Daily Escape

Shaftesbury Avenue

Photo by David Bank / JWL / Aurora Photos

Shaftesbury Avenue

London, England

For a bit of dramatic flair, head to Shaftesbury Avenue in central London. Take your pick of theatrical productions: Les Miserables at Queen’s Theatre, Anthony and Long Day’s Journey Into Night at the Apollo Theatre, to name a few. The avenue was also a film location for Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows -- film buffs will recall Hermione Granger saying that her parents often took her to one of the avenue’s famed theaters in her youth.


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Waddesdon Manor
Waddesdon Manor

Waddesdon Manor

The 12,000-acre estate of Haxby Park in Downton Abbey owes its impressive exterior to Waddesdon Manor. The sprawling country estate in Buckinghamshire, England, was built between 1874 and 1898 for Baron Ferdinand de Rothschild. Downton’s Mary calls the house large and rather vulgar; we call it rather divine. 960 1280

Elliott Brown, flickr  

Leeds, England

Leeds, England

Downton Abbey is set in Yorkshire County, with local cities such as Leeds mentioned in the show. The thriving city is home to more than 750,000 people, and can trace its history back to the 5th century, when the Celtic’s Kingdom of Elmet was covered by the forest of "Loidis," the origin of the name Leeds. 960 1280

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Ealing Studio

Ealing Studio

This West London studio is the oldest continuously operating film studio in the world, says Guinness World Records. Scenes focused on Downton Abbey’s servants’ quarters were shot on the studio’s 3A and 3B stages. 960 1280

Diamond Geezer, flickr  

Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle

Welcome to the real Downton Abbey. Since 1679, this sprawling, 1,000-acre estate in Hampshire, England, has been home to the aristocratic Carnarvon family. Tours of the castle include the gardens and woodlands, as well as the state rooms, such as the library, which is home to nearly 6,000 books. 960 1280

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Bampton

Bampton

Many of Downton’s exterior shots have been filmed in the village of Bampton in Oxfordshire, England. Among the sites captured on film is the Church of St. Mary the Virgin (pictured), a local parish church built in the 12th century. 960 1280

Holly Hayes, flickr  

County of Yorkshire

County of Yorkshire

This historic county in Northern England serves as the fictional location for the series. With its gently rolling hills, the countryside has earned the nickname of, “God’s Own County.” That’s no exaggeration; within its borders, the county contains some of the greenest areas in all of England. 960 1280

Paul Stevenson, flickr  

Malton

Malton

Downton’s characters often talk about this North Yorkshire town. The small, ancient locale, which historians say rests on the site of a former Roman settlement, is home to 4,000 people, and includes a cozy, charming market place with a number of cafes. 960 1280

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Rise Hall in Akenham

Rise Hall in Akenham

Downton’s gripping World War I scenes were filmed in Suffolk, near the village of Akenham. While you’re touring this stretch of Eastern England, check out the village: home to just 60 residents, with landmarks such this Georgian building on the site of an ancient manor house. 960 1280

Andrew Hill, Wikimedia Commons  

York

York

This city in North Yorkshire, England, was the site of one of the series’ most dramatic moments: John Bates’s trial for the murder of his wife, Vera. (Spoiler alert: a mutual acquaintance later helped to clear Mr. Bates’s name.) Pictured here is a city landmark, York Castle, a fortified complex build up over 9 centuries. 960 1280

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Greys Court

Greys Court

Shortly after their wedding, Downton Abbey newlyweds Lady Mary and Matthew Crawley went looking for property. Their search led to this picturesque 16th-century mansion, set amid a sweeping courtyard and gardens in Oxfordshire, England. 960 1280

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Residential street in Surrey, England
A Star Is Born

A Star Is Born

Born to 16-year-old Patricia Clapton on March 30, 1945, Eric “Slowhand” Clapton grew up in the English town of Ripley, Surrey. Too young to look after Eric on her own after his 24-year-old soldier father defected back to Canada, Patricia turned to her mother, Rose, and Rose’s second husband, Jack Clapp, to raise her son.

Did You Know? Until age 9, Eric believed that his mother was actually his sister.

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Charles Bowman / Design Pics / Axiom Photographic Agency / Getty Images  

London's West End

London's West End

Intrigued by the blues at an early age after hearing records by B.B. King and Buddy Guy — among others — Eric learned to play guitar as a young teenager, receiving his first instrument at 13. He spent the next couple of years busking around London’s West End and the suburbs of Richmond and Kingston, trying to make a name for himself.

Did You Know? In 2000, Clapton released the certified multiplatinum album Riding With the King with one of his idols, blues legend B.B. King.

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Luis Veiga / Photographer's Choice / Getty Images  

The Yardbirds

The Yardbirds

At age 17, after working alongside his grandfather as a bricklayer, Eric turned his full attention to music, earning his reputation by playing with local bands including the Roosters and Casey Jones & the Engineers. However, it wasn’t until October 1963 that Eric cultivated his style and became known as the best R&B guitar player on the English pub circuit, joining Keith Relf, Paul Samwell-Smith, Jim McCarty and Chris Dreja as a member of the Yardbirds.

Did You Know? Eric got the nickname "Slowhand" from the Yardbirds’ manager, because when he would break a string, he would stay on stage to fix it and receive a slow handclap from the crowd.

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CA / Redferns / Getty Images  

Clapton Is God

Clapton Is God

Eric left the Yardbirds after 18 months because of the group’s increasingly commercial sound and joined John Mayall’s band, the Bluesbreakers. It was during this time that he received his second nickname, “God,” after a superfan wrote “Clapton is God” in graffiti on the wall of London’s Islington Tube station.

Did You Know? Eric Clapton has been a part of 9 different bands in his career: the Roosters, Casey Jones & the Engineers, the Yardbirds, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers, Cream, Delaney & Bonnie & Friends, Blind Faith, Derek and the Dominos, and Legends.

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Kimberley Coole / Lonely Planet Images / Getty Images  

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Eric solidified his position as rock’s premier guitarist, elevating himself to superstar status as part of England’s first successful supergroup, Cream, alongside singer/bassist Jack Bruce and drummer Ginger Baker. After touring the US and receiving worldwide acclaim for their albums Fresh Cream, Disraeli Gears and Wheels of Fire, Cream disbanded because of several factors, primarily the members’ egos. Their final show as a band was on Nov. 26, 1968, at Royal Albert Hall in London. To date, Eric has played 198 shows at the world-famous arena, including a reunion show with the members of Cream 37 years after they called it quits.

Did You Know? The blues and psychedelic-rock style performed by Cream exemplified Eric’s distorted yet heavy guitar sound, which would later be dubbed the “woman tone.”

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Craig Roberts / Britain on View / Getty Images  

'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs'

'Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs'

Shortly after becoming close friends with the Beatles’ George Harrison in the late 1960s, Eric Clapton formed the band Derek and the Dominos, bringing in Jim Gordon, Bobby Whitlock and Carl Radle. It was during this time that Eric fell in love with George’s wife, Pattie Boyd, and created the concept album Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs. Eric eventually shared the song Layla with Pattie, telling her that she was the inspiration and professing his love for her. It wasn’t until 9 years later, after her divorce from George, that the 2 were married and moved into Clapton’s Hurtwood Edge Estate in Ewhurst, England.

Did You Know? George Harrison was the best man at Eric and Pattie’s wedding.

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Top: Michael Ochs Archives / Getty Images ; Bottom: John Rodgers / Redferns / Getty Images  

Don't Call It a Comeback

Don't Call It a Comeback

Although Eric and Pattie finally married in 1979, his love for her went unrequited for several years beforehand, forcing Eric into seclusion and leading him into a 3-year downward spiral induced by his overuse of heroin. Finally cleaning himself up, Eric returned to the spotlight in 1973, when he played back-to-back concerts, organized by Pete Townshend of the Who, at London’s Rainbow Theatre.

Did You Know? Eric and Pattie’s marriage lasted for just less than 10 years. He married Melia McEnery in 2002, and they have 3 daughters, Julie Rose, Ella Mae and Sophie.

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P. Floyd / Daily Express / Hulton Archive / Getty Images  

Live Aid

Live Aid

Known as one of the most iconic shows ever performed by Eric, the short-but-sweet, 4-song Live Aid set — which included White Room, She’s Waiting and Layla — elevated Slowhand’s career to new heights. He took the stage at John F. Kennedy Stadium in Philadelphia on July 13, 1985, and found a new audience at the worldwide charity event.

Did You Know? Live Aid was a dual-venue event that took place simultaneously at JFK Stadium in Philadelphia and Wembley Stadium in London.

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Mike Cameron / Referns / Getty Images  

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame

In the 1990s, Eric Patrick Clapton was honored twice by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland — in 1992 as a member of the Yardbirds, and then again in 1993 as a member of Cream. On March 6, 2000, Clapton was once again brought into the fold by the foundation’s committee, as he was inducted to the hall as a solo artist as well.

Did You Know? Eric is the only musician in history to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame 3 times.

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Education Images / Universal Images Group / Getty Images  

Madison Square Garden

Madison Square Garden

After several years of well-documented substance and alcohol abuse, as well as his courageous effort to get and remain clean, Eric opened Crossroads Centre, a drug-treatment facility on the Caribbean island of Antigua, in 1998 as a safe haven for those experiencing similar addictions. In a very successful attempt to raise funds for the center, Eric held a benefit concert in 1999 at the world-renowned Madison Square Garden in New York City. That event later developed into the Crossroads Guitar Festival.

Did You Know? There have been 5 Crossroads benefit concerts to date, the last occurring in 2013, again at MSG.

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Larry Busacca / Getty Images  

Buckingham Palace

Buckingham Palace

At Buckingham Palace in late 2004, Eric Clapton, now one of Britain’s most beloved rock stars, was honored with one of the United Kingdom’s most prestigious awards, being made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE, for his incredible services to the music industry. Among the vast amounts of praise heaped upon Eric throughout his career, he ranks second on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time.

Did You Know? Eric has won or shared 18 Grammy Awards, including the lifetime-achievement award in 2006.

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Stuart Black / Robert Harding World Imagery / Getty Images  


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