20 surprising facts about the first ‘Downton Abbey’ movie

The long-awaited Downton Abbey movie entertained audiences around the world in 2019.

With the sequel out now, did you know all these interesting facts about the first film?


1. Harry Potter star Imelda Staunton, who plays Lady Maud Bagshaw in the movie, is in real life married to Downton actor Jim Carter, who plays Mr Carson.


2. The movie’s plot about King George and Queen Mary visiting Yorkshire is based on a true story, although the real trip happened in 1912.


3. Scottish composer John Lunn, who wrote the soundtrack for the movie and every episode of the TV series, has also written several operas and composed the music for Little Dorrit, The White Queen, Grantchester and The Last Kingdom.


4. In the Ball scene, Maggie Smith is wearing an original 19th century platinum piece with 16.5 carats of diamonds!


5. The movie began filming on 10th September 2018, almost exactly 8 years since the first episode aired on ITV.


6. Allen Leech and Tuppence Middleton, who play Tom Branson and Lucy, had previously worked together on 2014 movie The Imitation Game – which also starred Henry Talbot actor Matthew Goode!


7. Dame Maggie Smith and Imelda Staunton had also appeared together as rivals on screen before, in 2007’s Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.


8. Highclere Castle, the main filming location for Downton Abbey, was listed on Airbnb for one night only in 2019.


9. The movie’s director Michael Engler is best known for directing episodes of many hit US comedy series, including 30 Rock, Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Parenthood, Sex & the City and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.


10. Lily James was sad to not be returning as Lady Rose in the movie and “was constantly texting Michelle [Dockery] and Laura [Carmichael] asking ‘What’s going on with the script? Who’s there right now? What’s happening on set?'”


11. Although the movie was released nearly 4 years after the final episode of the TV series aired, it’s only set one year later.


12. Dame Maggie Smith celebrated her 84th birthday during the movie’s shoot and the cast took part in an adorable birthday video for her.


13. Sue Johnston was originally set to return as Gladys Denker, lady’s maid to Violet Crawley, but her character was later cut from the script.


14. Outlander actor Ed Speleers has revealed he wasn’t even asked to return as Jimmy Kent.


15. The costume worn by Geraldine James as Queen Mary was made using material from one of the Queen’s actual dresses.


16. In early 2019 it was widely rumoured that Dan Stevens was going to appear in the movie as the ghost of Matthew Crawley.


17. Dame Maggie Smith was the last cast member to sign up for the movie, waiting to hear if everyone else had signed up first before she agreed to return as Lady Violet.


18. Allen Leech was unhappy with how the TV series ended for Tom Branson and feels that the movie gives his character “the ending he deserved.”


19. Upon its release, the movie topped the box office in both the UK and and the US.


20. While writing the movie, Downton creator Julian Fellowes was simultaneously working on no less than five other projects: The Chaperone, Belgravia, The English Game, Five Arrows and The Gilded Age.


Find out more Downton Abbey trivia about the TV series here.

The Downton Abbey movie is available on DVD on Amazon.