Downton Abbey 3: All we know from new and returning cast to plot and location details

Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern and Laura Carmichael in Downton Abbey (2019)
Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern and Laura Carmichael in Downton Abbey (2019) (Jaap Buitendijk / Focus Features)

This is not a drill – Downton Abbey is returning to the big screen in a third film! The beloved period drama will once again be penned by Julian Fellowes, with the director of 2022's Downton Abbey: A New Era, Simon Curtis, at the helm.

After weeks of speculation, the news was confirmed on X, formerly known as Twitter, alongside a video of the cast gathering for a table read.

Keep reading for everything we know about the upcoming third film, from the cast list to location and plot details.

Downton Abbey 3 cast: returning and new members

Many of the original cast members are set to reprise their roles, including Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Robert James-Collier, Joanne Froggatt, Allen Leech, and Penelope Wilton.

Lesley Nicol, Michael Fox, Raquel Cassidy, Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, Harry Hadden-Paton, Sophie McShera, and Douglas Reith are also returning, alongside Dominic West, who portrayed Guy Dexter in the second film, and Paul Giamatti, who played Cora Grantham's brother Harold Levinson in a previous Christmas special.

LAURACARMICHAEL as Lady Edith, ELIZABETH MCGOVERN as Cora, Countess of Grantham & MICHELLE DOCKERY as Lady Mary
Production is underway on the third film (Nick Briggs/Carnival Films)

Some new faces have been added to the cast, including Joely Richardson, Alessandro Nivola, Simon Russell Beale and Arty Froushan.

It's also been teased that "many other fan favourites" will appear in the film.

Joely Richardson looked stunning in a long pink dress
Joely Richardson has joined the cast (Getty)

Sadly, one star who won't be making an appearance is Maggie Smith, who's character Violet Crawley passed away in the last film.

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Downton Abbey 3 filming location

The beautiful grounds of Highclere Castle will be back on our screens as the Crawley family seat.

The Countess of Carnarvon, who owns the 17th-century stately home, revealed that filming will take place both inside the castle and around the grounds. "As well as filming inside, some days – weather willing – will hopefully be spent outside around the lawns, on the paths and around the park," she told Tatler.

highclere castle downton abbey
The film is in production at Highclere Castle

Downton Abbey 3 plot details

So far, no plot details have been announced. However, the third film follows 2022's A New Era, which ended in the late 1920s with the heartbreaking passing of Crawley matriarch, Lady Violet, who passed the torch on to her granddaughter Lady Mary to oversee the running of Downton.

We also watched as Lady Mary's marriage came under strain amid her husband Henry Talbot's absence, which was incorporated into the plot as Matthew Goode could not film due to scheduling conflicts.

Michelle starred in the hit series and the two movies
Lady Mary's marriage came under strain in A New Era (ITV)

Elsewhere in the second instalment, we saw Edith continue working for a London-based society magazine, while Daisy played cupid with Mrs Patmore and her former father-in-law, Mr Mason. Fans also watched as Molesley and Miss Baxter became engaged, while Lady Cora was diagnosed with pernicious anaemia, a very treatable condition.

Could the third film pick up on some of the storylines from A New Era? Taking Matthew's absence from the cast list into account, it's possible that Mary could be on the hunt for a new suitor if her marriage with Henry continues to suffer.

Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley and Michelle Dockery as Lady Mary Talbot 'Downton Abbey' Film - 2019
Maggie Smith will not feature in the third film (Focus Features/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Teasing the new film, the Countess of Carnarvon called the production "a leap of imagination and faith and all of it irresistible" during an interview with Tatler.

Downton Abbey 3 release date

We don't have a release date just yet, but considering production has only just begun, we'd expect to see the new film on our screens sometime in 2025 or early 2026.