You might want to accompany your reading of this post with the Downton Abbey theme music if you’re a fan of the TV show like me. I know I’m not the only fan because getting tickets to visit Highclere Castle is harder than getting into a sold-out Justin Timberlake concert. The popularity of the BBC series Downtown Abbey, filmed at real-life Highclere Castle, has catapulted the formerly sleepy Victorian mansion into a top tourist destination.
The best way to snag tickets is to keep an eye on the Highclere website for the next available dates. I booked tickets back in February for my parent’s visit last month. It was well worth the advance planning and I had a fabulous time pretending to be Lady Mary wandering the grounds of my mansion with Lord Grantham.
Highclere has unique history of its own beyond serving as the setting for Downton Abbey. The current owners are the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and the house has been in their family over 300 years. It was designed by the same architect as the Houses of Parliament so you’ll see the similarity between the two buildings.
As part of your entry fee you’re granted access to the extensive gardens. We saw a few families who had packed a picnic lunch and were relaxing after their house tour. There are also cafes and gift shops so you have plenty of onsite options too.
P.S. Season 5 of the show has already started on this side of the pond but won’t reach US audiences until January 2015. Mwahahaha.
Know Before You Go:
- We spent 2-3 hours touring the house and grounds.
- According to their “Visit Us” page:
“We are open for between 60 and 70 days each year. We are open for two weeks over Easter, for each of the May Bank holidays, and for two months (Sunday to Thursday) over the summer months. We also open for a few days in early December.”
- From London Paddington take the train to Newbury then a quick 10 minute taxi to Highclere Castle costing ~15GBP each way. More directions here.