The Marble Salon at Wentworth Woodhouse – a Downton Abbey – The Movie location
Updated: Dec 2, 2020
Downton Abbey, the British historical drama created by Julian Fellows has captivated audiences across the world since it first aired in 2010. Not only is it the most watched TV show on ITV, but also holds the record viewing figures for PBS in America.
The TV series is set in a fictional North Yorkshire country estate and follows the aristocratic Crawley Family and their domestic servants in the Post – Edwardian era. Downton Abbey aired for 6 series and 52 episodes, but in 2019 a one off film Downton Abbey – The Movie came out to rave reviews.
The film is set in 1927 and depicts a visit by the King and Queen to the Yorkshire estate of Downton Abbey (actually filmed at Highclere Castle in Berkshire – down South). But part of the plot also includes the real life visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Harewood House as part of their Yorkshire Tour to visit their daughter Princess Mary, who had married Henry Lascelles – the 6th Earl of Harewood.
Downton Abbey – The Movie features lots of Yorkshire locations such as Pickering Railway station which doubles for Kings Cross, Little Germany in Bradford as well as Harewood House itself.
in the movie, after the Downton Abbey visit, the King and Queen travel to Harewood House and a Ball is laid on with dancing in their honour. Whilst The Terrace at Harewood House is used within this scene, the actual ball was filmed at Wentworth Woodhouse near Rotherham in South Yorkshire.
In one of the key scenes from the movie, over 150 extras danced alongside the cast in the 1920’s Ball sequence filmed in Wentworth Woodhouse’s Marble Salon, an opulent ballroom at the Grade 1 Listed Mansion.
The Marble Saloon was the grandest of Wentworth's staterooms, and in 1912 guests actually witnessed one of the most significant moments in the house's history when ballerina Anna Pavlova danced for King George V and Queen Mary during their royal tour of Yorkshire. Their visit was the inspiration for the plot of the new Downton Abbey movie.
When I last visited Wentworth Woodhouse, the Marble Salon was being refurbished as it has suffered from dry rot and water damage during the years since the Fitzwilliams sold their ancestral seat. But even with scaffold up it still was a stunning site.
This was patched up for the filming to enable the room to retain much of its magnificent grandeur. The 60ft square room is said to be one of the finest Georgian Rooms in the whole of England and is also regarded as the most perfectly proportioned Palladian style rooms at any stately home.
Wentworth Woodhouse – we will cover the history of the house in a future blog, but as it is not as well known or visited by the numbers that Castle Howard and Harewood House see, here is a bit of background:
Wentworth Woodhouse, was the historic home of the Fitzwilliam family, and is the biggest private residence in the UK, sitting within 87 acres of gardens & grounds and boasting the longest facade of any house in Europe – at 185 metres, twice the length of Buckingham Palace.
The main part of the house dates back to the mid-18th century and it once employed up to 1,000 staff, requiring an infirmary and a dentist on site. After years of neglect, the giant South Yorkshire stately home was bought by the Wentworth Woodhouse Preservation Trust and is still undergoing a £130m restoration.
If you are in Yorkshire I would highly recommend a visit.
Yorkshire Downton Abbey Tours – at Real Yorkshire Tours, I offer a 2 or 3 Day Downton Abbey Tour which takes in Wentworth Woodhouse and Harewood House on the 2 day tour and for the 3 day tour visits Castle Howard and Pickering.