Our latest episode of Sit Down with the Stars featuring the cast of Downton Abbey (2019) took us on location to the Abbey itself in the serene country side of Newbury just two hours outside of London. The true name of the castle used for the set of Downton Abbey is Highclere Castle—a massive estate sprawling over 5000 acres of the beautiful English landscape.
During my time on set, I was graced with the presence of Downton Abbey royalty, Laura Carmichael (Edith Pelham) and Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley), and had the chance to explore every corner of the expansive grounds! So join me as I go over the six biggest takeaways from my trip to Downton Abbey (one for each season of the iconic show).
Matthew Hoffman and Laura Carmichael (Edith Pelham) on set for Downton Abbey (2019)
1. The Cast is as Charming as I Had Hoped
Interviewing Laura Carmichael and Elizabeth McGovern for the highly anticipated Downton Abbey movie inside the (gasp) real Downton Abbey was an experience I will never forget. We sat down with Laura in the iconic library surrounded by lights, cameras, and 5,650 books—it was surreal. Our interview with Elizabeth took place in the Drawing Room, where she dished on all things Downton amongst all the history of this iconic location.
2. The Abbey Is MASSIVE, but Feels Quite Small.
I am aware this next sentence may seem very strange. . . but the Abbey did not feel as big in person as I thought it might have! Highclere Castle (where Downton is set) is of course MASSIVE and clocks in at a whopping 30,000 square feet with over 300 rooms, but what was most surprising to me was that each room felt very small and intimate—if you can believe that!
3. GET OFF MY LAWN!
If your dog ran away at Downton Abbey, you would watch it run away for a very, VERY long time. The castle sits on 5,000 acres. I repeat. . . 5,000 acres. To put that into perspective, Central Park is only 840 acres! The property that surrounds Highclere is nothing short of massive, and quite literally goes as far as the eye can see. The grounds are breathtaking and, yes, it took a lot for me not to scream “Get off my lawn!” to everyone who passed by.
4. The Abbey Is Actually a Private Residence.
When you are in Downton, you are constantly reminded that although this is where the movie is filmed, it is very much a private residence. It is actually a family home to George Herbert, The 8th Earl Of Carnarvon. As you walk through each room you can’t help but to be transported back in time. The Castle is just as beautiful in real life as it is on screen and is more than ready to make its big screen debut!
Matthew Hoffman on set for Downton Abbey (2019)
5. I Got to Sit on the Downton Bench!
Walking the grounds around the castle, I spotted the actual bench where Mary has had many iconic and important scenes! It was something so simple amongst all the grandeur of the grounds, but I could not believe it was actually still really there and can’t wait to see if the bench makes a scene-stealing cameo!
6. What is a Weekend?
We will all find out together “What is a weekend...” when Downton Abbey hits Regal tonight! Until then—enjoy our exclusive interview from Downton Abbey below!