Royal Hospital Chelsea in Downton Abbey
Date posted: 01.10.2010
The new series Downton Abbey (made by Carnival Films for ITV) has hit our screens, taking pride of place in the Sunday evening schedule.
Set in 1912, the story follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and the servants who work for them. The lavish period drama was created, written and exec-produced by Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park, Vanity Fair, The Young Victoria) and stars Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern.
Highclere Castle in Berkshire, where the majority of filming took place, became the Crawley family's country estate of Downton. However, a number of scenes were also shot in London - including at the Royal Hospital Chelsea.
Founded in 1682 by King Charles II, the Royal Hospital Chelsea is a retirement and nursing home for British soldiers who are unfit for further duty due to injury or old age. The impressive Grade I listed buildings were designed by Sir Christopher Wren and represent one of the outstanding glories of English architecture. Sitting in 66 acres of beautiful parkland - the hospital can feel like an oasis in the heart of London.
Both exterior and interior scenes were filmed at the Royal Hospital, with the production using Figure Court and College Court as exteriors for the Duke of York's regimental barracks. The interiors of the Orderly room and Master Butler room also featured in the series, as a ward at the local village hospital.
For Location Manager Richard May the Royal Hospital was "a lovely place to work and film". He went on to say: "We were very lucky that our schedule allowed us to fit in between two major events; The Chelsea Flower Show and the Hospital's Founder's Day."
Fitting filming in around the day to day running of a home for over 300 pensioners can be a challenge but Events Officer, Gareth Hatton was "delighted that Richard and the rest of the production were so exemplary in filming within a schedule that did not disrupt the routine of the Chelsea Pensioners." He went on to remark: "If anything, they included them!"
The Master Butler area is currently due to be refurbished, but other areas of the hospital are available for filming - dependent upon a site visit with Gareth or another member of the events team. For more information please call 020 7881 5298.