Friday, 11 May 2012

England Part VI - Downton Abbey

Did you watch Downton Abbey? This isn't really called Downton Abbey, that's simply this amazing building's identity in the successful TV drama.
The real name is Highclere Castle.

Highclere Castle is the home of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.

The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and the current Castle stands on the site of an earlier house, which in turn was built on the foundations of the medieval palace owned by the Bishops of Winchester for some 800 years.

The current (8th) Earl and Countess live partly in the Castle and partly nearby but remain closely involved in the Castle's day to day life.

It was 90 years ago in 1922 that the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the Tomb of the Egyptian Boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun .

People have lived here for over 1300 years. The house was transformed into a grand mansion starting in 1838 and completed in 1878. There are 11 bedrooms on the first floor, and 40-50 on the next floors which are no longer used.

We toured the ground floor walking through many of the rooms that were used in the TV drama. No pictures allowed, sorry. Then we had a cuppa tea in the servants quarters in the cellar. How the other half lived, indeed!

For more about my trip to England, please scroll down to previous posts.


  1. I thought you were going to tell us that you bought it. I would have totally visited you!
    Your Friend, m.

  2. What a beautiful building - how amazing that anyone could plan and build such a huge place and it still be standing today. I wouldn't like the heating bill!

  3. What an amazing building. I guess I would have had servants too. That's one BIG place.
    Glad you could have a cuppa in the basement.

  4. So, was this Castle used in filming Downtown Abbey interiors?

    This kind of History is staggering to contemplate....The renovation/ addition certainly took a l-o-n-g rime....!

    A fascinating trip, my dear...Thanks so much for sharing it with all of us.

  5. In answer to Old Lady, yes, this is where Downton Abbey was filmed, both inside and outside. There are marvellous grounds all around the estate. But the scenes in the servants quarters were filmed in a studio.

  6. These old buildings cost a mint to maintain - even Britain's National Trust are now knocking back offers to take over some of them and preserve them if they do not have a viable financial management plan in place so as not to be a drain on the Trust's financial resources.

    Still, they are lovely buildings. We have a derelict pub and an unused old Mill storehouse dating from the early to mid 1800's that some locals want the local council to preserve and restore (even tho' the pub bldg is privately owned). I don't think people realise just how much it would cost to bring those buildings up to scratch with current building codes so that they could become 'occupied'.

  7. For once you have been spared my "I knew that" or "I've been there"

    Nice history lesson as Downton Abbey is about to start here again.

  8. Oh, I adored that series! What a residence, can you IMAGINE the upkeep it must take? A friend of mine employed by The British National Trust, oversaw the restoration of a stately home similar to this - he lived in a self-contained flat in the basement, and invited hubby and me to spend a long weekend there. Most of the rooms were covered in dust-sheets, but not all. It took a full day to tour just the indoor rooms - and it was SOOOOO spooky, only us and the mice.

  9. This is a real castle!
    Can you believe, we visited tens of castles during our Scotland year. When we came back to Finland our two years old daughter asked , which castle we will visit now :)
    (She is now Melli`s and Mikael`s mother )
    Those castles are fascinating, I wish, they could tell all stories to us :)
    Happy Sunday to you and yours!

  10. This kind of building is what blew me away completely the first time I went to Toronto & Montreal, and then the UK: Hundreds of years old, so intricate, so solid. Where I grew up, a house that was 100 years old was often barely standing and completely weatherbeaten. By comparison, these places seemed magical!

  11. This is an interesting blog Shammikite. I know my wife Jill will be interested to read it as she likes the TV show Downton Abbey - Dave

  12. Wow, the architecture is spectacular. Hope you are having a wonderful holiday in England.

  13. The building sure is impressive!

  14. I love that show! I think I watched both season's within a 3 week time, I couldn't stop watching. Then I watched a short 5 minute clip about how it's filmed on location at the Carnarvon Castle, but it's much more interesting reading about it from you! What amazes me is that people have lived there for 1300 years. It's certainly a majestic building isn't it.

  15. It's hard to believe they really lived in places so humongous, Sham!

  16. Omg this is amazing!!! I wish I went with you XD... I would love to do something like this one day!

  17. Sandra in Northamptonshire, England.19 June 2012 at 17:42

    A little more information about Highclere Castle in the Royal County of Berkshire, the turn for which I pass when I drive down to my best friends in The New Forest, Hampshire. The late Earl of Carnarvon was Her Majesty The Queen's Racing Manager. My former employers (Weatherbys) are Secretaries to The Jockey Club and my then boss whose title was Director of Racing was invited to a horseracing meeting at Highclere Castle. It being circa 1995 of course would mean that was before the story of Downton Abbey was penned.

  18. Wow, you went there! That is so cool. Did Cora invite you for tea?


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