The indomitable Dowager Countess, lovely Lady Mary, and troublemaking Thomas – to “Downton Abbey” series fans, following their adventures is not so much a pastime as it is an obsession. Much of the attraction is the outstanding beauty of its settings. We were lucky enough to visit the filming locations for the Grantham Estate and Downton Village, experiencing their splendor for ourselves!
Below are our highlights and some visitor tips for each “Downton Destination.”
“Downton Abbey” – filmed at Highclere Castle in Newbury (~70 mi. west of London), the ancestral home of the Earls of Carnarvon.
- Castle – We toured the state rooms (Saloon, Drawing Room, Dining Room, Library), the Gallery and bedrooms (including Lady Mary’s!) before descending back down the famous Oak Staircase.
- Egyptian Exhibit – The 5th Earl of Carnarvon sponsored the excavation that found King Tutankhamen’s tomb. We viewed highlights of the trip, artifacts and worked with our son to ‘excavate’ buried relics!
- Grounds – Highclere has about 1,000 acres of parkland, woodlands and spectacular gardens. We expected the Castle to be the highlight – but the grounds won us over!
- Watch the website – tickets sell out fast. Summer 2014 dates are posted on the website, with tickets on sale around April 2014.
- The castle has admittance ‘windows,’ but the grounds are open all day. To avoid peak crowds, we arrived 45 minutes after the morning opening and we even had some of the state rooms to ourselves. Then, we enjoyed lunch at the on-site tea rooms and spent a leisurely afternoon exploring the grounds.
- Highclere is accessible by train from London (plus cab), or by car. Bus tours also do Highclere and Bampton in one day.
Our view on arrival at Highclere:
Come back to the RCI Blog this week to see more “Downton” photos, plus stories and photos from RCI subscribing members who have also visited England - cheers!