“What is a weekend?” Those four famous lines professed by the beloved Maggie Smith, who brilliantly portrayed the Dowager of Countess in Jullian Fellowe’s Downton Abbey, were the words that rang in my mind as I walked up the pathway towards Highclere Castle.
Highclere Castle, situated in the countryside of Hampshire, England, is a 5,000-acre estate that leaves one absolutely speechless. Known in Downton Abbey as the primary home of the Crawley family, Highclere Castle has belonged to the Carnarvon family for hundreds of years. The 8th Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert and his wife Lady Carnarvon currently live at Highclere Castle, while opening up their home to the public for certain days out of the year.
Even if you have never seen the show Downton Abbey, a day trip to Highclere Castle is an absolute must during your trip to England! The estate and grounds are truly spectacular. We booked our tickets through Viator.
A ticket to Highclere Castle also includes a tour of the Downton Abbey Village (Bampton Village) where the Downton hospital (Bampton’s library), Isobel Crawley’s house, and the church are featured in the show. Hidden through the country back roads, this charming village was an absolute delight to spend time walking through.
Once at Highclere Castle, you could almost hear The Chamber Orchestra of London play the opening Downton suite as our coach made its way down the dirt road path and through the cedar trees where Carson and the rest of the staff greeted us (okay, not really, but we were greeted by some very friendly tour guides).
After exploring the magnificent library, parlour and bedrooms, we walked down the infamous red staircase and made a turn for the castle’s cafe where we had tea and scones in the gardens, the golden walls of Highclere Castle towering above our heads.
Unfortunately, we weren’t allowed to take any photos inside the castle (which is why you must go yourself!) The rooms are much larger than they appear on screen and I found myself wishing that we had even more time to explore the castle.
While the tour was lovely, there was also plenty of time to enjoy the gardens and walk around the estate in one’s own free time. The Highclere Castle and Downton Abbey tour was one of the highlights of my trip to England, and I would love to return another time. For now, I will return to re-watching the Crawley family on the screen while imagining that I am back in England’s countryside instead of my glorious work office.
Stay tuned for more travel posts about England. Next week, I will be sharing about what to do with four days in London. Until next time, cheers!