To TV fans, this 17th-century castle near Newbury is known as Downton Abbey. To the family that live there, it is known as Highclere Castle. While it is about to enjoy its moment on the big screen this month, Highclere Castle has a rich and varied history. It was here that the Constitution of Canada was drawn up in 1867, in 1922 the 5th Earl of Carnarvon set sail for Egypt was one of the men who discovered Tutankhamen’s Tomb. While the current Earl’s father was HM The Queen’s racing manager from 1969 to 2001. The family welcome visitors to the estate and run a host of special events throughout the year. From 2020 you can get there even faster as the Belmond British Pullman will be whisking guests to the castle. Speak to your Lightfoot Travel Designer about claiming a seat.
The grand interior of this National Trust property serves as the home of Aunt Rosamund in Belgrave Square. As the Downton team are pretending that it’s a VIP hideaway in London, you don’t get to see the sprawling gardens filled with Palladian architecture. However, if you visit during the summer months you will be able to discover what you are missing. Enjoy a picnic in the grounds or look out for one of outdoor theatre performances.
Alnwick Castle in Northumberland has already had its brush with fame before Downton Abbey – it starred as Hogwarts in the Harry Potter movies. However, Downton Abbey fans will recognise it as Brancaster Castle, where they Crawley family went grouse shooting. The castle throws open its doors to visitors and organises an array of activities including medieval jousts and historical tours for history buffs as well as wizarding workshops for Potter fans.