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Highclere Castle


The most anticipated part of the entire trip for me, was our tour of Highclere Castle aka DOWNTON ABBEY! We bought our tickets like 3 months in advance and I looked forward to it for WEEKS! The second day of our trip my mom and I headed back out to Heathrow to pick up our rental car so we could drive out to the Newbury area.  The tickets we bought were for a special guided tour of the Castle with time to view the grounds and gardens, and a special little tea time at the end. I started watching the show again from the beginning in preparation for our tour and I honestly hope I can go again someday because there are just so many details to look at, I couldn't catch it all in one visit. Plus, the scones they served with the tea were possibly the most delicious thing I have ever eaten.  So I definitely wouldn't mind another tea time at Downton.

For a house, it is obviously humongous, but we were actually kind of surprised at how small some of the rooms were. In Downton Abbey, the dining room for example seems HUGE, but really it isn't very big and I can't imagine how they get all the cameras and lights and actors in the room when they're filming the big dinner parties. The pretty blue drawing room was also smaller than I was expecting. We got to see the bedrooms upstairs and because we ended up being a bit late for our tour we got to tour them privately, without our group, which was pretty cool. We peeked at all of the bedrooms upstairs which included Sybil's, Edith's, Cora's, and the "naughty room" as the tour lady called it, where Mr. Pamuk stayed when you-know-what happened. We learned that Lady Mary's bedroom was actually a set, so behind the door where her room is located was a room that wasn't her's on the show. We also got to see some of the bathrooms, which hadn't been updated in MANY years, but weren't built with the rest of the house (seeing as the house was built before indoor plumbing). They had some pretty interesting fixtures like mint green tub/toilet/sink.

In the basement of the castle instead of finding the kitchen/servant area, there is an Egyptian exhibit. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon became quite an Egyptologist in his later years and funded Howard Carter in excavating in the Valley of the Kings. During the last years of the Earl's life, when he was just about to give up, saying he could no longer afford to fund these excavations, they discovered King Tut's tomb. (I visited the Valley of the Kings while I studied at the Jerusalem Center on our trip to Egypt, and King Tut's tomb was definitely a highlight.)

The tour was fantastic, the castle is incredible, and I loved visiting and seeing where one of my favorite shows was filmed!

^^AD MDCCCXLII ---->1842 written above the front door and UNG JE SERVIRAY written all over, which means "we serve as one"

Attached to the back of the castle is this brick building that now contains the gift shop, part of the Egypt exhibit and some offices. I'm not sure how they never show this part of the castle in the show. I wasn't expecting to see it attached to the castle. We enjoyed our afternoon tea and refreshments in one of the back buildings. On the walls they had a bunch of framed magazine and newspaper articles that have been written about the show which were interesting to read as well as pictures of the making of Downton, actors getting ready, getting touch-ups on their make up, etc. that were really fascinating. They had pictures like this set up in most of the rooms in the castle as well.

^^Enjoying our afternoon tea (with our herbal tea, which we brought from home, haha). Those scones though..... MMMMMM! I want one right now!

^^Our little Ford Fiesta, with the steering wheel on the right side of the car.

I'm pretty fascinated with the whole estate including the current owners, the 8th Earl and Lady Carnarvon and how they have turned an amazing historical building into a pop culture "icon" (on our tour they kept talking about how the house is a character on the show just as much as any of the real characters) and how they have been open to new uses of the estate (like allowing TV shows to to filmed there) to be able to generate enough money to keep up with maintaining an estate this old.

Such a fantastic day and memory on our fun trip!

P.S. While my mom and I were touring Highclere, Jordan was Superdad touring London with the girls! They had a busy and fun day. They rode the London Eye, went to Hamley's, toured the Transportation Museum, and even did a Thames River cruise!


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