Downton Abbey Season 4 Tour: 2014

A 7 day trip to England
46 reviews

Relish the glitz, the glamour, the dazzling drama, the fairy-tale castle and fabulous Jazz Age entertainment. To truly experience Downton Abbey is to be magically drawn into another world. This exclusive small-group tour for up to six travelers immerses you in the lavish setting and fascinating historical details of Season 4. Fantasy and reality converge during your visits to the filming locations in London, Highclere Castle and “Downton” village. Channel the spirit of Downton Abbey as you stroll around London, visit country manors, enjoy elegant meals, sip afternoon tea and luxuriate in refinement.

General Information

Photos
Highclere Castle: On this tour, enjoy an exclusive expert-guided tour inside the home of the Crawleys. Photo by JBUK_Planet on Flickr
Highclere Castle. Photo by Bas Sijpkes on Flickr
The Houses of Parliament, London.
The lobby at St. Ermin's Hotel, London.
Belgrave Square, London. Photo by Edwardx
Lincoln's Inn Fields, London. Photo by Loz Flowers on Flickr
Lincoln's Inn Fields in Holborn, London. Photo by David Iliff / License: CC-BY-SA 3.0
St. Pancras Railway Station, London. Photo credit: © User:Colin / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0
St Pancras railway station, London. Photo by Maria Giulia Tolotti
St Pancras railway station, London. Photo by The Wolf on Flickr
Buckingham Palace, London.
Beaulieu Palace House. Also location of National Motor Museum with collection of 250 vintage cars.
Greys Court, Oxfordshire - featured in Season 3 as Downton Place. Photo by John of Reading
Byfleet Manor House, Surrey aka “Dower House,” home of Dowager Violet. Photo by Mark Percy.
Village in The Cotswolds.
Cottage in The Cotswolds.
St. Mary's Church, Bampton Village - where Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley were married.
Fortnum & Mason, London. Photo by Gryffindor
View of the Great Conservatory at Syon House, Hounslow London. Photo by Penny Hamer
Inside Syon House Conservatory, London. Photo by Maxwell Hamilton on Flickr
Syon Park, London. Photo by Maxwell Hamilton on Flickr
Detailed Itinerary

Places Visited 

London: Highlights of the city plus Season 4 filming locations, including Notting Hill, Belgrade Square, Lincoln's Inn Fields, St. Pancras Station, and Criterion Restaurant. Ronnie Scott's Jazz Club.

Highclere Castle (the real Downton Abbey).

Byfleet Manor (Dowager Violet's house), Greys Court (Downton Place), Syon Park, Fortnum and Mason's, Bampton (Downton Village), Swinbrook, Beaulieu.

Departure Dates 

The tour begins on the following dates:

  • 20th July, 2014
  • 24th July, 2014
  • 3rd August, 2014
  • 7th August, 2014
  • 10th August, 2014
  • 14th August, 2014
  • 17th August, 2014
  • 21st August, 2014
  • 24th August, 2014

Detailed Itinerary 

Day 1 - Welcome to England - Arrival in London

Upon arrival at the airport, your driver will be waiting to assist you with your luggage and take you to your hotel. You’ll be staying at the elegant St. Ermin's Hotel in a wonderful location of central London. This historic building is walking distance from London’s most famous sites: Buckingham Palace, Saint James Park, Westminster Abbey and the Houses of Parliament. This elegant Victorian-era hotel exemplifies the grandeur of London architecture that would be familiar to the characters of the Downton Abbey drama series. Set back on a quiet tree-lined square away from the city’s hustle and bustle, this four-star hotel has luxurious rooms with all the amenities. Enjoy the sumptuous furnishings, inviting marble bathrooms, fluffy bathrobes, crisp bed linens, WiFi connection and TV entertainment center. 

What’s included: private transfer from the airport to your hotel; accommodations at the 4-star St. Ermin’s Hotel in central London

Day 2 - Visit Downton Abbey Filming Locations in London; Optional Jazz Club Evening

Enjoy a full-day of Downton Abbey sightseeing. Your guide will drive you around the city to see the wonderful filming locations featured in Season 4:

  • Visit Belgrave Square, one of the grandest 19th-century squares in London and a centerpiece of the fashionable Belgravia district. The Downton Abbey story has two connections with Belgrave Square. The Turkish Embassy is located at 43 Belgrave Square. In Season 1, Lady Edith sends a letter to this very address. Downton Abbey fans will immediately recognize the townhouse buildings of this square. The exterior of 35 Belgrave Square was used to depict Lady Rosamond’s London residence. Lady Rose, Lady Mary and Lady Edith stay at this address during their visits to London. The location provides a perfect base to enjoy the excitement and intrigue of London including jazz clubs and secret rendez-vous. 
  • You’ll then visit Lincoln Inn Fields, where you’ll see the exterior of homes used in the Downton Abbey filming. London’s largest public square, Lincoln Inn Fields dates back to the 1630s. This location was used as a setting for the evening strolls of Lady Rosamond, Lady Edith and Lady Rose. 
  • Next visit the charming tree-lined streets of Notting Hill. Here you’ll see the exterior of Chepstow Villas—pictured as Michael Gregson’s flat in Season 4. The eclectic neighborhood of Notting Hill is an interesting residential area with working-class roots and gentrified Victorian villas. You’ll have the chance to discover some of this trendy neighborhood’s antique shops, fashion boutiques, historic pubs, offbeat cocktail bars and avant-garde art galleries.
  • Saint Pancras Station is an important new filming location in Season 4. Lady Edith arrives at Saint Pancras Station when she visits London to meet her beau Michael Gregson. Your tour will take you to the Saint Pancras Renaissance Hotel, where you’ll recognize the splendid Victorian facade that was used in the train station scenes. This luxurious five-star hotel is also a wonderful place to stop for afternoon tea, snacks or cocktails. Overlooking the Eurostar train platform, the hotel’s elegant dining room (the Booking Office Bar) serves classic tea menus as well as punches and mixed drinks based on lost recipes from the Victorian era.

After the tour concludes, you’ll be dropped off at your hotel. You have the option to continue your Downton Abbey Season 4 experience by spending the night at London’s most well-known jazz club. If you prearrange for this option, you’ll enjoy dinner and a live musical performance at Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club. The prestigious club was opened in 1959 by Ronnie Scott, inspired by a visit to New York City, where he heard the performances of Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker Quintet. This world-famous club has served as a venue for jazz royalty including American jazz legends Ella Fitzgerald, Miles Davis and Wynton Marsalis. Today the club offers same level of musical talent. In this sophisticated venue, you’ll feel the upscale ambience depicted in Season 4 when Lady Rose organizes an outing to a jazz club in Mayfair. The performers will certainly be on par with Jack Ross. The jazz club option must be booked in advance, as the venue has limited capacity and almost all shows sell out. 

What’s included: full-day tour of Downton Abbey Season 4 filming locations; accommodations at the 4-star St. Ermin’s Hotel in central London

Day 3 - London Sightseeing & Lunch at Criterion Restaurant or Visit Beaulieu House

Today you’ll have leisure time to explore the famous sights of London. Be sure to visit Buckingham Palace, the official London residence of the British monarchy. While not an official filming location, this would have been the palace where Lady Rose was presented during the finale of Season 4.  Most tourists enjoy the “Changing he Guard” ceremony that takes place daily at 11:30am from May to July. The ceremony includes the marching of the Queen’s Guard in their full uniform of red tunics and bearskins, accompanied by traditional military music. During August and September, you may visit the State Rooms inside the Buckingham Palace to see the monarchy’s exceptional pieces of furniture, sparkling chandeliers and priceless works of art including paintings by Van Dyck and Canaletto. 

Another must-see site in London is Westminster Abbey, one of Christendom’s greatest churches and a designated World Heritage Site. Westminster Abbey has a fascinating 1,400-year history, yet is still a vital place of worship as part of the Church of England. You may attend one of the 28 Anglican services every week, and the Eucharist is celebrated at 8:00am daily. You may also visit simply to appreciate the Abbey’s gothic grandeur and view the crypt— one of the most interesting in the world. Many of England’s kings and queens, important statesmen, writers and politicians are buried here. The Poets’ Corner houses the tombs of Shakespeare, Chaucer, Tennyson and Dickens. 

After visiting Westminster Abbey, you can walk over to the Houses of Parliament. Take in the beauty of this exceptional Gothic Revival building. After a disastrous fire destroyed the original building in 1834, the Houses of Parliament were rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry—who also redesigned Highclere Castle (the real “Downton Abbey”) in the High Victorian Gothic style. You’ll notice similarities in the polished decorative spires that differ from the more intricate medieval buildings such as Westminster Abbey. Later in the afternoon, you may want to visit the Victoria & Albert Museum, which has a wonderful collection of period costumes. You’ll find many examples of Downton fashion that would suit the aristocracy, from the Dowager Countess to Lady Mary.

Your itinerary includes a lunch reservation at the elegant Criterion Restaurant. Located in central London’s bustling Piccadilly Circus, this legendary restaurant has catered to London’s high society since it opened in 1874. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote his story of “Sherlock Holmes” while seated at the bar and Sir Winston Churchill came here to negotiate with other politicians. In Downton Abbey Season 4, the Criterion Restaurant provides the perfect backdrop for Lady Edith’s risque meeting with Michael Gregson. Amidst the opulence of this breathtakingly beautiful neo-Byzantine dining room, Lady Edith and Michael Gregson kiss for the first time in public. Luxuriate in this lavish setting as you enjoy a gourmet lunch of the finest Modern European fare. The Criterion’s head chef Matthew Foxon creates delicious, elegant meals using the freshest ingredients from the British Isles. In the spirit of Lady Edith, make a Champagne toast to celebrate your immersion into British aristocratic culture. 

Optional Tour to the Palace House at Beaulieu:

For those who prefer an all-day excursion to the English countryside, you may visit the beautiful Palace House at Beaulieu. If you choose this option, then you’ll be picked up at your hotel after breakfast for an hour drive from London to The New Forest. The magnificent estate was formerly the 13th-century Beaulieu Abbey and is the current home of Lord Montagu whose family has lived here since 1538. It’s a wonderful place to escape for a day of relaxation. The Palace House is open to visitors and you may take a self-guided tour of the elaborately decorated interior. You’ll also have a chance to stroll through the glorious setting of expansive lawns and walkways overlooking the Beaulieu River. One of the highlights of this property is the National Motor Museum with its collection of 250 vintage cars. You’ll find many 1920s vehicles reminiscent of the car that Tom Branson drives in Season 4.

What’s included: Lunch at the Criterion Restaurant or excursion to the Palace House at Beaulieu; accommodations at the 4-star St. Ermin’s Hotel in central London

Day 4 - Visit "Downton Place" and the Dowager’s "Dower House"

Today your Downton Abbey tour takes you outside of London to two locations in Oxfordshire county depicted as Crawley family homes. First you’ll visit Greys Court in Henley-on-Thames. This beautiful country manor is immediately recognizable from Season 3. Luckily the Crawley family did not have to sell “Downton Abbey” and move to “Downton Place” (Greys Court) although this house and its grounds are just as sublime. A delightful place to visit, Greys Court is a historic aristocratic estate that takes you back to another era. The picturesque 16th-century mansion is surrounded by tranquil gardens, set in the beautiful rolling hills of the Chilterns. As you wander the gardens, you might find the spot where the Crawleys had their picnic on the estate. You may also tour house’s main rooms to appreciate the wonderful interior decorating. The variety of design styles reflects the five different families who have lived here from the Tudor era to the 20th century. 

Continue your tour by driving through the peaceful countryside of Oxfordshire until you reach the “Dower House,” fictitious home of the Dowager Violet. The actual house is Byfleet Manor, a private residence steeped in history dating back to the 14th century and once a royal hunting lodge. This lovely mansion is surrounded by flourishing gardens and a meandering river. Your specially arranged visit includes a special afternoon tea experience—complete with elegant setting, scones, tea sandwiches and sweet treats. The Dowager would approve! After your visit, your driver will take you to your lodging for the night. If rooms are available at the time of your booking, you may stay at the Swan Inn. Located in a quintessential Cotswold village, this boutique hotel is a typical country inn with plush rooms and plenty of charm. The hotel was mentioned in Alastair Sawday’s “Best Pubs with Rooms” list for 2013-2014. The Swan Inn was also featured in Downton Abbey Season 2 as the set for Lady Sybil’s elopement with Branson. From this location, you’ll have time to explore Swinbrook. This typical village of Oxfordshire’s Cotswold region is full of historic stone cottages, churches and cozy country pubs. For dinner you should try the pub at the Swan Inn, described as “everyone’s idea of the perfect country pub.” This historic country pub has lots of character and offers high-quality meals based on local, seasonal and organic ingredients.

What’s included: Tour of “Downton Place” and visit to “Dower House” including afternoon tea; lodging at the Swan Inn or similar country inn 

Day 5 - Tour of Highclere Castle and Downton Abbey filming locations in Bampton

The most important character of the Downton Abbey is a grand aristocratic estate known as Highclere Castle. Located 70 miles west of London in Berkshire County, this spectacular house has a rich and exotic past. Highclere Castle is the current home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. The family of the current Earl, George Herbert, has lived here since 1679 during the reign of King Charles the 2nd. Downton Abbey owes much of its success to the realistic portrayal of the British nobility, and Highclere Castle allows for the believability factor. This real-life castle takes you into another world. Just arriving at the house requires a one-mile drive on a country road lined with 56 cedar trees. The castle happens to be nestled in some of England’s most picturesque countryside. One of the last aristocratic-owned farming estates, Highclere Castle is surrounded by 5,000 acres of patchwork farms, pristine woodlands, green pastures and elegant gardens.

One of England’s grandest country homes, Highclere Castle is designed to impress. A stately home has stood at this location for 1,300 years and has undergone many renovations. The grand facade that you see today was built on top of the Georgian House that was built on the Elizabethan House. In 1842, Sir Charles Barry redesigned the castle in majestic Victorian Gothic Revival style similar to his other neo-Gothic masterpiece, the Houses of Parliament. The castle has over 120,000 square feet of living area, 300 rooms, 80 bedrooms, 300 windows, 19 fireplaces and 4 main stairwells.  As the home of an Earl, Highclere Castle has received visits from the Queen of England. Other royalty and celebrities have also been frequent guests. Today the castle attracts thousands of Downton Abbey fans during the visiting season and has a 20-person full-time staff including a butler.

Your special tour of Highclere Castle (limited to the 6 people on this group tour) will take you inside the gorgeous home. The tour guide was selected for his expertise on the history of the British aristocracy and the castle itself, which he’ll discuss during your tour. When you first walk through the doors of Highclere Castle, you’ll feel as if you’ve walked onto the television set. As you enter, you’ll be awed by the impressive Great Hall. With its exquisite vaulted ceiling and expansive floor plan, this grand reception room is designed for entertaining. This space is used for social gatherings in Downton Abbey Season 4, including afternoon tea and the jazz performance to celebrate Lord Grantham’s birthday. Next you’ll see the room that plays an important role in the show as Lord Grantham’s study. The library is the heart of the house and the largest sitting room. This room is virtual museum of antique books, with over 6,000 beautiful leather-bound editions—many dating back to the 15th century! You’ll also visit the more feminine Drawing Room, where Lady Grantham receives guests for afternoon tea. This glorious room provides the ideal backdrop for a Downton Abbey tete-a-tete. It’s also the favorite sitting room of Lady Carnarvon, who often hosts pre-dinner cocktail receptions here. The tour includes a visit to the castle’s Egyptian Exhibit. This amazing exhibit displays precious Egyptian artifacts from the collection the 5th Earl Carnarvon, who discovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1923.

Next you’ll drive through the scenic landscape of Oxfordshire on your way to Bampton. Located at the edge of the Cotswolds, Bampton is one of southern England’s prettiest villages as well as the fictitious “Downton.” You’ll have a chance to see filming locations of the show’s village scenes. Delight in the charm of the winding streets, ancient stone edifices and the uplifting church bells rung on the hour. Wander down the village’s main street, Church Street and visit the 12th-century parish church where Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley were married. You’ll also see Churchgate House, the exterior of Crawley House (the interior of Lady Isobel’s house is filmed at another location). An escape to another era, Bampton allows you to experience the wonderful charm and idyllic setting of the English countryside.

What’s included: Day tour of Highclere Castle and Bampton Village filming locations; lodging at the Swan Inn or similar country inn

Day 6 - Visit Syon Park and Afternoon Tea at Fortnum & Mason's

Today you’ll leave the English countryside heading back to London. On your way, you’ll stop in West London to visit Syon House and its exceptional 200-acre parkland. This magnificent aristocratic property is the home of the Duke of Northumberland and the last surviving ducal country estate in Greater London. Famous landscape architect Lancelot 'Capability' Brown designed the 40-acre gardens, renowned for their beauty and collection of rare plants. You’ll have a chance to visit the Great Conservatory, the crowning glory of the gardens. Crafted from Bath stone and glass, the elegant dome captures sunlight to nurture exotic plants. You’ll recognize this elegant setting from episode 7 in Season 4 of Downton Abbey when Lady Mary meets Lord Gillingham for lunch. 

After your tour of Syon Park, you’ll return to London and will check back into St. Ermin’s Hotel. This afternoon, you’ll be treated to the time-honored tradition of afternoon tea at the Fortnum & Mason’s elegant tea salon, which was beautifully refurbished and opened by Her Majesty the Queen in 2012, accompanied by Their Royal Highnesses the Duchess of Cornwall and the Duchess of Cambridge. The menu includes a selection of the finest teas, fancy finger sandwiches, scones with clotted cream and homemade cakes—all perfectly in line with Downton Abbey standards. Fortnum and Mason's royal connections and history will also fascinate you, with its founding in 1707 by an enterprising royal footman.

What’s included: transfer from Oxfordshire to London, tour of Syon Park, afternoon tea at Fortnum & Mason’s, accommodations at St. Ermin’s Hotel in central London

Day 7 - Departure from London

It’s time to leave the fantasy of Downton Abbey and return to home. Inspired by this week-long immersion, you’ll surely return with a deeper appreciation and love of this period drama! After breakfast, you’ll enjoy a private transfer to the airport for your return flight.

Photo credit: Highclere Castle by Zen Whisk on Flickr.

Price

What's Included 

  • 4 nights at the St. Ermin’s Hotel, London
  • 2 nights at the Swan Inn, Swinbrook or equivalent country inn, Oxfordshire
  • Breakfast at all hotels
  • Full day tour of London with expert historian guide
  • Full day tour of Downton Place and Dower House, including afternoon tea
  • Full day tour of Highclere Castle (including entrance fee) and Bampton (Downton Village) filming locations
  • Syon Park tour including entrance fee
  • Lunch at Criterion Restaurant, London
  • Afternoon tea @ Fortnum and Mason’s, London
  • Airport transfers

All tours are semi-private, just for the group of four to six travelers.
Accommodations are subject to availability.

Price 

$3230 per person based on 2 people sharing a double/twin room.

For each scheduled departure date listed, there's a minimum of 4, maximum of 6 guests.  Travelers can join others as part of a small group of 4 - 6.  The trip can also be customized for 2 travelers on a private tour, at an additional price.