Byfleet Manor has fame, intrigue, mystery, and centuries of history. It is best known today as the set for the Dower House in “Downton Abbey,” which is the residence of matriarch Violet Crawley, the Dowager Countess of Grantham, portrayed by Maggie Smith.
And now as the television series is coming to a close after six seasons, owner Julie Hutton recently listed the Surrey home for 3.950 GBP, or about $6.225 million. (The last season will air in the U.S. in 2016.)
The house last made the news in 2013 when a secret room was discovered. The room was found below flooring by workers installing computer cabling, and is 7 feet square with a bricked-up window. At the time Hutton told the BBC the room could have been a priest’s hole, leading to a secret tunnel that may have led to Newark Abbey, long since demolished in the 1530s.
Of course, the estate also has a centuries-long history prior to playing Lady Violet’s home. Byfleet was established in the 7th century. The home existing on the site today was built around 1686, but incorporated some details of the previous original hunting lodge, which was gifted from King Edward II to rumored lover Piers Gaveston. The asymmetrical wings were added on in 1905, when the house was also restored.
Byfleet is more than 6,000 square feet on about 19 acres and is located in the town of Byfleet, just 20 miles from central London, and 15 miles from Heathrow airport. It’s a Grade II listed building, a category of the United Kingdom’s Statutory List of Buildings of Special Architectural or Historic Interest.
The manor has eight bedrooms, four reception rooms, a wood paneled hall, a dining room that opens to a stone terrace, and river frontage. The interiors are appointed mostly in a traditional style, although one of the rooms has vibrant flower-patterned wallpaper on the ceiling, and one of the bathrooms has been updated with a fashionable copper soaking tub, marble floor and fixtures, and a chandelier.
Byfleet has also appeared in the TV adaptation of Agatha Christie’s Poirot: After the Funeral and the BBC series Cranford. The exterior served as Cinderella’s home in the 2014 Disney film Into the Woods.
Proprietor Hutton was previously the owner/manager of Vancouver Studios London aparthotels, and for more than two decades before that, she managed high-end residential rental properties. The house has also been open to the public for tea parties and Downton Abbey-themed tours.