Even after twelve years and a move from television to film, the world of Downton Abbey is still beloved by so many the world over. There’s something so satisfying about the Crawley family and their exploits as the world changes around them – and that’s never been more apparent than in Downton Abbey: A New Erathe second film of the franchise, out on Blu-ray and DVD today.
Directed by Simon Curtis, the film follows the beloved Crawley family as the outside world comes to Downton to shake things up. On one hand, the Dowager Countess (Maggie Smith) has been bequeathed a villa in the south of France by a mysterious benefactor, leading the family on an adventure outside their comfortable grounds to figure out just what it means for the matriarch, and why she would have been left property in the first place. Meanwhile, Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery) is left to hold down the fort as a Hollywood film crew comes to the abbey, only for her to be dragged into the chaos after the world decides that “talkie” films are in.
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel across England and experience the phenomenal beauty of the world of Downton Abbey? Well, look no further, because Collider has your all-access pass. A New Era was filmed in a number of stunning locations across the UK and France – including Highclere Castle, the iconic location used for Downton Abbey itself – and Collider was lucky enough to take a trip with Universal Home Entertainment to a number of the film’s shooting locations across England. . (No trip to the south of France, but perhaps that’s better for my complexion anyhow.)
Check out our full itinerary below, and make sure to pick up a copy of Downton Abbey: A New Era on DVD, 4K Ultra HD, and Blu-ray now to entertain yourself on the trip!
Relax at Down Hall Hotel & Spa
If you’re going on a trip, you’re going to need a home base, and what better place to spend your evenings than Down Hall Hotel and Spa, located in Bishop’s Stortford, about an hour north of London. After landing in the city, take a trip out to the Italianate style mansion, where you can relax in style, and in history, in a former family mansion that’ll make you feel like proper English royalty – appropriate for anyone looking to immerse themselves. in the aristocratic world of Downton Abbey.
The building itself was completed in 1873 under the supervision of Lord Rookwood, and was used as a hospital, a school, and a conference center throughout the 20th century, but the existence of Down Hall as an estate dates all the way back to the reign. of Edward the Confessor (1042-1066), predating even William the Conqueror in English history. As it exists now, the hall employs the concept of “polite” architecture popular in the late nineteenth century, but the stunning chandeliers, portraits, and marble staircases that decorate the hotel are anything but austere. The hotel’s rooms are cozy enough to make you feel properly fancy, and the grounds offer plenty of options for relaxation, whether that means a massage in the Eden Spa or a turn about the grounds in their immaculately-kept gardens.
Take a Turn About the Grounds at Belchamp Hall
Obviously, Highclere Castle is the major must-see for any die-hard Downton fan, but there’s another family home that features in Downton Abbey: A New Era that is certainly worth seeing if you’re passing by. Used as part of the exterior reception shots for Tom (Allen Leech) and Lucy’s (Tuppence Middleton) wedding at the beginning of the film, Belchamp Hall is a stunning Queen Anne period home in Sudbury, near the southeastern coast of England. Registered under the Historic Buildings and Ancient Monuments Act of 1953, the Hall and its grounds have been owned by the Raymond family since 1611 – can you imagine living in the same home as your ancestors?
We were lucky enough to have a picnic on the Hall’s grounds, decorated with era-appropriate tents and decorations and featuring a reception lunch fit for a lord, but what’s even more interesting is the structure of the house itself, whose dining room is paneled with wood from the Elizabethan era, with panels taken directly from the Tudor house that used to be on the grounds where the red-brick hall now stands. Family photos in the sitting room are accompanied by portraits painted by Cornelius Janssen and Thomas Gainsborough, creating a fascinating mix of old and new.
Experience History at the Church of St. Mary’s
Just across the way from Belchamp Hall is the Church of St. Mary’s, the location used for Tom and Lucy’s wedding ceremony. A still-operating church that was once part of the Belchamp Hall complex, the quaint place of worship is the ideal place for a wedding or a simple visit, with its tiny churchyard filled with headstones older than most people can imagine. Enter through a picturesque wooden archway at the side of the building, and you stand within a space so old you can feel it, with wooden pews that are likely older than most people who sit in them. The oldest parts of the church date back to the eleventh century, though most of the structure is from the thirteenth century, with stunning stained glass and murals that were restored in the 1960s.
While St. Mary’s is still an operating place of worship, it’s also lovely to have a wander in to feel the history of the place – a history that includes film and television, as the church was used not only to film Tom and Lucy’s nuptials, but also an episode of the British television series Lovejoystarring Ian McShanein the late 1980s.
Have an Evening Meal at The House By Hilly Gant
While the meals in Downton Abbey: A New Era are probably fancier and more complex than most of us normal tourists can afford, a trip to England would not be complete without experiencing authentic British cuisine – and not the kind they sell in the Heathrow international departures terminal. Housed in a real 18th century, Grade II listed building, The House By Hilly Gant is the perfect place to stop on your way to and from Downton-related sightseeing. Opened in 2015 in Braintree and owned by Rob Elythe restaurant celebrates British-grown food and local, traditional recipes, with a focus on a memorable dining experience led by head chef Sam McGee.
Open Tuesday through Sunday, The House by Hilly Gant serves a variety of delicious meals, from risotto and chateaubriand to mussels, pork collar, and Sussex halloumi, and also features an extensive vegan menu for anyone looking beyond the typical fare. To celebrate Downton, of course, we were served a delicious, traditional English dinner, complete with Scotch egg, fish and chips, and sticky toffee pudding, and personally? I’ll be thinking about that meal for months.
Take in the Scenery at Wrest Park
If you want to “visit” the south of France but do not have the budget for that pesky flight across the English Channel, look no further than Wrest Park, an English Heritage site located in Bedfordshire. Their orangery – a nineteenth century greenhouse used to grow oranges – was used as the filming location for the villa party at the end of Downton Abbey: A New Erasubstituting a protected historical site for the real thing.
But Wrest Park is so much more than just the orangery, though its history along with the rest of the grounds is impressive. The massive home that sits on the ninety-two acre site was built in 1833 by Thomas, 2nd Earl de Gray, after he inherited the site, and while most of it is not open to the public, the rest of the park’s grounds are . Take a tour through the massive estate and learn about the history of the woodland gardens, which were commissioned by Henry, Duke of Kent and finished by his granddaughter Jemima, Marchioness Gray, who hired Capability Brown to create the massive longwater pool and remodel the park. into the state that it exists in today.
Downton Abbey: A New Erastarring Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Hugh Dancyand Dominic West, is streaming on Peacock now, and available on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and DVD wherever physical copies are sold. Check out the box art below: