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Visit to Highclere Castle AKA Downton Abbey

Highclere castle is famous for being the home (Downton Abbey) of the fictional Lord and Lady Grantham and their family and servants. This television series has become popular in many countries and six series were made, with a film version due out in September this year. Because of the TV show, Highclere castle has become a popular tourist attraction for people from all over the world. Highclere castle has also been used for the filming of The Secret Garden, Jeeves and Wooster, Eyes Wide Shut etc.

I first saw the signs for Highclere castle back in 2003 when I lived in Winchester, and often wondered about this place. As a member of the National Trust and English Heritage I could not find this among their lists of places to visit. This is because it is privately owned and the family still live there today.

Highclere is very famous in its own right, as it is the home of the Earl of Carnarvon a descendant of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon famous for sponsoring the excavation of the Nobles tombs in Thebes in 1907 and who later accompanied Howard Carter during his discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

The castle was designed by Charles Barry, the architect of the Houses of Parliament, and the grounds by Capability Brown.

Over the years the castle fell in to disrepair and a lot of it became uninhabitable forcing the family to move into a cottage on the estate. The family decided to open the castle to paying visitors and this proved successful, especially with the popularity of the Downton Abbey TV series, and peoples interest in visiting the castle, As a result, the money raised from visitor ticket sales resulted in much needed repairs being carried out and the family were able to return to the castle.

As the castle is so popular, there is usually a queue to get inside. You can wander around the rooms on the ground and first floors and each room has a guide in there to answer any questions you may have. You are not allowed to take photographs inside the castle but you may take as many as you want outside.

In the cellar there is an exhibition detailing the discovery of Tutankhamuns tomb in Egypt, and in the courtyard there is a shop and some little cafes and tea rooms.

The gardens slope down to the old walled garden which in turn leads to the secret garden. With lots of flowers and shrubs it makes for a pleasant stroll.

Also on the grounds is a statue of an airman carved out of wood. Apparently there have been several military plane crashes near the grounds over the years, and at certain times during the day someone is available to give a talk about these.

Here are some of the snaps I took on my day there.

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