Easter Monday, I spent the day with a friend at Highclere Castle. Highclere Castle has been featured as Downton Abbey in the eponymous TV series. It will also be featured in the soon to be released Downton Abbey movie. The closest town is Newbury which was about an hour train ride from Paddington Station. We were very lucky, the day we went it was both beautiful outside and the castle wasn’t that crowded. There were enough people there to make it lively but not enough to make it seem like a crowd.
We got to Highclere Castle at about 10 am. There is a vintage Citroën H Van that is used as a food truck in the car park right before the entrance. We stopped and had an ice cream and a beer and enjoyed our view of the castle.
The walk up to Highclare Castle is very impressive. It’s easy to see why it was picked for the tv series. The grounds surrounding the castle are lovely. At the entrance to the tour is a gorgeous vintage Rolls Royce that belonged to the 6th Earl of Carnarvon.
We took the tour that included a tour of the castle and a tour of the Egyptian exhibition. I had not known previously but Highclere Castle is the home of the Earl of
Carnarvon. The current owner is the 8th Earl of Carnarvon. His great grandfather was the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was the financial backer and partner to Howard Carter, who discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. The Egyptian part of the tour consisted of artifacts from the 5th Earl’s excavations in Egypt and a reproduction of Tutankhamun’s tomb with replicas of the artifacts found in the tomb.
There were docents in every room of both the castle and the Egyptian exhibit. The docents were both friendly, informative, and willing to talk both about the castle and about the filming of Downton Abbey when asked. One of the docents told us that watching the filming was boring. They weren’t able to see much and most of the time they were there to make sure the film crew didn’t accidentally break anything.
They do not allow pictures either inside the castle or the in the Egyptian exhibition but you can take as many pictures as you like of the lovely outside. We spent a good 4 hours just on touring the castle and the Egyptian exhibit so we didn’t take an extensive tour of the gardens and we didn’t visit any of the follies.
While we were waiting for our cab to take us back to the Newbury train station, we spoke to one of the hospitality managers (we jokingly called him “Carson”) and he said that we were very lucky, Easter day had been crowded but Easter Monday was pretty much a perfect day to visit. We had to agree with him.
Here is information about Highclere Castle and how to book tickets for a tour: