Six Incredible Historic Sites in Yorkshire That Appeared in the Downton Abbey Movie

by eHeritage Blogazine
December 9, 2021 | 7 min read

Six Incredible Historic Sites in Yorkshire That Appeared in the Downton Abbey Movie

For a County as large as Yorkshire, it should come as no surprise that its beautiful country estates, historic houses, and incredible landscapes, have been used as filming locations for many film and TV productions, over the years. Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire, and many of the counties historic locations and landmarks have previously featured in the popular TV series.

Downton Abbey was a massively popular period drama, set in the early Twentieth Century in Yorkshire. The show followed the exploits of the wealthy Crawley Family, and the challenges they faced in an age of Social upheaval and a decline in large country houses.

With the Downton Abbey Movie about to hit the big screen, it seems this tradition of using filming locations in Yorkshire is set to continue. Although not officially confirmed which locations have been used for filming, i’m taking a look at six historic locations in Yorkshire likely to appear in the new Downton abbey Movie. And, every one of these film sets can be visited!

Castle Howard, York

No Yorkshire based period drama would be complete, without the magnificent Castle Howard having some sort of involvement. Famous for two TV adaptations of Brideshead revisited, and ITV’s popular TV drama ‘Victoria’, Castle Howard is one of the finest stately homes in the UK. For the first time in 2019, Castle Howard also hosted BBC Countryfile Live.

Castle Howard has a history spanning over 300 years, and having taken some 100 years to be considered complete, the design of the house has evolved somewhat. Its iconic asymmetrical appearance is a consequence of the original Baroque design merging with that of later Palladian architecture. The result is a magnificent house with superb landscaped gardens and a genuine world class appeal.

Its not known entirely at present, how Castle Howard will feature in the Downton Abbey movie, however with stupendous landscaped gardens, a stunning domed great hall featuring art work by Pellegrini, and stunning interiors, Castle Howard should be easily recognisable and is sure to make an impression.

Castle Howard is open for visitors for much of the year, and entry to the house and gardens costs £20 for adults and £11.50 for children aged 4 – 16. National Trust members get in for just £15. At Christmas, the house is decorated in celebration the festive period and is absolutely beautiful. Its definitely worth a visit.

Harewood House, Leeds

Harewood House is a stunning Country House situated in Harewood near Leeds. Build between 1759 and 1771 by the plantation, and slave owner Edwin Lascelles, 1st Baron of Harewood, the house is one of the finest stately homes in Yorkshire.

Like Castle Howard, Harwood House will also be familiar to fans of the ITV series ‘Victoria’ where it doubles as Buckingham Palace. The house has  beautiful landscaped gardens, spanning 100 acres, and today features an educational bird garden and an adventure play ground, making it a great day out for families.

We know from the Downton Abbey movie trailer, that Harewood House’s  South Terrace is used during a dance scene, however we can expect the beautiful Parterre and perhaps also the kitchen to feature in the movie. The kitchen was quite heavily used in the production of Victoria.

Entry to Harewood house costs £15 for adults and £8 for children, although you get a discount if you book in advance via the website.

Hovingham Hall, near Malton

Hovingham Hall might come as some surprise, as the this little known country house is not particularly well signposted. The Hovingham Hall estate however is nestled in the Howardian Hills, a designated area of outstanding natural beauty, making it a stunning location with plenty of movie appeal.

The Hovingham Hall estate has been in the ownership of the Worsley family for 450 years, and is the childhood home of the Duchess of Kent. Interestingly, the house is built around the old stable block which once formed part of a riding school, where Thomas Worsley taught George lll to ride. A cricket ground situated at the front of the house is slated as being the oldest in England!

It hasn’t been officially announced where filming took place, but I am sure this unique and beautiful country house and estate will be easily recognisable when the movie airs later in September.

This beautiful house and Estate is privately owned by Sir William and Lady Worsley, who open up to visitors throughout June each year. Tickets cost £11 for adults and £5 for children over 5. Check out their website here.

Wentworth Woodhouse, Rotherham

With over 300 rooms, and an East front spanning 606 feet, Wentworth Woodhouse in Rotherham is considered to be the largest privately owned house in the UK, and one of the longest country houses in Europe. This magnificent stately home was built between 1693 and 1750, by Thomas Watson-Wentworth, 1st Marquess of Rockingham, and was later inherited by the rich and influential Fitzwilliam family. Today the house is  owned by The Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust and is a popular visitor destination.

Wentworth Woodhouse is known to have some of the finest Georgian era interiors of any other house in England,  and once would have had lavish and vast pleasure gardens which have since disappeared. The Downton Abbey movie is actually inspired by the Royal visit of George Vl to Wentworth Woodhouse in 1912. It should come as no surprise then, that Wentworth features in the trailer, with the Marble Saloon being used as a lavish ballroom. Expect Wentworth Woodhouse to feature heavily in the up and coming movie.

Wentworth Woodhouse recently opened up to the public with various guided tours introducing visitors to the house and gardens. Expect to pay around £22 for adults and £11 for children. National Trust members get a 50 percent discount. Visit the website here.

Ampleforth College, Ryedale

Considered one of the most prestigious Catholic boarding schools in the Country, and run by Benedictine monks, Ampleforth College was once attended by Downton’s creator Julian Fellows. With an Abbey, college and school all on one site, the campus boasts a stunning collection of listed buildings. Sadly, Ampleforth has featured in the news for all the wrong reasons recently and its reputation has taken somewhat of a knocking.

Scandals apart, with a history dating back to 1802, Ampleforth would make a superb backdrop to any period drama. It is not clear to what extent Ampleforth will feature in the Downton Abbey movie, but it is sure to fit in somewhere and we will have to wait for the movie to find out for sure!

Ampleforth is absolutely free for visitors, with the Abbey, shop, tea room and sports centre all accessible. Find out more here.

North Yorkshire Moors Railway, Pickering

Image from North Yorkshire Moors Railway. See link below

The North Yorkshire Moors Railway, is an incredible volunteer run steam railway, based out of Pickering in Ryedale. The railway operates on 18 miles of track between Pickering and Whitby, and takes guests through the heart of the North Yorkshire Moors National Park.

The steam Railway has featured in a vast amount of film and TV productions, including Downton Abbey the TV series, Brideshead Revisited, and the Harry Potter movies, and will likely feature heavily in the Downton Abbey movie. Certainly the opening credits of the trailer feature the steam railway and it, along with its numerous stations, are sure to feature heavily in the final Movie.

The steam railway is absolutely beautiful and is fully accessible to the public. Passengers can experience the full journey from Pickering to Whitby and others in between. Special events also run throughout the year, including the Christmas themed Northern Lights Express. For more on the railway click here.

A friend of mine shot a drone video of the steam railway. If you want to get a flavour of the steam railway and the stunning scenery check out his fantastic video here

Ok, there you have it, six Yorkshire based filming locations from the up and coming Downton Abbey Movie. Obviously much of this is speculation at this time, but we will see after September 13th the extent to which these stunning locations have been used. I have written much of this article from my own knowledge, and from living local to several of these locations, please see links below however for further references.


North York Moors National Park. Check them out here

The Yorkshire Post can be viewed here

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I’m Mikey Holden. I have a real passion for historical places. I’ve always loved visiting colossal houses and castles, daydreaming about the schemes that have been thought up within their walls, keen to discover the stories waiting to be told. I am a heritage travel blogger with a simple mission: To discover, explore and photograph historical places in Yorkshire and beyond.

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