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England’s Storied Countryside

Andrea Gross | photos by Irv Green | Oct 3, 2012, 10:43 a.m.

How closely, we wonder, do sites used for filming the series compare to those we’ve just seen on our Insight tour. To find out, we turn to Robina Brown of The Driver-Guides Association, who drives us to the two main film sites: Highclere Castle (possible, although difficult, to reach by public transportation) and Bampton Village (impossible to visit without a car).

Highclere Castle, which is used for both the exterior and many of interior shots of “Downton Abbey,” is a properly proud edifice, with turreted towers, ornate ceilings and more than 1,000 acres of mostly manicured lawn. As we walk through the house we recognize several of the rooms—most notably the library, salon, dining room, grand hall, and, especially, one of the bedrooms that was the site of a pivotal plot turn.

But for me the real treat is visiting Bampton, a small town that has existed in relative obscurity since the Iron Age but that now is familiar to millions of people across the world. Robin Shuckburgh, chairman of the Bampton Community Archive and owner of the Coach House B&B, points out the buildings that were used to depict the fictional Downton Village.

Here, in one of the oldest and best-preserved villages in England, fact and fiction merge. It’s the perfect end to our countryside tour of, as the Brits would say, the land “across the pond.”

For more information:

The British Tourist Bureau

www.visitbritain.com

Insight Vacations

www.insightvacations.com

The Driver-Guides Association

www.dgatours.com

Robin Shuckburgh

http://shuckburgh.co.uk/thecoachhousebampton

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