Downton Abbey movie begins filming at Highclere Castle as the cast arrive on set

Aerial images of the set show the famous residence now surrounded by catering facilities and accommodation for the cast during long filming sessions.

A large car with privacy windows is parked outside Highclere Castle after transporting Downton's cast to set.

There's also a large catering marquee to ensure the movie's large cast and crew are fed throughout the gruelling filming days.

Returning stars, including Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, can unwind in a cluster of luxury trailers parked behind the famous estate.

Studio lighting placed on the front of the lawn suggests filming of exterior scenes has already taken place.

Highclere Castle usually offers Downton Abbey themed guided tours but will be closed to the public for the 10 week filming period, with current owner The Countess of Carnarvon recently expressing her glee at welcoming the returning cast.

She said: "We are delighted to be welcoming Downton back to Highclere again.

"Julian [Fellowes] and the wonderful cast and crew of Downton were part of our lives and we will enjoy our next role with them."

Elizabeth McGovern – who plays Lady Cora Crawley – assured fans that they won't be disappointed with the movie's top secret plot.

Quizzed about the Downton Abbey film while appearing on Good Morning Britain, she answered: "Well we are starting very soon and that's as much as I know.

"I've got a script. It's good, the fans will love it."

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