Viator Tours offers a fabulous tour inspired by the much acclaimed Downton Abbey drama, through their ever popular Downton Abbey Television Locations and Blenheim Palace Tour. Don’t be mistaken into thinking that this tour is only for Downton Abbey fans. This tour is for everybody. Whether addicted to the series or not, this tour provides some fascinating insight to the English way of life and is a must for fans, history buffs, and those who just want a lovely day in the country.
Each location was steeped in history and brought the drama to reality. Sites such as Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen, the tiny village square that served as the location for the fair, the church where Lady Mary got married and the cemetary where Sir Matthew’s fiance was buried. The tour ends with a walk through Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO site, which has much history in common with the Downton Abbey location of Clereview Castle. Clereview, open to the public for only a few weeks of the year, was not open during my visit to London.
Our tour took place in an area called the Cotswold, an hour outside London, and just outside Oxford. We started at Cogges Manor Farm. This working farm is the site of Mrs. Patmore’s kitchen as well as many of the farm scenes from season four. It was amazing how much larger the kitchen and Mr. Carson’s office look on television.
Today, Cogges Farm operates as a heritage centre and is run by a charitable trust that ensures it is open to the public. Its aim is to give visitors an insight into farm life, and how the food they eat is husbanded or cultivated. Additionally, it provides workshops for school children and adults about food production, local history, horticulture and rural arts and crafts.
The lush gardens of Cogges are absolutely beautiful with an exquisite flower garden. The produce grown on site is sold to visitors. The wide array of organic produce includes exotic greens such as fennel, purple broccoli, jerusalem artichokes, kale and so much more. The farm animals take center stage on this farm, with pygmy goats, black pigs, ducks, shetland ponies and sheep. Our tour of the farmhouse included a stop in the parlour, where we had a chance to try on period costumes going back 1000 years.
Our farm visit was followed by a short drive to the village of Bampton, in the Cotswolds, where many of the outdoor village scenes were taped. This village is so well preserved that it was very true to itself in the Downton series. We stopped at the Crawley family home, the post office and the hospital during the war.
Our tour ended with a stop at the magnificent Blenheim Palace, the ancestral home of Sir Winston Churchill. Although this palace was not used as a Downton Abbey filming location, one can imagine the opulence and elegance that was standard for the upper crust of society. We took a walking tour that delved into the history of Winston Churchill’s ancestral home and exquisitely landscaped gardens, originally given to the first duke of Marlborough as a gift from the English Parliament.
In modern times, it seems perfectly fitting that people enjoy films and television programs set in another, more affluent age. Viator’s Downton Abbey television locations and Blenheim Palace tour provides a glimpse of another world.
Little Known Facts:
– The village pub was actually a village home – The shape of one’s hat indicated rank and social status
– When 2 households met for dinner, their maids would meet earlier in the day to be sure the ladies would be dressed appropriately and that there would be no clashes in their dresses