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Image courtesy of Bampton Archive
Watched by millions of viewers, in hundreds of countries, Downton Abbey has certainly proved to be a big hit. Great acting, cracking story lines and a wealth of characters aside, whether you are a fan of the programme or not, there is no denying that the surrounding Cotswolds countryside, providing the setting for much of the filming of Downton, is simply outstanding and may go a long way to explain its appeal.
And talking of appeal, the Old Grammar School at Bampton in Oxfordshire, better known to the world as the Cottage Hospital in the Downton Abbey series, has recently launched an appeal for funds.
This beautiful building came to belong to the village of Bampton thanks to an act of remarkable generosity on the part of a rich, seventeenth century wool merchant named Robert Vesey. He left the property as a gift to the local people upon his death in 1635.
Since that time, the Old Grammar School has been used for various meetings and events by villagers. In the mid 1960s a public library was opened on the ground floor where it remains and thrives today. Then, in the 1990’s an exhibition space for West Oxfordshire Arts opened up. Since 2002, the newly formed Bampton Museum now the Bampton Community Archive has also been housed in the Old Grammar School. The remarkable success of ITV’s Downton Abbey has brought the building and its environs to the attention of a huge audience as the village cottage hospital. Originally portrayed as a First World War recuperation and treatment centre for repatriated soldiers, it has played a part in every medical storyline since the series began.
The current concern is that Vesey’s dream of a building to benefit the people of the village could be about to crumble – as the building has been doing for at least five decades. With no access to the upper floor (the stairs were removed some years ago on safety grounds) and the need for full refurbishment, a campaign to raise quarter of a million pounds has been launched to save this historic building and bring it back into full public use.
Bampton lies to the edge of the Oxfordshire Cotswolds and is one of the oldest and prettiest villages in the area. Whilst retaining much of the character of the traditional Cotswold village it is also a hive of activity. Take a look at the local community website: Bampton Beam. The village also boasts an excellent array of amenities including a post office, bank, the library and art gallery, two churches, a wide array of shops and a market square.
Why not book a visit to this part of the Cotswolds and come and see the Old Grammar School for yourself? Committed Downton fans can also follow a Cotswolds Downton Trail by visiting the tourist website: Oxfordshire Cotswolds.
Self catering holiday properties available to book, located in wonderful villages and hamlets close to Bampton include:
Meadowbank Farm in the hamlet of Lew sleeping up to 16: MEADOW
Home Farm in Cokethorpe sleeping up to 16:HOME
Rectory Cottage in Alvescot near Burford sleeping 10: RECTORY
Garden Cottage in Black Bourton renowned for its medieval church, sleeping 2GARDEN
Little Stables near Clanfield, another beautiful hamlet with pretty church and popular restaurant, sleeping 2STABLES
To book online please visit Manor Cottages or to speak to one our helpful members of staff (some of whom are Downton fans!) please call us on 01993 824252.