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Highclere Castle

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Fans of Downton Abbey should absolutely take the time to visit Highclere Castle, the country home which was used as the setting for the TV series and movie. It’s also a family home for the Earls of Carnarvon and houses centuries of history, so it’s a must-see for anyone interested in the lives of the real British aristocracy as well! The castle is only open on selected days throughout the year, and tickets sell out well in advance, so book ahead to secure your place.
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Guided Tours

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Downton Abbey Tour including Castle Entry & Lunch
4.6starstarstarstarstar half(35)
 
getyourguide.com
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Downton Abbey and Oxford Tour from London Including Highclere Castle
5.0starstarstarstarstar(348)
 
viator.com
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Downton Abbey and Highclere Castle Tour from London
5.0starstarstarstarstar(74)
 
viator.com
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Small-Group 'Downton Abbey' and Highclere Castle Tour from London
5.0starstarstarstarstar(55)
 
viator.com
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Specials

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Downton Abbey Tour from London with Highclere Castle, Bampton and Oxford Visit
4.8starstarstarstarstar(4)
 
veltra.com
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Private Round Trip Transfer : Heathrow or London to Highclere Castle
5.0starstarstarstarstar(1)
 
viator.com
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4 Tips for Visiting the Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle | Flickr: Richard Munckton CC BY 2.0
1
The castle is a private home and is only open on a limited number of days throughout the year. Double-check the dates of your visit to make sure the castle is definitely open and avoid disappointment.
Highclere Castle | Flickr: Andrew Stawarz CC BY-ND 2.0
2
The castle isn’t the easiest location to get to via public transport, but many providers offer day trips including transportation. If you’d rather not rent a car, then that might be the best option for you.
3
Tickets to seasonal events, especially those around Christmas, sell out well in advance, so book as early as you can!
4
Remember that the castle is the home of the Earl of Carnarvon and his family: follow the rules about photography and stick to the marked paths through the house and gardens.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Highclere Castle?

Highclere Castle is a country house currently owned by the 8th Earl of Carnarvon. The property was originally the site of the palace of the Bishops of Winchester and was recorded in the Domesday Book. It was bought by Sir Robert Sawyer, Attorney General to Charles II and James II, in 1679, and his descendants still own the castle to this day. His great-grandson was created Earl of Carnarvon by George III, and today the title is held by George Herbert, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, who lives at Highclere Castle with his wife the Countess of Carnarvon. The current castle is built in the Jacobethan style, also known as the Jacobean revival, by Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Houses of Parliament in London. Although the style was applied between 1842 and 1849, the goal was to make the house seem as though it had been built in the late 16th century. The interior of the castle features a range of furniture and artwork collected over the many generations who have called the house home, but several rooms are distinctive for their Victorian style. The house fell into disrepair towards the end of the 20th century, and the income from the filming of Downton Abbey and the popularity of the castle with tourists has meant that the owners can dedicate more funds to the conservation of the house. Currently, visitors can explore the staterooms and 12 of the castle bedrooms, but more rooms, including a children’s nursery, are being refurbished by Lady Carnarvon and may be open to the public in the future. Read more.

Which parts of the castle were used to film Downton Abbey?

Downton Abbey was a hugely popular period drama which ran between 2010 and 2015. It featured the story of a fictional aristocratic family, the Crawleys, who are heirs of the Earls of Grantham, and their servants. The six seasons covered the period from the sinking of the Titanic in 1912, through the First World War, until the final season in 1925. 2019 also saw the release of a movie adaptation that picks up the story in 1927. Highclere Castle became a familiar sight to the millions who watched the show around the world since it featured as the exterior of Downton Abbey, and the great hall, library, music room, drawing room, saloon, and dining room, in addition to several of the bedrooms, were used as filming locations. Most of the “downstairs” locations, such as the kitchen, were built at Ealing Studios rather than being filmed on-site, and exterior shots of Downton Village were generally shot in Bampton in Oxfordshire. Read more.

Is there still filming at Highclere Castle?

The Downton Abbey TV and movie projects have now wrapped filming, but the castle has also been used for other projects over the years, including Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, Agatha Christie’s Marple, and Jeeves and Wooster. There’s no guarantee that a future film or TV project won’t disturb visiting times, but details should be available on the castle’s website well in advance. Read more.

What’s inside the exhibition?

Fans of Egyptology will probably recognize the title “Earl of Carnarvon”. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was a keen amateur Egyptologist and in 1922 he sponsored a dig led by Howard Carter that led to the discovery of King Tutankhamun’s tomb. While most of King Tut’s finery is on display in Egypt, the Egyptian exhibition showcases a number of interesting artworks and artifacts from Lord Carnarvon’s collection, including some pieces which had previously been on display in the British Museum. There are also some replicas of items from Tutankhamun’s tomb, including the wall paintings, so that visitors can experience what it was like to discover “wonderful things” by candlelight. Read more.

Can I take photos inside?

Photography is not permitted inside Highclere Castle or the Egyptian Exhibition, but you can feel free to take photographs when exploring the gardens. Drones are not allowed anywhere on the property. Read more.

General Information

Opening Hours:

The castle is a private home and is only open to the public on certain dates and times throughout the year. There are special Christmas tours, winter tours, Valentine’s and Mother’s Day events, and themed tours in May and in September. The castle is open to the public on Sundays to Thursdays between July 12 and September 8, 2020. During the summer opening, you will need to choose between morning or afternoon tickets. On these days, the castle closes at 5 pm and the estate at 6 pm.

Address:

Highclere Castle
Highclere Park
Highclere
Newbury
RG20 9RN

Tickets:

Ticket and tour prices may vary depending on the date and event chosen. During the summer public opening season, tickets for the gardens only cost £7 for adults and £3 for children aged 4 to 16. Tickets for a combination of either the exhibition and gardens or the castle and gardens cost £17 for adults, £15.50 for over-60s, students, and disabled visitors, and £11 for children aged 4 to 16. Tickets for the castle, exhibition, and gardens cost £24 for adults, £22 for over-60s, students, and disabled visitors, and £14 for children aged 4 to 16. Disabled visitors can bring a companion free of charge, and children under the age of 4 can visit free of charge.

How to get there:

Highclere Castle isn’t easy to visit via public transport but it is possible with a bit of forward planning. Trains from London Paddington will take you to Newbury station, which is a 15-minute taxi ride away from the castle. Alternatively, trains from London Waterloo stop at Andover, which is a 20-minute taxi ride away from the castle. Car parking is available on-site if you’d prefer to drive.
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