Bucket List – Visit Highclere Castle the home to Downton Abbey

In 2012, after hearing a lot of people talk about a TV show and how they were excited series three was starting soon. Me and my mum sat down and watched the re-runs of the previous two series and after one episode I was hooked and loved it. The TV show is set around the Crawley family, there life living in grand house and the ins and out of the family and the servants which serve them. If you haven’t already guessed, the show is called Downton Abbey.

The show is a huge success, fans love it coming in from around the world to see it. Not only loved for the writing the actor but the aesthetics of it as well like the clothes, the rooms, the furniture and being transported to the era of the time. The setting of where it is filmed, is the main reason why I love the show. Downton Abbey is set in Highclere Castle, which is located in the outskirts of Newbury, Berkshire across a 5,000-acre estate.

Today, I got to finally go and see it for myself….

Waking up early and followed the signs to Highclere Castle. Driving up the long drive, you follow a twisty road, in the far distance you see the house, suddenly turning up in the car park, it is completely revealed.

Arriving on the gate for just after 9am we were lucky enough to get a gate ticket. The ticket costed £22.00, but it included a tour around the house, down into the Egypt exhibition and the gardens. Thinking it was quite expensive, you could easily spend the day there, with a picnic, playing lawn games and walking around the grounds. We spent five hours, got our money worth.

You think the drive is a long, but it’s quite short, with a path walking up, which gives you perfect photos. Arriving early, meant we didn’t get anyone in the background.

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The house looks very grand and perfect outside, the entrance way is stunning. Walking around I kept remembering scenes from the outside. I kept thinking about what would it be like driving up to it, seeing the servants and family greet you. The back of it, needs work to be done, but drawing in crowds, tickets which sell out every summer they are constantly doing work to help maintain.

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Next it was time to go inside….

The grandness of the rooms, the colour, the furniture, paintings, doors and everything else is exactly the same as on the TV show. It really does make you feel like your in the TV show itself. Each room has a guide to ask any questions, about the show or the house were friendly. They encouraged the strict rules of no photography inside the house too.

My favourite rooms were the Dining room, the library and the hallway including the upstairs landing, foyer and staircase. Walking down the stairs, I kept thinking this is the stairs Lord Grantham walked down and the stairs both Lady Mary and Edith walked down when leaving to marry.Leaving upstairs, you go down the servants stairs and enter a museum about Tutankhamun and Egyptians, which was interesting. I liked the next bit which was about the history of the house.

Leaving the gates, you enter into the courtyard, where we stopped and had tea and scones, which I thought would be costly, but was less than £10 for two. Afterwards, we entered the very disappointing gift shop. No patch badges, no little knick-knacks or any Downton Abbey books, DVDs etc on sale. Completely different to when we went to Alnwick Castle.

Leaving the house, we went for a walk around the gardens, a monks garden and a not-so secret one, with stunning flowers and trees throughout. One which we stopped and looked at the different colours and plants. I don’t know why, but gardens in grand houses are so much more exciting to walk around then anywhere else.

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Leaving the gardens, the final memorial statue was left to see. Last photos of the house from the outside. By this time the grounds were busy with people having picnics and taking photos. We sat around and took in the atmosphere, before making our way out down the long drive.

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Able to say now that I have been to Highclere Castle, is a dream come true and one of the main bucket list dreams to tick off. I’ve been wanting to come for years and years, I got sick of waiting, so to spontaneously decide to do this on my 30th is the best timing ever. I loved every second of it.

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