Behind the scenes - Downton Abbey at Basildon Park

The east front of the house at Basildon Park, Berkshire
Basildon Park, Berkshire National Trust Images / John Millar

Amanda Beard, general manager at Basildon Park, Berkshire, tells us what it was like having one of the biggest period dramas on TV, Downton Abbey, filmed at the house she looks after.

What’s the experience been like?

It was fantastic, but hard work. The cast and crew arrived around 7am (some start arriving as early as 5.30am) and stayed until 8pm. It felt a bit like the circus had come to town.

They used three of the show rooms (in the London Season 2013) – the Octagon Room was used as a drawing room, the dining room as a ballroom and the library as a study/library.

It’s lovely to view the house in a different way. Take the dining room. Everything associated with dining has been removed, and this makes you notice all the tiny details and the beauty of the room. Now it looks like a room to dance in.

They've used so much of what’s ours – you can spot our curtains and mirrors on screen. The dining room was also used as a ballroom in films Dorian Gray, The Duchess and Joe Wright’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice.

What's your favourite memory from the shoot?

I’d been in a meeting for eight hours one day. When I got back, I popped into the house in the evening to check all was ok. Hugh Bonneville and Jim Carter (who star as the Earl of Grantham and Carson) both said hello – that was nice and not something that happens every day.

Lots of the cast have said how beautiful Basildon Park is. It’s lovely to see them taking photos of the view, or sitting under the shade of a tree between takes.


Preparing for Downton

Find out what our conservation assistants have to do when a film crew is in town.