estate of Downton Abbey (actually filmed at Highclere Castle in Berkshire – down South). But part of the plot also includes the real life visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Harewood House as part of their Yorkshire Tour to visit their daughter Princess Mary, who had married Henry Lascelles – the 6th Earl of Harewood.
Downton Abbey – The Movie features lots of Yorkshire locations and our Downton Abbey Yorkshire Tour features visits to some of these key sites.
The Tour can be done as a 1 day or a 2 day driver guided tour.
1 Day Driver Guided Tour – This is a very full day where we cover two of Yorkshire’s finest stately homes. In the morning we travel out to Castle Howard, whilst not one of the actual locations from the film – this baroque palace in the Howardian Hills is typical of one of the grand houses the North Yorkshire aristocracy lived in. The house which has been home to generations of the Howard family since 1702, holds extensive collection of artworks and sculpture, has an impressive Grand Hall with domed roof as well as an Arts and Crafts Chapel which very special.
The afternoon will be spent traveling to the wonderful Harewood House, a key location in Downton Abbey – the Movie. Here we can find out more about the real life of Princess Mary the wife of Henry Lascelles and the Queen’s daughter. The grand house has extensive grounds and a bird garden which we will explore after taking a tour of the house. Scenes were shot both in the house, at the front and on the grand Terrace.
2 Day Driver Guided Tour – Having 2 days to explore Yorkshire allows us more time to visit other Downton Abbey – The Movie locations.
Day 1 – we visit Castle Howard as with the 1 day itinerary, but then travel through onto Pickering Railway station which played Kings Cross in the movie.
From here we will go cross country via the North Yorkshire market town of Hemsley with its medieval castle to Thirsk (home to the famous Yorkshire Vet James Herriot), before travelling back home via Ripon – one of England’s smallest cities and where Downton was supposed to be set.
Day 2 – we stop to visit Harewood House as per the 1 day itinerary, before travelling down the M1 to Rotherham to visit one of Yorkshire’s other grand stately homes – Wentworth Woodhouse.
In the movie, after the Downton Abbey visit, the King and Queen travel to Harewood House and a Ball is laid on with dancing in their honour. Whilst The Terrace at Harewood House is used within this scene, the actual ball was filmed at Wentworth Woodhouse.
In one of the key scenes from the movie, over 150 extras danced alongside the cast in the 1920’s Ball sequence filmed in Wentworth Woodhouse’s Marble Salon, an opulent ballroom at the Grade 1 Listed Mansion.
The Marble Saloon was the grandest of Wentworth's staterooms, and in 1912 guests actually witnessed one of the most significant moments in the house's history when ballerina Anna Pavlova danced for King George V and Queen Mary during their royal tour of Yorkshire. Their visit was the inspiration for the plot of the new Downton Abbey movie.
Wentworth Woodhouse, was the historic home of the Fitzwilliam family, and is the biggest private residence in the UK, sitting within 87 acres of gardens & grounds and boasting the longest facade of any house in Europe – at 185 metres, twice the length of Buckingham Palace.
There will be plenty of places to stop for refreshments and other interesting locations to see on the way. These tours are great days out for the Downton Abbey fan!