For those of you familiar with the show Downton Abbey and the Crawley family, a visit to Highclere Castle where the show is based bound to fill you with excitement. With over 11 million viewers in the UK and shown in 100 countries around the world, the show bought the extravagant Victorian house into the limelight.
Highclere Castle found fame as the home of the Crawley family in the popular TV series, Downton Abbey. This was just in time as the building had begun to fall into a state of disrepair with the high maintenance costs. The increased popularity and some generous donations have bought the building close to its original grandeur now.
The writer of the show, Julian Fellowes, was well-acquainted with the aristocratic home as he had previously dined there with his friends, the 8th Earl and Countess. As a result, it’s likely that this was always his inspiration for the show and planned to be the backdrop for the family dramas.
Highclere Castle is a Jacobean style building, most similar to the Gothic style of the Houses of Parliament buildings in London, that is based in the English countryside. Its scenic location is complimented by the 1000 acres of parkland which surround it.
The building was first imagined by the Earl of Carnarvon and Sir Charles Barry, where it took 3 years to turn their vision into reality. This is the 18th Century building which we see today, but it is likely that there had been numerous other homes on the land before. In fact, the Iron Age Fort which remains suggests that this land has been inhabited for over 1300 years now.
The most unexpected secret of Highclere Castle is the Egyptian treasures hidden away there for many years. In 1906, Lord Carnarvon developed a passion for everything Egyptian and would spend a great deal of time exploring the country. He discovered and purchased a range of artefacts from the area, including some related to the discovery of Tutankhamun’s tomb – famously found by Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter.
Some of these treasures were sold off following Lord Carnarvon’s death in 1923, but many still remain in the castle today. The 8th Earl and Countess have opened the cellars of the building as one of the greatest Egyptian exhibitions in the UK.