The must see place for all fans of the Downton Abbey TV series, by Richard Davies.
There is an old country house, located about an hour west of London, that is recognisable to millions. The house is called Highclere Castle, but to nearly everyone else it is known as Downton Abbey.
Highclere Castle has been used as the location for Downton Abbey since the beginning of the famous TV series. But did you know it’s possbile to visit the house and wander around the beautiful gardens, through the grand old rooms, and even “take tea” on the lawn?
Highclere Castle – Public Opening
The first thing you have to know about visiting Highclere Castle is that it is still a private house, owned and lived in by the Earl of Carnarvon and his family. In fact, the castle has been home to the Carnarvon family since 1679. So it’s not just a film set, or even a theme park. With that in mind, you will understand that sometimes it is closed to the public.
It is set to open again at Easter 2014. However, before you start marking dates in your diary, the tickets for entrace are limited. at the time of writing, the next available tickets are for Summer 2014, and these become available to book and buy from February 2014 through the Highclere official website here.
About the House and Gardens
Although there has been a country house or castle on the grounds since the 1600s, the current Highclere Castle was built in the 19th century in the Jacobethan style. It is set in huge grounds of 2,000 hectares (5,000 acres) in Hampshire. The gardens, or we should say “park” was designed by the famous by Capability Brown between 1774 and 1777.
There are some wonderful walks – all along marked footpaths – around the grounds available to anyone visiting Highclere during the public openeing times.
Inside, you can visit the state rooms, including many of the famous rooms used in the TV series. You can also visit “downstairs” where the servants would have worked, and where much of the action in the TV series takes place.
There is also an amazing collection of ancient Egyptian articfacts that you can visit. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon is responsible for the collection, which he made after he discovered, with Howard Carter, the Tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922. So you also get a taset of a real Indian Jones as well as Downton Abbey!
Highclere Castle address is:
The office phone number is +44 (0)1635 253 210
The 24 hour information line is: +44 (0)1635 253204
The nearest main town is Newbury. It will take about 1.5 hours to drive from London. Alternatively the regular trains from London Paddington take between 40 and 55 minutes.
Map of Highclere Castle
About the author: Richard Davies is a freelance writer based in Germany. He writes on all aspects of travel, in particular ferry travel, city breaks and camping in Europe.