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Thread: Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

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    Default Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

    Highclere Castle in Masterpiece’s “Downton Abbey” Series

    by hookedonhouses on January 23, 2011

    Have you been watching the addictive period drama “Downton Abbey” on PBS? It was written by the brilliant Julian Fellowes (Gosford Park) about a grand English house in the early 1900s and the people who live in it–both the Grantham family that owns it and the servants who run it.
    I am love-love-loving this series! So I had to find out more about Highclere Castle, the estate it takes place in.

    “The sun is rising behind Downton Abbey, a great and splendid house in a great and splendid park. So secure does it appear, that it seems as if the way of life it represents will last for another thousand years. It won’t.”
    The “great and splendid house” is a 1,000-acre estate in Hampshire that has (in real life) been the country seat of the Earls of Carnarvon since 1679.

    Julian Fellowes says the house is “A statement of Victorian confidence.” The present-day building was designed in 1842 by Sir Charles Barry, the architect responsible for building the Houses of Parliament in Westminster.
    It took a large and devoted staff to run a place of this magnitude, and we get to know the servants in “Downton Abbey” as well as the Grantham family they work for.

    The series stars the wonderful Maggie Smith as Dowager Countess of Grantham (who steals every scene she’s in), Hugh Bonneville as the Earl of Grantham and Elizabeth McGovern as his American wife, Cora.
    The Great Hall:

    The story opens in 1912, just after the Titanic has sunk, taking the estate’s two male heirs down with it. The Earl has three daughters, none of whom can legally inherit Downton Abbey.

    Dining Room:

    Drawing Room:

    The Earl married Cora, a wealthy American heiress, because he needed her money to keep the estate running. A house like this is expensive to maintain!
    She put all of her inheritance into the place and now faces losing it all, simply because they have no sons to leave it to. Cora and her mother-in-law (Maggie Smith) have joined forces in an attempt to find a way around it.

    The Library:

    It set a record for being the most expensive television series ever filmed in England, costing about a million pounds per episode!

    The Castle’s history also includes a fascinating connection with ancient Egypt. In 1922, the 5th Earl discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. The Castle houses an exhibition that commemorates the event. You can learn more about Highclere and see the rest of the photos on their website.

    The servants’ quarters in the series had to be built as separate sets in Ealing because they have changed so much since 1912.
    Here’s an interesting look behind the scenes at the castle with a tour from Lady Carnarvon:
    There are 7 episodes in all, which already aired to record ratings in England, but a shortened, 4-episode version is now being shown in the U.S.–Sunday nights on PBS (final episode airs January 30). UPDATE: Readers have explained that this does not mean edited–we’re just getting them without commercials.
    For a limited time, you can watch the earlier episodes online at if you missed them. Netflix will have the DVDs available starting Tuesday the 25th, and I’ve already got them in my queue! It has been so popular that a second season has already been ordered, along with a Christmas special.
    Any other “Downton” fans out there?
    Highclere Castle in Masterpiece’s “Downton Abbey” Series

    Link to Highclere Castle, Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, Downton Abbey itself

    Yes, you too can get married there... Weddings at Highclere Castle, Marquees, civil ceremonies, buffets, Banqueting, Hampshire, Berkshire

    16 September 2012 Last updated at 16:59 Share this page


    Downton Abbey 'legacy' at Highclere Castle

    Downton Abbey follows the lives of the Crawley family and their servants
    Continue reading the main story Related Stories

    The owners of the house where Downton Abbey is filmed has said the "legacy" of the show would live on for years.
    Lady Carnarvon hopes Highclere Castle, on the Hampshire-Berkshire border near Newbury, will emulate the success of Castle Howard, well-known as the set for 1980s show Brideshead Revisited.
    Downton Abbey follows the lives of the Crawley family and their servants.
    The ITV1 show is set in the 1920s and begins its third series on Sunday night.
    Lady Carnarvon said: "Brideshead must have been more than 20 to 25 years ago now and that's allowed Castle Howard to go on and use that legacy for years.
    "We've been lucky enough to have three years of Downton and I'm sure it will be as strong for us as Brideshead was for Castle Howard."

    BBC News - Downton Abbey 'legacy' at Highclere Castle

    14 September 2012 Last updated at 14:33 Share this page

    Downton Abbey: Can Bampton village cope with all the attention?

    The period drama is set in a fictional Yorkshire country house and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants
    Continue reading the main story Related Stories

    Coach loads of Downton Abbey fans have been turning up in the Oxfordshire village where scenes for the hit show are filmed - but can the village of Bampton cope with all the extra attention?
    The village is at the "heart of a storm" of one of the "biggest television moments in history," said Robin Shuckburgh, chairman of Bampton Archive which aims to preserve the village's social history.
    He believes Bampton - where exterior shots for the show are filmed - needs to come up with a "strategy" to cope with its recent fame.
    "The village isn't quite prepared for this kind of influx - it's an interesting experience," he said.
    Continue reading the main story “Start Quote

    "We're just addicted to Downton Abbey - simple answer”
    Alison Hirst Dublin coach tripper
    "The coaches are coming at a rate of maybe two or three a week - but we have a sneaking feeling that they are going to increase quite soon - so we're just going to have to wait and see."
    'Quaint' The third series of the award-winning ITV1 show, set in the 1920s, begins soon.
    The period drama is set in a fictional Yorkshire country house and follows the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their servants.
    Although set in Yorkshire, exterior scenes for the show are filmed in Bampton and inside the stately home Highclere Castle in Berkshire.
    Alison Hirst, from Dublin, and her mother Elizabeth Hirst, were among the coach trippers to Bampton.
    "We're just addicted to Downton Abbey - simple answer," she said.

    Although set in Yorkshire, exterior scenes for the show are filmed in Bampton (200 miles south)
    "Just addicted - and I saw this tour advertised in a newspaper in Ireland and got on the phone to my mum and asked whether she'd be interested.
    "I think we just fell in love with the characters - it's so believable - and I think we're all obsessed with the different classes.
    "It's quaint here - all the buildings - and it's just really pleasant."
    Bampton's atmosphere has changed since tours started arriving in the village, said Mr Shuckburgh.
    "When two coaches pitch up at the same time and 70 people descend on the square it changes the character of the place completely," he said.
    "We do need to look rather carefully at what that's going to do to us in the future."
    Mr Shuckburgh said it would be a "shame" if the village was affected "badly" and did not benefit from the increased tourism.
    A shop has started selling Edwardian-themed memorabilia.
    Tour guide Maureen Maloney said: "Two coach loads went in and absolutely cleared the library - they didn't know what hit them - of mugs and books and postcards.
    "If we'd been able to get more bookings to Highclere we would have had half the population of Ireland here.
    "It's very difficult to get bookings at Highclere - but we'll be well ahead of the posse next year."
    BBC News - Downton Abbey: Can Bampton village cope with all the attention?
    Waterslide likes this.
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    Elite Member McJag's Avatar
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    I would like to be on one of those coaches! Would love to see this.
    I didn't start out to collect diamonds, but somehow they just kept piling up.-Mae West

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    Elite Member Waterslide's Avatar
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    Jul 2010
    out where the buses don't run


    I would do anything in the world to live there. I love this place so much. *sigh*

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