It’s a huge but beautiful country house of the Earland Countess of Grantham, it follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants early in the reign of George V. The first series spans the two years prior to the Great War, commencing with news of the sinking of the Titanic on 15 April 1912 and it is this sets the story in motion.
So it’s not exactly Victorian but it is a cracking good watch. However it’s not so much that story or the family we are interested in here it is the building.
Downton Abbey is in fact Highclere Castle in Hampshire. Owned by Lord and Lady Carnarvon, it has been used for exterior shots as well for some of the interior filming.
Highclere Castle was commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Canarvan and built by Sir Charles Barry who also built the current Houses of Parliament in Westminster. The new “Highclere Castle” dominated its surroundings in a stunning way, in fact Benjamin Disraeli remarked “How scenical! How scenical!”.
It went on to became quite a part of Victorian Era political life