This article was published on February 19th, 2017
Are you going through withdrawal since the series finale of Downton Abbey? Or are you reveling in the recent news that a prequel is in the works and anxious for more? Now is the time to visit the real Downton. Yes, Downton Abbey is a real place you can visit, see, and explore. On your next trip to England, make it a black-tie affair and experience the magic of Highclere Castle, the real-life location of the epic TV drama.
Still a working estate in its 8th generation, Highclere castle is a real residence and the current home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. The aristocrat house, affectionately as Downton was originally built as a brick mansion in the 15th and 16th centuries. The Carnarvon family obtained the estate in the mid 18th century and reconstruction began in the early 19th century. In 1838, the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon hired an architect to transform his home into the castle it is today. Completed in 1878, the castle became a center of societal and political life throughout the Victorian period.
Briefly transformed into a hospital and military training center during the World War I, Highclere was later transformed into a private home again following the conflict. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who, along with fellow archeologist Howard Carter, was responsible for the discovery of Pharaoh Tutankhamen’s tomb. Highclere once housed many Egyptian antiquities and now has a museum exhibition to showcase some of the Earl’s expansive collection of ancient Egyptian artifacts and museum-quality reproductions.
Canadians have a special reason to visit the Highclere Castle. Lady Carnarvon is an extensive researcher and has discovered records that show Canada’s first prime minister, Sir John A. Macdonald, held a meeting at the castle in December 1866—just month before Canada became an independent nation—to draft and debate much of the Canadian constitution. Highclere may have been the very location in which Canada was conceived!
Available for private events, activity days, cricket tournaments, gala awards, product launches, board meetings, conferences, private dining, park walks, and Downton Abbey tours, Highclere Castle is a fantastic day trip just 1 ½ hours (65 miles) west of London. Several public events are hosted per month and throughout the year, including high teas, the Highclere Country Show, garden parties, and more.
If you feel like getting dapper at Downton, now is your chance to dress up in black tie attire to feel like you’re a member of the Crawley family by visiting to Highclere Castle. Rich in history with plenty to see, learn, and do, Highclere Castle is waiting for you to make like Lord Grantham and visit the real-life Downton Abbey today.
Looking for more great ideas on things to see and do while in London? Visit Britain has plenty of great ideas and suggestions!