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Highclere Castle - Downton Abbey Opening Dates

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by Nadine Cresswell-Myatt (subscribe)
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Highclere Castle, is the real-life Downton Abbey
Highclere castle, downton abbey

Highclere Castle, in Hampshire, England, is the real Downton Abbey.nThe Jacobethan palace, built in 1679 and home of the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon is the Downton Abbey of the series and newly released film.

Highclere castle, downton abbey

And it does throw open its doors to tourists on a regular basis, often with Downton-themed events.

How do I get to Highclere Castle - Downton Abbey ?

It is about a two-hour drive or train journey from London although there is also a shuttle available.

You can walk the stunning grounds, designed by Capability Brown in the 18th century, and take tours of sections of the 300-room house.

Highclere castle, downton abbey

You will no doubt spot the red sofas in the drawing room where Dame Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham), held court, as well as the valuable Van Dyck painting of Charles I on the wall.

You can descend those dramatic staircases as if you were also attending a ball and peer into the scandalous bedrooms.

Highclere castle, downton abbey

Special events come and go through the year, with Lady Carnarvon giving talks on subjects including the art and architecture of Highclere, plus evening cocktail events and galas. Lady Carnarvon has penned biographies of some of the real-life aristocratic residents of Highclere that inspired some of the Downton characters

At other times, you can also see the Carnarvons' curated Egyptian exhibition. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922 alongside Howard Carter.

Highclere castle, downton abbey

Can I buy afternoon tea or a meal at Highclere Castle?

There's a fine tea room open from 9:30am during public opening times for morning coffees, teas and croissants made in the Castle kitchens.

Hot light lunches are available from 12noon until 2pm and a choice of light bites such and sandwiches and cream teas are available throughout the day.

You are welcome to enjoy a picnic in the gardens. Highclere Castle is the private family home of the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and there is no access to the Estate, nor opportunity to see the Castle, outside of the events.

Is there a souvenir shop at Highclere Castle?

The Castle Gift Shop is open from 9.30am and offers a wide selection of gifts including stationery, bath products, chocolates, tea and biscuits, china mugs, books and souvenirs. You can buy a bottle of their premium dry London gin that has an image of Highclere Castle on the label.

Highclere castle, downton abbey

For Downton souvenirs, you would need to go further afield to Bampton in Oxfordshire, which is used as Downton village in the series. There you will find an exhibit of photos, location maps and gifts. Profits go to local causes.

Highclere Castle is only open on selected dates.

Entrance tickets are available in the morning and afternoon.

There are also shuttle buses, with entrance ticket and return minibus transport included from Central London. Click here.
Here are the forthcoming dates.


Real Lives & Film Sets Guided Tours, Oct/Nov 2019

Behind the Scenes, Castle Tours & Afternoon Tea. 22/23/24 November

Lady Carnarvon's Christmas at Highclere Book Talk & Tours. 7/13 December

Christmas at Highclere: Various Dates in November and December 2019- Events include Christmas afternoon teas, and dining in the State Dining Room. Charles Dickens' great-great-grandson, Gerald Dickens, will read excerpts from A Christmas Carol. Book now.

Evening Tours, Champagne & Carols. 11/17 December

Winter 2020

11, 12, 15 & 21 January, 2020 – special winter tours
23, 24 & 29 February, 2020 – special winter tours
14 February 2020 – special Valentine's evening reception
15 & 16 February, 2020 – special Valentine's Day celebration at Highclere

Spring 2020

11-26 April, 2020
3-5 May, 2020
10-16 May, 2020 – "Living in a Castle", a special event at Highclere
24-26 May, 2020

Summer 2020

12-31 July, 2020, except on Fridays and Saturdays
August 2020 – open every day except on Fridays and Saturdays
1-3 & 6-8 September, 2020

For prices and more details click here.

Can people stay at Highclere Castle?

Not usually inside the castle except that on Oct 1 it is first in best dressed as Airbnb is opening up a one night stay there for Nov 25th. For $159 some lucky person/couple gets an overnight stay and cocktails with the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon. Click here.

There are also a couple of lodges on the property where guests can stay. Click here.

For nearby Airbnb accommodation click here.

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Why? To visit or stay in luxury
When: Various dates - see article
Phone: The office phone number is 01635 253210 The 24 hour information line is: 01635 253204 E-mail:
Where: Highclere Castle Highclere Park NEWBURY RG20 9RN
Cost: See the real Downton Abbey
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