Lady Violet Crawley's home is up for sale. The property used as a home for Maggie Smith's character in Downton Abbey has gone on the market, for £3.95 million. In reality the property is actually Byfleet Manor, and while the dowager countess refers to it as her 'little cottage', it's an impressive mansion.
The 1686 manor house has eight bedrooms and four reception rooms, spread over 6,000 square feet. And if that's not enough to let you stretch your legs, there are also 19 acres of land.
The estate agent details show that the renovations have been entirely sympathetic to the history of the building, so any buyer looking for the millionaire trappings of an indoor pool and a media room may be disappointed.
However, they will have an impressive dining room, opening onto a sunny terrace, a panelled hallway with a dramatic wooden staircase, a panelled sitting room with an impressive fireplace and large chandelier, and a bathroom complete with an ornate historic bath in brass.
The bedrooms are subtly and tastefully decorated, so the new owner could bring in some period furniture and enjoy the Downton experience, or exploit the natural light of the property to give it a more modern feel.
What would you do with it?
At the moment it is being run as a business, and the current owner puts on special events - including wedding receptions, celebrations for special occasions, and filming (not just Downtown but a host of period dramas including Poirot. and Cranford). She is also benefiting in the interest from fans of Downton Abbey, and serves afternoon teas in the garden room or the 'famous Downton room' - with serving staff in period dress.
The new buyer could continue the business, and cash in on the enduring fame of this international success story. Alternatively, the owners could choose to use it as a more traditional family home.
The downside for any buyer is that although it is on the market for £3.95 million, given the enormous popularity of the programme around the world, it could end up the subject of a bidding war. Anyone with £4 million burning a hole in their pocket who fancies living the Downton life should be aware this isn't a done deal.
But what do you think? Would you want to live there? Or do you have your sights set on Downton Abbey itself (otherwise known as Highclere Castle)?
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