Travel options for Downton tragics

Downton Abbey was filmed in dozens of film locations and castles in Britain, and Gilded Age mansions in the US. Photo / Supplied
Downton Abbey was filmed in dozens of film locations and castles in Britain, and Gilded Age mansions in the US. Photo / Supplied

What's a Downton Abbey fan to do now that the series is over?

Consider a trip to soothe your sorrows. There are castles and dozens of film locations in Britain, and Gilded Age mansions in the US. There are maps and apps, and even a costume exhibit touring museums around the US. Here are some details.

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle is located 72km from London. Photo / Supplied
Highclere Castle is located 72km from London. Photo / Supplied

Highclere Castle, where most of Downton was filmed, is about 72km from London and open to the public 60 to 70 days a year in spring and summer. Advance tickets to tour the mansion are nearly sold out for 2016, though some walk-up tickets are available.

A number of private tour operators offer trips that guarantee access to Highclere.

For a tour without going anywhere, try the Highclere app.

Elsewhere in the UK

A free online map detailing 71 Downton locations, nearly half in London, was put together by the United Kingdom branch of Wayfair, the home goods retailer.

Sites include West Wycombe Park, featured as Lady Rosamund's London home at 35 Belgrave Square; the London Charterhouse, used in three scenes; and the Great Conservatory at Syon Park in Brentford, where Lady Mary and Lord Gillingham had tea.

Fangirl Samantha Scott, who works at Stride Travel, a review site for tours and trips, put together a guide to 10 Downton locations, including Bampton church, featured in the wedding of Carson and Mrs Hughes, and Horsted Keynes Railway Station, where many scenes were shot, including Lady Mary's farewell to her husband as he went off to war.

Britmovietours.com offers a variety of Downton-themed tours, including one focusing on locations in London.

Inveraray Castle in Argyle, Scotland. Photo / iStock
Inveraray Castle in Argyle, Scotland. Photo / iStock

And let's not forget Inveraray Castle in Scotland, the setting for the fictional Duneagle Castle, home to the Grantham cousins and the lovely, headstrong Lady Rose. The castle is a bit more discreet than other sites in advertising its connection to the series, but its website offers some details.

Other destinations with no connection to the show are also offering themselves to Downton fans in mourning. In Scotland, Dundas Castle offers a "Downton Experience". Here's the pitch: "Whether you want to live like a lord, cook like Mrs Patmore or just learn how things were done in times gone by, the Downton Experience gives castle guests firsthand experience of life in a grand house."

The Gilded Age

Visitors walk past a lamppost sculpture near an entrance to The Breakers mansion in Newport, R.I. Photo / Supplied
Visitors walk past a lamppost sculpture near an entrance to The Breakers mansion in Newport, R.I. Photo / Supplied

In the US, consider a trip to Newport, Rhode Island, to see the Breakers, the Elms and other Gilded Age mansions. These massive, ornate homes, filled with art and antiques and set on lavishly landscaped grounds, were built and owned by nouveau riche Americans at the turn of the 20th century. Their new money was despised by British aristocracy, but the backstory of Lord Grantham showed how those US dollars were often used to prop up the crumbling world of England's landed gentry: He took his bride, Cora, from one of those rich American families because he needed her fortune to secure his estate. Cora's American mother, played by the inimitable Shirley MacLaine in a few early episodes, lived in Rhode Island.

Other famous Gilded Age mansions include the Biltmore in Asheville, North Carolina, and The Mount, in western Massachusetts.

Dressing Downton exhibition

Do you love drop-waist dresses, elbow-length gloves and festive hats? Get your costume fix at an exhibition called Dressing Downton, now at the Richard H Driehaus Museum in Chicago.

Dressing Downton features costumes from the series. Photo / Supplied
Dressing Downton features costumes from the series. Photo / Supplied

The exhibition, subtitled Changing Fashion for Changing Times, is billed as a "costume chronicle" with period clothing and jewellery worn by servants as well as lords and ladies.

Over the next two years, the exhibition will move to Cincinnati's Taft Museum of Art; The History Museum in South Bend, Indiana; Anaheim, California's Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center; Nashville, Tennessee's Cheekwood Botanical Gardens & Museum of Art; and finally St Augustine, Florida's Lightner Museum.

Drown your sorrows or head out to sea

You could drown your sorrows with a few stiff cocktails during a night on the town, as Lady Mary did with her beaus in London. If you prefer sipping Earl Grey or Darjeeling tea from a floral-patterned china teacup with a platter of scones and finger sandwiches, head to a hotel or tea shop.

Consider taking a cruise to France. Photo / Supplied
Consider taking a cruise to France. Photo / Supplied

If all else fails, take your cue from Violet, the Dowager Countess. After learning she'd been removed from the board of the local hospital, she escaped her troubles with a cruise to France.

"As the Dowager Countess has taught us, there is nothing like a quick European getaway to regain one's composure," said Julie McCool, promoting Viking Ocean Cruises.

"Cruisers live in comfortable luxury, are cheerfully waited on day and night by a staff who lives on the lower decks, of course, and encounter beautiful examples of the imperial past as they travel. Why, it's almost like being back at the Abbey!"

- AAP

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