While it’s common knowledge that Highclere Castle in Hampshire provides the magnificent backdrop for the series Downton Abbey, London also features heavily in this popular drama. It was the location for the 2013 Christmas special, ‘The London Season’ and has also been used for many meetings, secret trysts and events, especially those of the young Downton ladies, not to mention as the scene of the still unsolved murder of Green, the valet who raped Anna Bates.
Lady Rose’s London
Prior to wild child Lady Rose’s marriage to Atticus Aldridge, son of Lord and Lady Sinderby, Rose MacClare loved to party and have fun in London. We see her presented at Court at Buckingham Palace during the 2013 Christmas special, although for filming purposes, the nearby Lancaster House provided the setting for the debutantes’ ball. We’re also introduced to a number of London hotspots as we follow Rose’s night time adventures in the jazz clubs of the twenties and her secret assignations with Jack Ross, the black jazz singer. The famous Savile Club in Mayfair was used for the interior shots, and even to this day, women aren’t allowed to be members there, although they are allowed to visit with their husband or other male members.
Rose was also seen at her cousin’s bachelorette party at one of London’s oldest restaurants, Rules, a former oyster bar located close to Covent Garden. What’s more, London was used as the location for a tea dance attended by Rose which, in the series, took place in the Jubilee Dance Hall in York. In fact, the scene was filmed in Hoxton Hall, a former East End music hall, which has donned many guises since the Victorian period, including a gospel hall, an air raid shelter and a wedding venue.
Lady Edith’s London
London was the venue for Lady Edith’s escapades, including her ill fated, whirlwind romance with married magazine editor, Michael Gregson. They are shown meeting at King’s Cross Station, although these scenes were filmed at St. Pancras, and proved a little difficult to get right due to the constant noise in the station. If you take a look at the meeting, you’ll see that Edith stays pretty much tight lipped until they actually leave the station, on account of the background noise.
The famous Criterion Bar and Restaurant on Piccadilly is also featured in the drama; it’s the place where Edith and Michael first share a kiss, and also the place where Michael announces his plans to go to Germany in order to divorce his wife. Of course, as we know, Michael never returns.
Gregson’s flat is located in a stucco fronted Victorian villa on one of the tree lined streets of popular Notting Hill. Filming for this took place in Chepstow Villas, with the production team having to import furniture and redecorate the house completely to accurately reflect the period.
Lady Rosamund Painswick’s London
The Earl of Grantham’s sister, Lady Rosamund, has one of the most prestigious addresses on one of the grandest and largest squares in London, Belgrave Square. However, the filming for all the internal scenes takes place in West Wycombe Park in Buckinghamshire, while external shots are filmed in Eaton Square.
If you’d like to visit some of these iconic locations and discover some of the secrets of Downton’s London, why not book a place on the latest addition to our Downton Tours, Downton Abbey Locations Tour of London. Starting at St. Pancras Station, you’ll get to see all the places featured in the drama in the company of one of our knowledgeable tour guides.