Tuesday, 6 October 2015

Downton Abbey Series 6

The last series of Downton is proving a hit in my house.  Sundays episode had plenty of feel good factor.   Mr Carson looked like the cat that got the cream. Anne's glowing, I do hope she manages to stay pregnant and then have the baby. I can't wait to see Bates face when she tells him. Most of all I'm glad to see some new love interest for lady Edith. Perhaps with Toms return there might be a love triangle brewing?  I am loving the continued banter from the Dowager Countess, she is just one of my favourite characters and is played just effortlessly by the great Maggy Smith.  I noticed they hinted at Mr Grantham's health and I have a prediction that he will end up loosing his life leaving Mary to take over running of the house. 

Well it's all very exciting and I can't wait to watch the rest, but will be terribly sad when its over.  This series is shaping up to the best in my opinion.

I recently went on a Downton Abbey Tour with my mother.  She has been a big fan from the start so when she had a birthday early on in the year, buying her tickets for a Downton Abbey Tour seemed like a great idea. She was over the moon and very excited as was I.

The tour run by PandP tours began at Oxford train station where we all met and then were whisked off to Bampton town which doubled as Downton Village. My mother and I really loved this little town and it was a bit like stepping back in time. The village was regularly used throughout each series and is home to two fictional pubs - The Grantham Arms and The Dog and Duck. First we visited St Mary’s Church which hosted all the weddings, funerals and christenings in the series. The church is a beautiful old Norman church with a ladies only chapel which was used in the series.

Next to the church is the tiny green which was used for the Downton Fair and the war memorial in series 5. In real life this green is just tiny so it must be clever filming which makes it appear much larger in the series. Right next to the green is Churchgate House, the old Bampton rectory which was used for the exterior shots of Isobel Crawley's house. Then we walked a few feet to the old Grammar School building, which now houses Bampton library. The exterior shots were used as the as Downton hospital and today you can go inside and see a selection of Downton Abbey memorabilia including cards, mugs, pictures and a town map. Next to that is a lane which is in the series leads up to Downton Abbey, but the actual castle or country house rather is a few miles away.

Next stop was the highlight...  visiting Highclere.  They didn't allow photographs to be taken inside the house but I got a few outside.  The house is exactly like the show but surprising smaller looking.  The rooms, paintings and furniture are exactly the same but look a little worse for ware than they do on the TV.  The red sofas in the library for instance are looking a little warn in real life.  For tours they have cordoned off sections of the house so you have to follow the trail. 

We didn't see the kitchen or servants' quarters because these were constructed and filmed at Ealing Studios.  But we could see the door they used to go through as if they were going downstairs.  There is also an Egyptian Exhibition which costs extra to go in but we decided not too.  We were there purely as Downton Fans. There is a gift shop and 3 cafes where you can grab some lunch.  As we had already eaten we opted for tea and scones.

After a small walk around the gardens we headed back to the coach.  It was one very memerable day and I recommend any Downton fans going on a tour.

Sadly P&P is not running anymore, but they worked very closely with Brit Movie Tours where you can go on a number of tours with them including visiting Highclere.   Having seen Highclere and Bampton I may book up and do the Downton Abbey Locations Tour of London here 

I may even watch the whole series again as its been fantastic TV and I will be very sad when it finishes later this year. Fingers crossed they will bring out a Downton Abbey Film for the big screen next year.