Downton Abbey fans are partly paying for an exciting project to transform a village community hub in Bampton.

The Old Grammar School will soon be reconstructed with new stairs, fitting out of the top floor and the complete restoration and updating of the ground floor.

There will be a new exhibition space, a computerised archive, a larger shop and a state-of-the-art library.

Bampton doubled as the fictional northern village of Downton in the hit ITV series. Some of the most famous scenes were shot there, including Lady Mary’s wedding to Matthew Crawley which was filmed at St Mary’s Church.

And although there has been a huge fundraising effort, organisers said the arrival of the period drama and the visitors it brought was a game changer.

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Robin Shuckburgh, chairman of Bampton Community Archive (BCA), said: “The extraordinary success of this series and the fact that the grammar school was used as the Cottage Hospital in the filming and that the Church Close was the village green of Downton changed the situation dramatically.

“It became possible for the BCA to exploit the substantial tourism that came to Bampton and with the huge and dedicated local group of volunteers who manned the shop, guided the visitors, managed as best they could the traffic of the tourists, the money started to mount up.”

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The Old Grammar School was looked after by the Bampton Exhibition Foundation until the 1960s when an odd decision was taken to remove the staircase to stop the public getting to the upper floor which had been declared unsafe.

Twelve years ago, Oxfordshire county council’s library department leased the ground floor for the village library and offered part of the space to the West Ox Arts society and the Bampton Community Archive who held three exhibitions of local interest there every year.

Jo Lewington, founder of the BCA, decided to restore the staircase and re-open the spectacular space upstairs.

This project required the repair of the Cotswold stone roof, costing over a quarter of a million pounds.

With the huge financial help of the BEF, West Oxfordshire District Council and many other smaller donors phase one was completed in 2017 by entirely restoring the roof.

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Now the money has been raised for phase two and contractor Drew Warren will start work later this month.

Mr Shuckburgh said: “The Archive will be based there, and the room will be used as a meeting place for courses in country trades, talks on any subject under the sun, exhibitions of art, crafts, educational courses and many other things. Our ambitions are boundless.

“If the Downton tourism returns, and it is by no means certain, we will use this asset to provide a more managed experience for the crowds.”