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DOWN­TON Abbey doesn’t come cheaply. Film­ing of the sec­ond se­ries had a ru­moured bud­get of about $1.5 mil­lion an episode. A visit to the set of the hit British drama is eye-open­ing. I feel like I have stepped back in time as the her­itage prop­erty ap­pears through a veil of rain. I’m rugged up, jet­lagged and ever so slightly damp af­ter be­ing caught in a down­pour. A lunch break has been called as I arrive on set, so I join cast and crew in a queue for a slice of the warm­ing steak and mush­room pie on of­fer. It’s a grey old day at High­clere Cas­tle, the grand es­tate in New­bury, where the lush pe­riod drama, em­braced by view­ers from Eng­land to the US and Aus­tralia, is set. High­clere Cas­tle, owned by Lord and Lady Carnar­von, is ma­jes­tic. Inside, it is a hive of ac­tiv­ity. Film­ing of the Craw­leys’ home life pri­mar­ily takes place in five rooms — the li­brary, din­ing room, mu­sic room, saloon and draw­ing room. Scenes of the down­stairs life at Down­ton, such as the kitchens, are filmed on sets at Eal­ing Stu­dios in Lon­don. FIONA BYRNE Don’t Miss our Down­ton Abbey ipad ex­clu­sive, which gives a be­hind-the-scenes look at pro­duc­tion on the top-rat­ing pe­riod drama.

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