The Downton Abbey movie has arrived on our big screens this week, but did you know that you can get a feel for Downton life at dozens of country piles across Scotland?
The period drama charts the life of an aristocratic family in the post-Edwardian era, transporting fans back in time as drama unfolds in every corner of a stately home.
From Pollok House in Glasgow to Castle Fraser in Aberdeen and Hill of Tarvit in Fife, there are homes across the country that are the Scottish equivalent of the Abbey.
Protected by the National Trust for Scotland, these grand homes and castles offer all the drama and luxury of Downton Abbey as well as a glimpse into life above and below stairs during the 20th century.
We’ve rounded up four properties, owned by the conservation charity, that will take visitors into the heart of the period drama with their grand interiors and hidden passageways.
Pollok House, Glasgow
Pollok House is known as ‘Scotland’s answer to Downton Abbey’. The grand country home is surrounded by the extensive woodland and gardens of Pollok Country Park and offers a quiet sanctuary on the outskirts of Glasgow.
This elegant house 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.
Stories of life at Pollok House are not dissimilar to the depiction in Downton Abbey, with 48 household members of staff running the home for just three members of the Maxwell family.
After delving into the past and exploring the home you can end your trip with a visit to the Edwardian Kitchen Café, with cakes that would even impress Downton’s cook Mrs Patmore.
For more information on Pollok House visit: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/pollok-house
Castle Fraser, Aberdeen
The history of Castle Fraser 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. Whilst Downton viewers watched Lady Mary take the reins on 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.
For more information on Castle Fraser visit: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/castle-fraser/
Haddo House, Ellon
An elegant stately home located north of Aberdeen, Haddo House is a magnificent example of a home in the Palladian Style (influenced by 16th century architect, Andrea Palladio).
The striking property has 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.
Haddo House has been home to prolific figures in Scotland’s history. George Gordon, the 1st Earl of Aberdeen and Lord Chancellor of Scotland as well as the 4th Earl who served as Prime Minister called the estate their residence.
The impressive property also served as a maternity hospital during World War II helping birth over 1,200 babies. Not too dissimilar from Downton Abbey acting as a military hospital during World War I.
For more information on Haddo House visit: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/haddo-house
Hill of Tarvit, Fife
Downton Abbey fans need look no further than Fife to find a wonderful example of Edwardian stately living. Hill of Tarvit in Cupar was transformed into a 20th-century mansion for the boundary-pushing Sharp family.
Today, 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.
For more information on Hill of Tarvit Mansion visit: https://www.nts.org.uk/visit/places/hill-of-tarvit-mansion
The National Trust for Scotland is the charity that celebrates and protects Scotland’s heritage. It relies on the support of its members and donors to carry out its important work of caring for the natural and built heritage of Scotland for everyone to enjoy.
From coastlines to castles, art to architecture, wildlife to wildernesses, the National Trust for Scotland exists to protect the national and natural treasures we all love. To discover how you can support the National Trust for Scotland for caring for these beautiful Scottish properties, visit www.nts.org.uk.