Downton Abbey’s Highclere Castle and More Famous Mansions

‘Downton Abbey’s Highclere estate and more unforgettable real estate, in time for the show’s finale.

Masterpiece / CBS

 Highclere, the 1,000-acre estate in Hampshire that provides the setting for the fictional Downton Abbey, is practically a character in the drama. If that seems too fanciful, there is certainly no denying that the house and grounds give the series a legitimacy that no movie set or CGI wizardry could possibly fake. It’s believable for the bone-headedly simple reason that it’s real.

Movie makers have been trading on this fact for decades. Mansions, castles, and grand houses have been used as the backdrop locations for everything from Brideshead Revisited (one location was so apt that it serves as the house in both the television mini-series and the more recent feature film) to Harry Potter (a film series that has adopted a more cut-and-paste approach, with a turret from this castle and a chapel from that school and other bits and pieces from all over).

The result for viewers is a sort of cloudy déjà vu. You’re watching one film and five others float through your head (“I know I’ve seen this place before”). These magisterial backdrops are like character actors whose faces are instantly familiar but whose names invariably escape you. To sort out the confusion, The Daily Beast has assembled a gallery of venerable upper-class real estate, together with lists of the crucial parts each has played in this film or that.

Everett Collection

Castle Howard, York

Both Bridesheads—mini-series and film

Jason Hawkes / Corbis

Floors Castle, Kelso, Scotland


Courtesy of Wrotham Park

Wrotham Park

Gosford Park (ext , some int)

Syon House, Isleworth, Greater London (upstairs bedrooms)

Peter’s Friends
Jeeves & Wooster
The Line of Beauty
Sense & Sensibility

Ben Stansall / Getty Images

Burleigh House

Pride and Prejudice (2005, Keira Knightley)
The Da Vinci Code
The Golden Bowl

Creative Commons

Harlaxton Manor, Grantham, Lincolnshire

The Ruling Class
The Haunting (remake)

Creative Commons

Hatfield House, Hatfield, Hertfordshire

Greystoke (interiors)
(Wayne manor in Tim Burton version)
Shakespeare in Love
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
Sherlock Holmes
(Guy Ritchie version)

Creative Commons

Mentmore Towers, Mentmore, Buckinghamshire

Eyes Wide Shut (as Long Island mansion)
Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan version, as Wayne Manor)
Ali G in Da House
The Mummy

Everett Collection

Belvoir Castle (pronounced Beaver), Grantham, Leicestershire

Young Sherlock Holmes
The Da Vinci Code
The Golden Bowl
King Ralph
The Haunting (1995)

Britain on View / Getty Images

Wilton House, Wilton, Wiltshire

Barry Lyndon
The Madness of King George
Mrs. Brown
The Music Lovers
The Bounty
The Young Victoria

Christopher Furlong / Getty Images

Eton College [college chapel steps, school yard]

The Madness of King George
Shakespeare in Love
Chariots of Fire
Young Sherlock Holmes
The Fourth Protocol
Henry VIII and His Six Wives (BBC TV series)

Greg Biss / Getty Images

Broughton Castle, Banbury, Oxfordshire

The Madness of King George
Shakespeare in Love
Three Men and a Little Lady

Courtesy of Stokesay Court

Stokesay Court, Ludlow, Shropshire


Britain on View / Getty Images

Syon House, Greater London

Gosford Park
The Golden Bowl
The Avengers
The Wings of the Dove

Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images

<a href="" target="_blank">Knebworth House</a>, Stevenage, Hertfordshire

Batman (1989)
Eyes Wide Shut
The Meaning of Life
The Shooting Party
Batman Begins

For more famous real estate, visit Movie Locations, The Movie Map, and Seeing Stars.