Here's Where You Can Visit The Castle From Downton Abbey

Do you want to experience life in a real British castle? Made famous from the historical drama television series "Downton Abbey," Highclere Castle is surely on many a bucket list. Designed by English gardener and landscape architect Lancelot "Capability" Brown in the 18th century, Highclere Castle is majestic in stature in Jacobethan Revival architectural style that is both classic and gothic. The renowned Carnarvon family has occupied the captivating manor since 1679, including the current residents, the Countess and Earl of Carnarvon, who also maintain the lively estate. According to Independent Travel Cats, the family is associated with two different preceding Lord Carnarvon's; one initiated the Canadian federation, the other provided financial support toward archaeologist Howard Carter in the discovery of Egyptian King Tutankhamun's tomb in 1922.

The magnificent Highclere Castle is located about an hour and a half ride from bustling London in Hampshire, England (65 miles west). With nearly 1,500 visitors a day, there are a variety of tours to choose from on your visit to the 5,000-acre estate, which are available at least 60-70 days each year, per House Beautiful. With limited dates and exclusive engagements, the main attractions include the State Rooms, the Egyptian Exhibition, and the widespread gardens and grounds. Tours are available mostly in the spring and summer months, with few dates available around holidays like Christmas and Easter. The royal couple also welcomes other royalty, politicians, celebrated authors, and film stars on occasion. Are you ready to immerse yourself in historical British society?

How to tour Highclere Castle

There are several ways to spend your time visiting Highclere Castle, whether it's a daily excursion, special event, or an overnight stay. From a Mother's Day guided tour with champagne afternoon tea to a summer Battle Proms Concert with cavalry and fireworks, there is something for everyone. Special guided tours and events include the use of the marvelous tearooms and cafes, including the chance to taste a Highclere Castle Gin cocktail at the bar. Tours are often limited and fill up quickly, so it's best to book your dates based on what is available, but according to your schedule as well, per London Toolkit.

The Spring Public Opening dates generally run from April into May, including weekends and the holidays in May. The main Highclere Castle public opening is during the summer, with dates available from July to September. Keep in mind that the castle is closed on Fridays and Saturdays. General admission tickets for the castle and gardens are approximately £20.50 for adults and £13.00 for children. If including the Egyptian Exhibition, it's £27.50 for adults and £16.00 for children per Highclere Castle. Tickets to the castle alone should be booked in advance, but if you only want to walk and hike on the trails, it's free! Stroll along public walking trails like Highclere Park public walk and Beacon Hill public footpath. For further details on pricing, guided tour options, and events, their website is full of great information.

How to travel to Highclere from London

There are a few ways to reach Highclere Castle from London: car, train, or taxi, with the most efficient way being by train. From London, a good way to travel is the 40-minute train ride from Paddington Station to Newbury via Great Western Railway, then grab a taxi for an additional 15-minute drive to the castle, per Rail Europe. If you prefer a long English countryside walk, it's approximately two and a half hours, but taxis are generally available at the station. Another train route exists from London Waterloo to Andover (20 minutes away).

Upon return, you should book a taxi, as they are not readily waiting. Highclere Castle is located about 5 miles south of Newbury with buses that run only three to four times a day (except Sunday). You can also rent or ride with a friend by car via the M4 motorway. Follow the indicated signs as you make your way to the free designated parking area. Using your GPS will only lead you to an inappropriate entrance, also noted by Independent Travel Cats.

Staying overnight at Highclere

Although you can't stay inside the grand fortress itself, you can sleep overnight on the grounds of Highclere Castle by renting one of the splendid properties on the outstanding estate. The distinguished London Lodge was built following the celebration of Colonel Henry Herbert becoming the first Earl of Carnarvon in 1793. It features a stately entrance to Highclere and has two wings, including one double bedroom. A two-night stay is available for a cost of £850, per Tourist England.

Designed by Victorian architect Thomas Allom about 150 years ago, the Grotto Lodge is a charming medieval-style structure and can be rented for a minimum of two nights at £1,200 per room. Book additional nights at £400/night. The Grotto features two double bedrooms, one on each floor, positioned above the kitchen and sitting room. Both of these exclusive properties can only be reserved by creating an account through the Highclere website, as they are both frequently booked with limited availability.

Highclere, Hollywood, and beyond

Like the Empire State Building and New York City, the awe-inspiring Highclere Castle estate has become a prominent character in a multitude of films, including various television series and video appearances. Although it was made famous from Julian Fellowes' "Downton Abbey" series, including two major motion pictures (one yet to be released in April 2022), this historical saga is not the first time Lord and Lady Carnarvon have opened the doors to their home. Based on P.G. Wodehouse's "Jeeves" stories, the British sitcom "Jeeves and Wooster" was filmed at the famed castle for four seasons, plus several other films like "The Secret Garden" with Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley of "Downton Abbey"), including a scene from Stanley Kubrick's "Eyes Wide Shut," and singer John Legend's 2006 "Heaven" music video, per GBH.

With all the history and stories captured at Highclere Castle, you can relive the drama or create your own story however you choose. If you seek more than just a visit, other ways to experience the splendor of the estate is to book your dream wedding or partake in outdoor activities such as cricket or other specialized corporate events. In addition, see what life is like with the real-life Mrs. Crawley. Besides maintaining the grounds and events of the castle, Lady Fiona Carnarvon is an author of several books and also contributes to her personal podcast, which is made available for listening midday on the last Thursdays of each month.