Spitfire pilot, 95, snubbed Downton Abbey filming request because it 'interfered with her dinner party plans'

·Freelance Writer

A former Spitfire pilot who died aged 95 refused a request from Downton Abbey producers to use her posh house as a set – because it would disturb her dinner parties.

Molly Rose OBE was approached by the makers of the period drama who wanted to film in the dining room of her Listed home as the place where the Crawley family sat and ate.

But Mrs Rose told the production company they couldn’t use her home for a filming – as it would be too much of a disruption and she “didn’t want filming to interrupt her busy dinner party schedule”.

The Listed home was eyed by Downton Abbey makers who wanted to use it as a set (SWNS)
The Listed home was eyed by Downton Abbey makers who wanted to use it as a set (SWNS)

Her family say they offered to renovate the centrepiece room of Bampton House – worth £1.65m – to ease the inconvenience.

Had she agreed, Mrs Rose’s Grade II listed Georgian home, in the ancient market town of Bampton, Oxon., would have become the iconic setting of the hit British series.

But the former Air Transport Auxiliary pilot, who delivered more than 273 Spitfires during the Second World War, shot down the proposal in 2011.

MORE: Tourists flock to ‘iceberg alley’ to see first big ‘berg of the season
MORE: Veteran Tory Ken Clarke announces he will stand as MP again in June General Election

Her son Graham Rose, 70, of Appleton, Oxon., revealed: “The Downton Abbey people asked if they could use the dining room as a film set but mother said no.

“When I asked why, she told me: ‘They would want to redecorate it and I can’t possibly have that because it will be a disruption.

“‘I can’t have Downton Abbey disturbing my life.’”

The producers wanted to feature the dining room of the mansion (SWNS)
The producers wanted to feature the dining room of the mansion (SWNS)

He added: “Bampton House is the kind of place where you could have a horse and carriage drawing up and it would look perfectly normal.

“My mother said, ‘Well it might be ideal for you but not for me.’

“She told me she couldn’t possibly have them going there as it would be far too disruptive and said, ‘I have got people coming for dinner.’”

Former parish councillor and magistrate Mrs Rose was born Molly Marshall in Cambridge in 1920.

She married husband Bernard Rose in 1939 and went on to join the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1942 until 1945 after being awarded her pilot licence aged 17.

Mrs Rose said it would be too disruptive to allow her home to be a film set (SWNS)
Mrs Rose said it would be too disruptive to allow her home to be a film set (SWNS)

The wartime British civilian organisation – which had many women pilots – ferried new, repaired and damaged aircraft across the UK.

After the war, Mr and Mrs Bampton, who have three children, downsized from 15-bedroom Appleton Manor nearby and bought Bampton House in 1986.

They paid £200,000 for the former B&B and spent £67,000 refurbishing it, but it’s now under offer for more than £1.5m.

Set in walled gardens of three-quarters-of-an-acres, the property has high ceilings, feature fireplaces and a central sweeping staircase.

<em>Producers offered to renovate rooms in exchange for filming (SWNS)</em>
Producers offered to renovate rooms in exchange for filming (SWNS)

Bernard Rose, who died in 1996, was a Fellow in Music and organist at Oxford’s Magdalen College, where he tutored famous musician Dudley Moore.

He was also heavily involved with Bampton village church, St Mary’s, which features in Downton and is where both his and Mrs Rose’s ashes are scattered.

Mrs Rose, who received an OBE for her charity work, suffered a fatal a heart attack in October and her beloved eight-bedroom, six-bathroom house is now on the market.

Graham, a retired corporate boss, said of his mum: “She loved watching Downton Abbey which now makes it all the stranger she did not allow them to use her dining room.

Former Spitfire pilot Mrs Rose was awarded an OBE for her charity work (SWNS
Former Spitfire pilot Mrs Rose was awarded an OBE for her charity work (SWNS)

“At the time I was quite cross with her and said, ‘You really are a miserable old goat.’ She said, ‘I beg your pardon darling.’

“I said, ‘After you die and I try to sell the house it will probably have added 10 per cent value,’ but she didn’t worry about that.

“She would have met people like Maggie Smith and she would have liked that, but it was one of those where I just said, ‘Over to you, mother.’

“She was a real character and she lived life to the full.”

Top pic: SWNS

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting