We were so excited to actually be in England. England, to me, had always been a place that existed only between the pages of a book as in the wonderfully written historic novels, or in the romantic mystery novel Jane Eyre, or Shakespeare or Wuthering Heights. Or, even recently, as seen in the blockerbuster Downton Abbey series seen on the Masterpiece PBS television station.
But, here we were traveling down the back country roads in England, and, of all things, yes, we had just visited Highclere Castle, which is the setting for the Downton Abbey series ... What an exciting treat that had been! Our next stop would be the setting where the Downton Abbey Village scenes are filmed in an authentically old-looking village by the name of Bampton, England.
London to Highclere Castle is about a 70 mile drive west. Then to reach Bampton from Highclere Castle is about another 40 mile drive north. In the series the village looks like it is right down the way from the Castle, but it is actually about 40 miles away.
Fortunately, we had a good tour-guide/driver who knew the backroads really well and zipped along knowing just exactly where he was going and being totally comfortable with driving on what we would call "the wrong side of the road."
Bampton is a village in Oxfordshire, England where many of the outdoor scenes
of the fictional village of Downton Abbey were filmed.
Our tour-guide told us most of the scenes in Downton Abbey Village took place at the church, and in the old Library, and at "Churchgate House."
Saint Mary of the Virgin Catholic Church is the location for the church scenes seen in Downton Abbey. The church has a stone-date indicating that it was built in 1546.
This church in the Downton Abbey series is known as, "Church of St. Michael of All Angels."
In the below photo is the entrance gate to the church where Lady Mary entered for her wedding.
I saw a photo somewhere of the cast members for the series setting on the stones in the below photo waiting during the filming of a church scene. I wish I had taken a picture of that picture.
A sign inside the church.
In the below photo is the alter where several of the church scenes in the series were filmed.
Photo from the Internet.
As you can see, this is a photo of Lady Mary and Matthew's wedding
which was filmed in this church.
A closer photo of the alter where the wedding took place.
The church was so very beautiful inside.
An alter on the side of the main alter.
Just outside the church, across from the cemetery, is what is called the "Churchgate House." This is the house used for the outside scenes for Isobel Crawley and her son Matthew's home.
I loved this beautiful tree with all the red berries inside the church cemetery.
The tour-guide called this a Rowan Tree. When I asked Mr. Google about a Rowan Tree he told me they can grow 30 feet in height. The tree survives nicely in zones 3 through 6.
The Rowan Tree grows well in slightly moist acidic soil, prefers full sunlight, but will tolerate partial shade. The tree is native throughout Britain, North Africa, Europe and Ireland. And, it will grow in the United States, again in zones 3 - 6. The birds love this tree because of all the berries.
The below photo shows the entrance to the village Library, but, actually in the filming of Downton Abbey, it was the entrance to the Downton Hospital. There is a sign to the right, showing the door entrance in the actual series.
We went into the Library and the local ladies from Bampton Village were so welcoming and gracious. In the below photo is an arrangement one of the ladies had made from her local garden. How beautiful!
The below photo was on display in the Library. There were also souvenir gift items available
Outside of the Library.
Between the Library and the church is this big beautiful tree and bench. We were told this tree and bench have been seen in several of the Downton Abbey episodes. This location also was the setting for the fair which was featured in the first episode of the series.
This stone wall looked like it had been in the town for many years.
As we drove through the Village of Bampton we were impressed with how charming and truly old the village looked. The origins of Bampton go back to the Iron Age and Roman times from what I can find out. Some of the buildings in this well-preserved village date back to the 12th century.
This is a thatched-roof building not too far from the Library entrance.
The Morris Clown is an Inn and Pub in the Village of Bampton.
Our tour-guide stopped in at the Bampton Coffee House so we could have a coffee break.
A pretty house in the Village of Bampton.
I loved this beautiful home with the wonderful English garden. I asked the sweet gentleman sitting outside if I could take a photo of his charming home and garden. He was so nice to allow a stranger to get a picture of his lovely home.
Do you see his adorable little dog sitting in front of the gate.
What a completely charming "English" setting.
In the below photo is Rose Revived, a charming Old English Hotel, Restaurant and Pub close to Bampton, England.
Our tour-guide suggested the below restaurant as a good place for a nice late lunch after our tours of Highclere Castle and the village of Bampton.
Carnarvon Arms Wheeler's of St. James
A modern day Country Inn and Restaurant offering outstanding food and accommodations.
The restaurant looked very nice, inviting and restful after sightseeing around all morning and some of the afternoon. The building where this restaurant is now located was the former coach-house for Highclere Castle.
We were told that members of the cast for Downton Abbey stay here at this Inn during the filming of the series. They said it is not uncommon to see one of the cast members. However, no such luck on the day of our lunch.
My husband ordered "Fish and Chips," which as you can see is battered fried fish, and the chips are actually what we would call large-cut french fries. He gave me a bite ... they were so good!
I ordered "Shepherd's Pie," another "English" dish, and it too was so delicious.
It was thrilling to be in England and then to be able to visit Highclere Castle and also the town of Bampton. The visits were just so much fun and so completely "English."
Our tour-guide returned us safely back to our hotel in London after an amazing day of sight-seeing. We stay on in London for a couple of more days before heading back home to the good ole USA.
I will share, in future posts, some of the sights we saw during our stay in London ... Would love to have you come along on the rest of our journey.
As these last days of Summer wind down, I hope you are doing well wherever you may be.