This weekend, the Crawley family returns to theaters in Downton Abbey: A New Era. When the dowager, Lady Grantham, learns she has inherited a villa in the south of France, the Crawleys head to France to visit their newest ancestral home and uncover its secrets. Meanwhile, Downton becomes the set of a new Hollywood “kinematograph” movie when it comes to the estate to film–much to the annoyance of Lord Grantham.
With the sequel moving away from the green fields of England and the grounds of Downton, that means shooting locations had to be changed up. The Downton Abbey series is known for its picturesque settings and beautiful backgrounds, and its filming locations have become a favorite stop for tourists. However, if you can’t get to England or the south of France, we’ve rounded them all up for you. Here’s every major real-life place where Downton Abbey: A New Era was filmed.
Highclere Castle, Hampshire, England
Of course, no roundup of Downton Abbey’s filming locations would be right if they didn’t start with the iconic Abbey itself. In reality, Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England, is used as the location of the beloved Crawley family home. The 5,000-acre estate is hidden away in the Hampshire countryside and is owned by the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. The estate was most recently renovated in the 1840s, but its history goes back much further. The first accounts of the estate were written of in 749 A.D. when an ancient Anglo-Saxon king granted the lands to the Bishops of Winchester. King Edward VI confiscated it from the Church in 1551 during the English Reformation. In the centuries since, ownership of Highclere Castle and its lands have passed to many families, but Earl and Lady Carnarvon have had it for decades. They keep the house, Egyptian exhibit, and its gardens open to the public for paying tours, which helps them with upkeep of the old castle and its grounds.
Belchamp Hall – Suffolk, England
In the Downton Abbey sequel, Tom and Lucy are finally wed and their wedding takes place on another English estate. The backdrop of their nuptials was filmed at Belchamp Hall in Suffolk. While not dating back quite as far as Highclere Castle, Belchamp still has a storied history. John Raymond first bought the estate grounds and the original house in 1611, and the Raymond family and ancestors have owned and lived in it since. The original Elizabethan home was torn down and the current, red brick, Queen Anne style manor built in its place in 1720. However, the 13th-century church that’s also on the estate has remained untouched and still stands. Today, Belchamp Hall is available as a wedding venue, just as it is in Downton Abbey: A New Era.
Royal Yacht Britannia – Edinburgh, Scotland
But as noted above, the Crawleys don’t just stay in England in A New Era, heading across the Channel to France. The ship they sailed over on should look very familiar to Scottish people: the scenes were shot on the Royal Yacht Britannia. In reality, it’s permanently docked at Edinburgh, but before its retirement, it was used as a royal residence for four decades. While it was in use, it was part of almost 1,000 state visits and dinners by the royal family over the years. Today, it’s docked and open for tourists to visit, where they can learn all about its fascinating history.
La Villa Rocabella – Le Pradet, France
In the movie, Lady Grantham’s newly-inherited estate is known as the Villa of the Doves. In real life, the estate that stands in for the Crawleys’ new villa is known as Villa Rocabella. As one of the newer locations on the list, the Belle-Époque-style villa was built at the end of the 19th century by Jules Patin, who hired the architect Hans-Georg Tersling to execute his vision, which Patin envisioned as a meeting of “elegance and nature.” It started out as a home, then an art and literary salon, then a vacation spot for children after WWII. Today, it’s a lovely and historic hotel and event venue.
Wrest Park – Bedfordshire, England
Surprisingly, however, the outdoor scenes at Villa of the Doves were not also shot at Villa Rocabella, due to Covid travel restrictions at the time Downton Abbey: A New Era was filming. Instead, the country estate of Wrest Park in Bedfordshire was chosen to stand in as the grounds of Villa of the Doves in the movie. Wrest Park has been designated as an English Heritage site, and its 90s acres of carefully curated gardens and woodland trails are open to the public. The parks are dotted with classical statues, but the Long Water pool and Archer Pavillion, built in the early 1700s, are the crowning jewels of the main grounds.
Electric Palace Cinema – Essex, England
Of course, not all the action of Downton Abbey: A New Era takes place in France or at Downton Abbey. With the new silent picture being filmed at Downton, the movie’s producer and Lady Mary head out to watch a new “motion picture” at the local theater. That theater is the Electric Palace Cinema in Essex, which, at over 100 years old, is one of the oldest theaters built for silent pictures. The Electric Palace still has its original projection room and elegant front. Amazingly, it’s still in use as a movie theater today–perfect for watching Downton Abbey: A New Era.