A glimpse of the Downton Abbey grandeur at our National Trust for Scotland properties
From the television series to the big screen blockbuster, the Crawley family and their servants at Downton Abbey have caught the public’s imagination. But coach groups can also get a feel for Downton life at some of the grand houses the National Trust for Scotland looks after across Scotland.
Here are a handful of properties that take visitors into a real-life period drama, with their grand interiors and hidden passageways, all packed full of compelling stories from above and below stairs.
Pollok House is known as ‘Scotland’s answer to Downton Abbey’. The grand country home was built in 1752 and showcases life during the Edwardian era. Home to the Maxwell family, the upstairs is lavishly designed with luxurious furnishings and a world-famous art collection. Downstairs, the vast servant’s quarters and extensive tiled passageways show just how much work went in to maintaining this impressive home and the wealthy family.
The history of Castle Fraser, Aberdeenshire dates back to the 1600s and was the residence of the Fraser family for more than 400 years. Visitors can soak up the atmosphere of old Scotland and imagine life for the Fraser’s with original family portraits, ornaments and mementos while hidden trapdoors, narrow staircases and spy holes also hint at the secretive life below-stairs.
The Aberdeenshire castle offers a glimpse into how grand properties were maintained from generation to generation with the evocative interiors representing all periods of the castle’s history. While Downton viewers watched Lady Mary take the reins, leading the estate into a new era, similar renovations were made at Castle Fraser by Elyza Fraser who modernised the castle in the late 18th century and landscaped the grounds.
An imposing stately home located north of Aberdeen, Haddo House belonged to the Gordon family for over 500 years. Designed in 1732 by William Adam, the house underwent an opulent remodelling in the 1880s. As a result, it has the clean elegance and swooping lines of the Georgian style with a luxurious Victorian interior. The impressive property also served as a maternity hospital during World War II and more than 1,200 babies were born here. This is another parallel with Downton Abbey which also had a spell as a hospital (although during World War I).
Downton Abbey fans need also look no further than Fife to find a wonderful example of elegant Edwardian living. At Hill of Tarvit Mansion house, visitors can discover a fascinating record of life above and below stairs at this impressive mansion. Valuable fine art and porcelain pieces reveal the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by the Sharps, while the service wings give insight into the lives of the people that worked at the home.
The landscaped gardens of Hill of Tarvit are also home to a nine-hole golf course, designed for the Sharp family. As witnessed in Downtown Abbey, taking part in sports and competitive games broke down the class barriers and brought upstairs and downstairs together.
And in Edinburgh city centre, the Georgian House is a vivid re-creation of life in late 18th century with a real taste of “high society” upstairs and a fascinating life of the servants below stairs.
For private tours, costumed welcomes, behind-the-scenes and trade rates, chat to Liz Young about your requirements:
0131 458 0204