Tourism in the United Kingdom: how Downton Abbey offers a great opportunity for VisitBritain
Movies or TV series sometimes highlight places and destinations that fans will want to discover later. Our friend Julie had written about Game of Thrown and Dubrovnik a few months ago :
VisitBritain, the British tourist office, takes advantage of a film to communicate
VisitBritain is launching a new film tourism campaign that invites French people to discover the charm of the English countryside and its historic homes through the launch of a film inspired by the TV series, Downton Abbey.
Most of the filming took place in real settings in England. The production has set up its cameras in iconic locations including Highclere Castle, Harewood House, Alnwick Castle.
The French market is important for British tourism
In 2018, 3.7 million French visitors visited Great Britain. They reportedly spent £1.4 billion there, making France the second largest emitting market in terms of volume and the third largest in terms of tourism revenues.
Brexit should not change anything
Tour operators and agencies do not seem to be concerned about the effects of the possible Brexit. If the images broadcast in recent weeks on the British Parliament present an inglorious image, Brexit would represent a good deal for French and European travellers thanks to the fall in the price of the pound sterling.
The British currency has lost 15% of its value since June 2016. In the event of a hard Brexit, the currency is expected to continue to fall, making the United Kingdom even more financially advantageous. A great opportunity for tour operators offering offers on this
The TV series was a huge success
Downton Abbey has received rave reviews from television and has received many awards, including a Golden Globe Award
for the best television series. According to experts, it was the most watched television series in the world. For those who have not yet watched this series, the story takes place between 1912 and 1926 in the fictional Yorkshire estate located at Downton Abbey.
One can discover the life of the aristocratic family and its servants in the post-edouardian period. Throughout the series, the sinking of the Titanic, the outbreak of the First World War, the Spanish flu pandemic and the Irish War of Independence are mentioned.
In short, the major events in history during this period that will have had an impact on the British social hierarchy.
Shooting in real ancestral homes
The story of the rich English Crawley family takes place in beautiful settings. The locations are breathtaking. Stage manager Mark Ellis, and his team who worked on both the series and the upcoming film, spent 10 weeks travelling around England looking for castles and estates for this great production. He adds: « I think British tourism will be very grateful to us for this« .
Highclere Castle now attracts many visitors
No location is more closely associated with the series than the domain that became Downton itself: Highclere Castle.
The work, which is located in Hampshire, was in fact almost completely in ruins before the series began. However, after the estate had grown in the series, tourism brought enough money to allow the owners (Lord and Lady Carnarvon) to embark on serious renovations.
And as this is the central film location, thematic visits to this location abound. The luxury Belmond British Pullman train makes special themed trips from London, while Viking Cruises offers a visit to the residence with its river cruises.
Alnwick Castle, the second largest castle in the Kingdom
The origins of this castle in Northumberland (North East England) date back to the Norman period. It is also the second largest inhabited castle in the United Kingdom. The Percy family has lived here for over 700 years.
For the Downton Abbey series, Alnwick was renamed Brancaster Castle and was originally the home of Lord Sinderby, the stepfather’s house. Later in the season, Lady Edith’s fiancée, Bertie Pelham, took possession of it and the castle serves as a meeting point for the two families.
La Ferme du manoir des Cogges, to be seen at the exit of Oxford
This historic farmhouse includes a 13th century manor house, 17th century farm buildings and an elegant garden. This active family farm certainly has a lot of pastoral charm.
Known as the Yew Tree Farm for the series, it represents the home of Mr. Drewe and his family, who adopted Lady Edith’s daughter, Marigold, in the 5th season. Mark Ellis says: » When we discovered it, no one was going there. It was really a quiet attraction just outside Oxford, but it is now a well-established tourist attraction« . A website has been created for the occasion: www.cogges.org.uk/groups-and-tours
Wentworth Woodhouse, a superb ballroom
With the longest facade of any country house in England, Wentworth Woodhouse is one of the most impressive estates in Britain. Built for the first Marquis of Rockingham around 1735, it has a rich history. This house was also a military intelligence camp during the Second World War and even as a polytechnic college. And if its exterior is breathtaking, it is actually its massive ballroom that attracted the series’ director.
VisitBritain’s website for Downton Abbey: www.visitbritain.com/fr/fr/ou-fut-tourne-downton-abbey