Wentworth Woodhouse provides setting and storyline for new Downton film

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Anyone familiar with some of the stories in Catherine Bailey’s Black Diamonds will know that Wentworth Woodhouse rivals the fictional Downton Abbey for intrigue and drama, and now the two houses have been brought together on the silver screen.

Having secured the Grade 1 listed property in Rotherham, the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust (WWPT) has developed a masterplan to secure the future of the mansion which has already featured in numerous big screen and small screen productions. Handing over state rooms and gardens to filmmakers is an important means to raise the profile (and much needed revenue) of the property which for many years has been in relative obscurity.

And the latest big name film to make use of the grand surroundings at Wentworth is the much-anticipated feature film, Downton Abbey, due for release this month.

Focus Features and Carnival Films started principle photography last year, bringing back the original cast from the acclaimed television series to star alongside the likes of Imelda Staunton and Geraldine James.

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The television series followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country home.

As if mirroring the Fitzwilliam’s at Wentworth, the new film sees the Crawley family hosting a royal visit. King George V and Queen Mary visited South Yorkshire in 1912 and stayed at Wentworth Woodhouse for four days.

The Downton Abbey trailer features preparations for the visit and a royal ball can be seen being hosted in the unmistakable Marble Saloon at Wentworth Woodhouse.

The latest “Sneak Peek” featurette shows filming taking place and also another scene using the long gallery at Wentworth Woodhouse.

Described as a “a 60ft square work of art” and once dubbed the finest Georgian room in England, the Marble Saloon was the entrance for royalty and has hosted some of the house’s most extravagant balls.

The room, which saw ballerina, Anna Pavlova, dance for for King George V, has a 40ft high unbroken pillared gallery surround and the ceiling plasterwork is by Jonathan and Joseph Rose which is further reflected in the design of the marble floor – clearly visible in the Downton Abbey trailer.

On the film, Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary Crawley, said: “Everything, it’s all on a grander note. It’s incredible.”

Mark Ellis, Supervising Location Manager on Downton Abbey, said: “It was an absolute privilege to come back to film in Yorkshire and it looks remarkable on the big screen; from the stunning North Yorkshire Moors Railway in the opening scenes, to the lavish Ballroom sequence, which we filmed at Wentworth Woodhouse.”

In cinema, Wentworth Woodhouse’s Marble Saloon stood in for London’s Royal Academy of Arts in Mike Leigh’s biopic of JMW Turner. Other rooms were used for scenes at Buckingham Palace in Darkest Hour, in which Gary Oldman won an Oscar playing Winston Churchill.

The Marble Saloon was recently transformed into opulent offices in the BBC’s Gentleman Jack and Wentworth Woodhouse was used for previous productions including King Charles III, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell and Billionaire Boy. It is also used for ITV’s prime-time drama, Victoria.

Downton Abbey is in cinemas in the UK from September 13.

Images: Focus Features

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