We took a day trip out to the beautiful Basildon Park House and grounds. The house was initially built between 1776 and 1783, but struggled to maintain consistent owners– majority for financial reasons.
The house was considered never fully completed, and lay empty for many years (although was in use during both World Wars as a barracks, a training ground, and as a camp for prisoners of war.) Leading out of the Second World War, the building was in a severe state of decline. Its saviours came in the form of Lord and Lady Iliffe who, in the 1950s, restored and preserved the house and then donated it to the National Trust in 1978.
The full house is not always open, and on our visit we were unable to visit the bedrooms on the second floor, but there is plenty to see in the ground and first floors, as well as the stunning surrounding grounds. Below are some photos from our visit.
But the best bit of the house? It’s regularly used for the filming of period dramas. Previously the house played Netherfield Park in 2005’s adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and there is a lovely exhibition room that plays tribute to the house’s role as famous movie landmark. Recently, it’s made an impression on the media-viewing public as serving as the inside rooms for the Crawley’s London house. That’s right, b*tches, they filmed some Downton Abbey in this house. The interiors of the Christmas episode were largely filmed in some of the rooms of Basildon Park, and those running Basildon Park are very wise to the implications of that level of publicity. Each room you enter in the house has a document stating which scenes where shot there, and what major plot story lines occurred in each room. Beautiful A3 photos adorn each room show the characters acting, and some of Shirley MacLaine’s costumes are on display in the relevant rooms.
(If you need a little nudge to recognise the above picture, look no further than the Christmas episode DVD cover and promotional photo, below!)
They even, rather sweetly, have some of the stage boards from the Downton team, explaining how they got the rooms Downton-ready!
Below are some further photos taken by my partner in crime, Paul, because if you’re gonna go to a Downton Abbey filming location you better work it. You can see his work on his website– and you can follow him on twitter @EnjoyTheViewEU . I’m also on twitter @makingthemarrow. If you’d like to visit Basildon Park, check out this link.