Hugh Bonneville backs bid to save building

Article for BBC News

5th January 2015
Source: BBC News

Downton Abbey star Hugh Bonneville has backed a campaign to save a 400-year-old building that features in the hit TV series.

Villagers in Bampton, Oxfordshire, want to raise £250,000 to restore their library and museum, which serves as Downton Cottage Hospital for the show.

It is hoped the former school could house a Downton Abbey museum.

“We as a cast are trying to give something back by raising awareness about this,” Bonneville, 51, said.

The actor, who plays the Earl of Grantham in the ITV period drama, told BBC Radio Oxford: “When the locals of Bampton told me last summer that this place, that we had slightly taken for granted, was beginning to really face some serious problems with the roof particularly, and the upper floor, I thought the least we could do was shout about it.”

‘Missed opportunity’

Campaign spokesman Robin Shuckburgh said the building, the Old Grammar School, was in “desperate need of repair”.

He said: “Bampton is incredibly popular with visitors because fans of Downton Abbey can recognise so many landmarks from the series.

“However, people want to visit the building and spend far more time here than we can accommodate, which is a shame for them and a missed opportunity for the village.”

Villagers said the unused second floor of the building was declared unsafe more than 30 years ago and the roof was in need of repair.

“If the roof falls in on this place we don’t have anywhere to film,” joked Bonneville, who has made a film for the campaign.

“Bampton has been incredibly important to our show: next to the castle it is probably the next most important physical location we have.

“If every viewer of Downton gave a little tiny bit then we could save this building for the future and for generations to come.”

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