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Devoted to Downton

Visit the famous Downton Abbey locations of Highclere Castle and Bampton on our 7-day bike tour

If you’ve seen the show, the image of Highclere Castle will be instantly familiar as the proud and stately home of the Crawley family in Downton Abbey. And just as famous, if a little less majestic, is the lovely village of Bampton where many of the drama’s external shots are shot. From castle grandeur to chocolate box heritage – these two stops on our tours are totally irresistible.

The story so far

Starting in 1912, the period drama tells the tale of life and love in an Edwardian stately home. Written by Julian Fellowes and starring Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville, the show focuses on the ways in which the lives of the aristocracy and their servants are intertwined.

Downton Facts

  • Downton Abbey has over 11 million viewers in the UK alone
  • Each episode costs around a £1 million to make
  • Sir Andrew Lloyd Webber tried to buy Highclere Castle to house his large art collection
  • The first season of Downton Abbey won six Emmys
  • The series is broadcast in over 100 countries around the world
  • Queen Elizabeth has been an overnight guest at Highclere Castle
  • Famous Downton fans include Harrison Ford, Gary Oldman and Katy Perry!

Highclere Castle

The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679. The present Lord Carnarvon, the eighth Earl, is now over 80 and still resides at the castle. The cellar of Highclere holds a special history of its own – a curious Egyptian exhibition. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon, an enthusiastic Egyptologist, collected these artefacts over 100 years ago.

The impressive 50-bedroom castle was built over 300 years ago. And its division between upstairs and downstairs is equally fascinating. Above you’ll find opulent staterooms, dining rooms, a music room and a library complete with 6000 books! And in stark contrast is the plain simplicity of the servant’s kitchen and living area ‘below stairs’.

The grounds contain over 1000 acres of formal gardens and parkland. There is an enchanting secret garden as well as fragrant borders of lavender and rhododendrons. And beyond that, you’ll find parkland with lakes and the Wood of Goodwill.

Bampton

One of the overnight stops on our tours is at Wheelgate House, a 250-year-old, stone-built house in the idyllic village of Bampton. The quaint community has charming features like the village square and friendly local shops – but that’s not why people from all over the world come here. It’s because every year this quiet little place becomes the fictitious village of Downton.

The beautiful church of St Mary’s has starred in many episodes and the village library is used as a cottage hospital in the show. Other attractions include the local pub and the cottage used as the former home of Matthew Crawley.

As the popularity of Downton Abbey grows so too does the demand to visit this internationally famous landmark. Because of this tours of the castle are limited and access is quite restricted. Please let us know as early as possible if you are interested in visiting and we will do our best to book you in on a tour of the house and grounds.

Join us on a 7-day bike tour for an unforgettable trip through the Cotswolds. Experience the finery of Highclere Castle, the enchanting village of Bampton and so much more along the way.