It’s Take Two for Hampshire’s Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey, as the Crawleys return to the Big Screen for an eagerly awaited movie sequel in 2022.
Film crews were back at the stunning country house earlier this year as the familiar faces from the TV and silver screen smash hit returned to star in a new movie, set for a delayed cinema release in March 2022.
And news of Downton Abbey’s cinema return comes as a survey reveals how UK-based TV shows have helped drive tourism – with the top two ‘set jetting’ locations being Cornwall’s Port Isaac, for ITV’s Doc Martin, and Highclere Castle for Downton Abbey (https://bit.ly/3gN0RSQ).
For fans waiting for the hotly anticipated second movie, heading to Hampshire offers a chance to follow in the footsteps of Hugh Bonneville, Dame Maggie Smith and Jim Carter by stepping inside the real Downton Abbey.
The Castle – the real life home to Lord and Lady Carnarvon – must be one of the world’s most recognisable stately homes, thanks to its role as the location for the worldwide TV smash hit for all of its six seasons, as well as the original movie.
Now Highclere, which has been the seat of the Earl of Carnarvon since 1679, is set for more silver screen stardom.
Both exterior and interior shots were filmed on location at Highclere, with the great hall, dining room, library, music room, drawing room, salon and some of the bedrooms all regularly appearing on the show or in the movie.
So far, secrecy surrounds the plot and title, and while most of the original cast are expected to return, there has been no confirmation about whether Dame Maggie Smith will be back as Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham.
The movie was due to hit cinema screens this Christmas, but Covid delays pushed the release date into next year, with the film now expected sometime in March 2022.
But in the meantime, fans can experience their own Downton Abbey magical moment by touring the ‘set–jetting’ location with guided tours throughout the autumn and a special “The Magic of the Movies” event, complete with tours, a costume exhibition, jazz band, vintage cars – and a chance to dress as your favourite Downton character (11 and 12 September 2021).
Steeped in history, and set in grounds landscaped by Capability Brown, the present-day Castle was designed in 1842 by Sir Charles Barry, the architect also responsible for building the Houses of Parliament in Westminster, it is built on an ancient site, with the original house recorded in the Domesday Book.
The Castle’s history also includes a fascinating connection with ancient Egypt, as the 5th Earl, with Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in 1922. The Castle now houses an exhibition that commemorates this historic event, including some rare antiquities from the 5th Earl’s earlier Egyptian excavations.
For more information on visiting the Castle, see www.highclerecastle.co.uk