Dame Maggie Smith has us all under her spell, and today we’re going to take an inside look at this amazing actresses’ life, her abundant career, and where this classy dame calls home. Read on…or you may just lose 10 points for Gryffindor!
With a career spanning over 66 years, Dame Margaret Natalie Smith has dedicated the last six decades of her life to theatre, television, and film – becoming one of the most respected and beloved names in the industry.
This phenomenal actress has lent her talents to over 50 films throughout her illustrious career; however, she is most often recognized for her roles as Professor Minerva McGonagall in the Harry Potter trilogy, Miss Shepherd in British film The Lady in the Van, and Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham in the critically acclaimed series Downton Abbey.
In addition to her long lineup of appearances on both television and film, Smith has also had a long-standing love affair with the stage, making her professional theatre debut on Broadway in 1956 in the play New Faces of 1956.
Smith has earned numerous awards during the span of her career, including three Golden Globes, an Academy Award, and four Primetime Emmy Awards. She was even awarded both the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1970, and the Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 1990 by Queen Elizabeth II in the Queen’s New Year Honours list in recognition of her contributions to film, stage, and screen.
Where Does Dame Maggie Smith Live?
Dame Maggie Smith reportedly resides in the gorgeous little town of Pulborough in West Sussex. Her picturesque 15th-century red brick home, purchased by Smith and late husband and playwright Beverley Cross in 1981, is located on a large plot of land in the English countryside. The 5-bedroom farmhouse features three barns, a vineyard, a horse stable, and an orchard containing apples, mulberries, pears, plums, and walnuts.
Although other sources say her home is one place, our thorough digging challenges other reports. We’ve linked Maggie to the home directly next door to the other reports. And what makes us to sure? Well, she even had Google Maps blur the street view of the home!
This was also the home in which Smith raised her two sons, Christopher and Toby, who have both followed in their famous mum’s footsteps and become respected actors themselves.
Fun Fact: You may recognize one of Smith’s famous sons, Toby Stephens, from a little show called Black Sails (2014-2017), in which he played the rugged Captain Flint. His brother, Chris Larkin, also appeared on several episodes of the swashbuckling hit series as Captain Berringer.
Maggie Smith’s House in Downton Abbey
Located in West Byfleet, Surrey, Byfleet Manor (aka home of the Dowager Countess herself) in real life possesses a rich history and long list of royal owners. The first mention of Byfleet dates back to around 727 when the land was owned by Chertsey Abbey. In 1086, it was written that Byfleet had a manor, a church, a large forest, and a mill.
The manor would later be gifted by King Edward II to his assumed lover Piers Gaveston, a nobleman who had joined his household sometime in the 1300s. Many years after that, Anne of Denmark, the wife of King James I, commissioned a brand-new home to be built in the place of the original home in 1619; however, Anne would never see her project fully completed as she passed away before it was finished.
In 1685, the manor would be once again rebuilt due to the original structure being destroyed. The new Byfleet Manor would be much smaller than its predecessor, but still possessed such an air of grandeur that it would continue to be owned and visited by some pretty important people of the time, such as Queen Catherine of Braganza – wife of King Charles II and queen consort of England, Ireland, and Scotland. The house would not undergo any other alterations until 1905 when it went through a massive restoration process that helped restore the manor to its former glory.
In addition to restoring what was already there, two asymmetrical wings were also built into the home, making it the larger manor house that we recognize as smith’s Downton Abbey abode today.
The 6,000 square-foot manor house features four reception rooms, eight bedrooms, and sits on 18 acres of land. It was sold for 6 million Pounds in 2015! Talk about luxurious!
Fun fact: Downton Abbey was not the first time Byfleet Manor appeared on television. In fact, this lavish manor was also featured in the 2014 Disney film Into the Woods, the BBC series Cranford, and Agatha Christie’s Poirot: After the Funeral.
What Has Maggie Smith Been In?
In addition to bewitching her fans in the Harry Potter franchise and Downton Abbey, Dame Maggie Smith has also starred in numerous other film classics throughout her career; however, some of the most notable films within her long filmography include:
- Hook: In Steven Spielberg’s 1991 revisioning of the beloved story of Peter Pan and his adventures in Neverland, Smith starred opposite Robin William’s Peter Pan as Granny Wendy. The film also starred other big names in Hollywood such as Dustin Hoffman and a young up-and-comer by the name of Julia Roberts.
- My House in Umbria: Based on the novella written by William Trevor, this 2003 film stars Smith as an eccentric romance writer living in Umbria in central Italy. After surviving a train bombing committed by terrorists, Smith welcomes three fellow survivors to stay at her villa with her to recover from the traumatic experience they endured. What follows is a story of strength, love, and perseverance.
- The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel: This 2011 film follows the journey of seven British retirees who travel to India to stay at what is believed to be a fully restored luxury hotel. However, upon arrival, the group quickly begins to realize that the hotel was not quite as it was advertised. Despite this, they slowly begin to fall under the charm of the old hotel and the country in which it resides.
- The Lady in the Van: Based on true events, The Lady in the Van tells the story of famous playwright Alan Bennett’s unique friendship with a peculiar homeless woman (Smith), known as Miss Mary Shepherd, over the 15-year span in which she resides in her van parked in the driveway of Bennett’s Camden residence. The film adaptation, originally a stage play written by Bennett himself, was shot in the actual home where these real-life events took place.
- Upcoming Downton Abbey Project: In 2018, it was announced that Dame Maggie Smith would reprise her role as Violet Crawley – Dowager Countess of Grantham for a film adaptation of the popular British period drama Downton Abbey. Fans of the series will also be happy to hear that many other Downton favorites will also be returning for the film, scheduled to be released (hopefully) in 2019.
Fun Fact: Both Dame Maggie Smith, Robert Stephens (her first husband), and son Toby Stephens have all played parts in Britain’s most beloved franchises. Robert Stephens voiced Aragorn in the radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, Maggie taught us all the beauty of magic as Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series, and Toby starred as a nemesis of James Bond in the film Die Another Day.
Maggie Smith Net Worth
With six decades in the industry and over 50 different films under her belt, it’s no surprise that Dame Maggie Smith is worth a fortune. In fact, her net worth has reached an incredible $18 million as of 2018!
How Old Is Maggie Smith?
Dame Smith was born December 28, 1934, making her 83 years old. It seemed even from a young age, Smith was destined to be a star. At just 18, she was already beginning her career as a stage actress, performing at the famous Oxford Playhouse in 1952.
Despite her age, it seems the actress isn’t quitting the business and going into retirement just yet. In 2018, she voiced her McGonagall video game counterpart in Harry Potter: Hogwarts Mystery, and lent her voice once again for the children’s film Sherlock Gnomes.
Maggie Smith Cancer
In 2008, right before the filming of Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, Smith was diagnosed with breast cancer and was forced to fight a hard battle against the disease with aggressive bouts of chemotherapy. Despite being in a highly weakened state from these chemo sessions, Smith still went on to star as the beloved professor McGonagall in the sixth installment of the Harry Potter series and was only halfway through her treatment when she began filming. Her reason for reprising her role while battling such an awful illness? Because she didn’t want to disappoint fans of the series.
A year after undergoing chemotherapy treatments, Dame Smith was given a clean bill of health by doctors. In a 2009 interview with The Telegraph, Smith spoke openly about her cancer battle, the hair loss she experienced due to treatments, the physical toll the illness had taken on her during the filming of the sixth Potter film, and life after treatment.
Her devotion to her fans, her strength, and her courage in the face of adversity make Dame Maggie Smith a truly one of a kind lady and one of the most adored, talented actresses of our time.