How our region’s stately homes have felt the ‘Downton Abbey effect’

Blickling Hall. Picture: Ian Ward.

Blickling Hall. Picture: Ian Ward. - Credit: Archant

The most successful ITV drama of all time will bow out after five years and six series on Christmas Day.

Undated National Trust handout photo of the West Garden at Blickling Estate, Norfolk as the National

Undated National Trust handout photo of the West Garden at Blickling Estate, Norfolk as the National Trust is to invest £30 million in renewable energy schemes at dozens of its properties as part of efforts to cut carbon and fuel bills. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday July 6, 2015. More than 40 projects will be rolled out at some of the hundreds of castles, stately homes and countryside properties the Trust looks after, including a heating project using a lake, a hydro power scheme with historic links and biomass boilers to cut oil use. The move comes after a £3.5 million pilot, launched with renewable energy company Good Energy in 2013, which saw five schemes installed, including a biomass boiler at the Italianate Ickworth estate in Suffolk. Ickworth's biomass boiler has replaced a 5,000 litre oil tank, removing the risk of oil leaks, and the use of wood fuel from the estate itself has led to new woodland being planted which reinstates lost design features from the Grade II listed park and garden - Credit: PA

For fans, autumnal Sunday nights may never be the same after the Crawleys perform their swansong.

Will the family's ancestral home be taken over by the National Trust, like so many other estates today?

Could the Crawleys leave, without a shilling to their name? Or will there be a twist no one is expecting?

In our region, the impact of the series has been all too clear in recent years. Our fine stately homes today report on what has been called the 'Downton Effect' – a rise in visitor numbers and a growing fascination among the public since the series began.

ITV undated handout photo of Hugh Bonneville playing the Earl of Grantham as ITV has released the fi

ITV undated handout photo of Hugh Bonneville playing the Earl of Grantham as ITV has released the first festive season-themed trailer for Downton Abbey's last ever episode. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Thursday December 3, 2015. The feature-length special, which will be broadcast on Christmas Day, hints at changes for the Crawley family and their loyal servants. See PA story SHOWBIZ Downton. Photo credit should read: ITV/PA WireNOTE TO EDITORS: This handout photo may only be used in for editorial reporting purposes for the contemporaneous illustration of events, things or the people in the image or facts mentioned in the caption. Reuse of the picture may require further permission from the copyright holder. - Credit: PA


You may also want to watch:


Jo Bosch, marketing and visitor manager at the Blickling Estate, said characters like Mrs Patmore, Downton Abbey's cook, and Carson, the butler, have inspired an interest in the servants as well as their masters.

'Our visitors have talked about Downton since the series first started,' Mrs Bosch said.

Most Read

'What it inspired was a shift in visitors' interest from the 'upstairs' and the grand state rooms, that the owners would have used, to the 'downstairs' and the social history and lives of the domestic staff.'

The estate has launched new experiences as a result, such as a butler's recruitment tour, which takes visitors up to the servants quarters in the attics to show how they would have lived and worked.

Holkham Hall. Pictured: The North Dining Room. Picture: Holkham Estate

Holkham Hall. Pictured: The North Dining Room. Picture: Holkham Estate - Credit: Holkham Estate

At the 191-room Holkham Hall, estate director David Horton Fawkes said visitor numbers have been growing since the series began.

'Undoubtedly people mention Downton Abbey,' he added. 'People are always fascinated by what goes on in these houses, and now they feel they have an even greater interest.'

Lord and Lady Leicester live in Holkham Hall with their four children, with the estate covering Holkham and Wells beach, Pinewoods Holiday Park, The Victoria Hotel and Restaurant and more. They have around 205 staff covering the house and estate.

'Having a family living in the house is of great interest to visitors,' he added. 'People are intrigued in the people who live here and the lives they lead.'

Holkham Hall. Pictured: The Landscape Room. Picture: Holkham Estate

Holkham Hall. Pictured: The Landscape Room. Picture: Holkham Estate - Credit: Holkham Estate

The Houghton Estate, in north west Norfolk, is also lived in by a family and chooses to open the house up throughout the year as a way to generate income.

Robert Miller, agent and director of the estate, said: 'People are fascinated with the past. This house was built by Sir Robert Walpole, Britain's first prime minister, and people are really intrigued by that. The house has been open to the public since 1976 and it's very much part of what Houghton is about. The family, who live here, want to share it with visitors.'

Do you have a story about our region's stately homes? Email newsdesk@archant.co.uk

Holkham Hall. Pictured: The Long Library. Picture: Holkham Estate

Holkham Hall. Pictured: The Long Library. Picture: Holkham Estate - Credit: Holkham Estate

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter
Comments powered by Disqus