13/08/2015 15:48 BST | Updated 13/08/2016 06:12 BST

Bring Me A Handkerchief, Carson! Tears Shed As Downton Abbey Is Wrapped

The women rule Downton Abbey - at least according to Hugh Bonneville, who plays the Earl of Grantham, Robert Crawley, in the period drama.

"As we all know, the house is actually run by the women," he said. "People like Robert are allowed to think that they run the place, but really it's Cora, Mary, and everybody else who are pulling the strings."

Speaking at a press screening at the May Fair Hotel in London, the Downton Abbey cast revealed it had been emotional as they wrapped filming on the final scenes of the sixth season, which will be the ITV drama's last.

Joanna Froggatt, who plays lady's maid Anna Bates, said she was glad to finish early on the final day of filming with the Abbey's servants.

"I just had my own tears, but it developed into everybody in tears by the end of the day, so I think I would have been been in absolute pieces if I'd been there for that very last moment," the 34-year-old admitted.

"But it was a wonderful final day actually, it was all the things you would hope it would be. It was happy, sad, it felt like a good time to finish this and we were all doing it together."

Executive producer Gareth Neame added: "I can tell you that quite a few tears were shed by grown men in the form of butlers and footmen that I never expected to see."

As for what's next, Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the Dowager Countess, plans to relax with a Downton Abbey box-set.

The 80-year-old said: "I'm going to be lying down. I believe for quite some time. The other thing I will be doing is watching it. I will get the box set and have a good look. I certainly haven't watched anything that I've done. I have seen some of it, but I want to sit down and look at it all."

Explaining his decision to end the show after six seasons, writer and creator Julian Fellowes said: "The characters have been so real to me for six years. I say goodbye to these golden years with a slight pang. But it seems the right time to go while we're still firing."

However, the writer hinted there could be a Downton Abbey film "if and when it ever happens", and indicated that the cast would be on board.

"Were there ever to be a Downton movie, it would strangely have to be just like the TV show, and yet at the same time completely different," he explained.

Dame Maggie added: "It would be fun. I'm not sure if the wig will be around, but hopefully I will be. I think the wig is slightly more tired than I am."

Downton Abbey is the highest rating UK television drama of the past decade, with an average of 11 million viewers over the course of the last five series. The drama was presented with a Bafta special award earlier this week, in recognition of its contribution to television in the UK and around the world.

The final season will air in the autumn on ITV.