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Highclere Castle

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Highclere Castle is the real-life castle where Downton Abbey is filmed.


The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and is built on the foundation that was once underneath a castle owned by the Bishops of Winchester[1]. It is now used for the filming of Downton Abbey.

Prior to 1839, a square classical mansion stood on the site. The mansion's greatest transformation occured in 1839-1842, when the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon had it remodelled and largely rebuilt by Sir Charles Barry[2], the same architect who designed the Houses of Parliament[3] and renamed it Highclere Castle. Over the next hundred years, it became an important building for political use and was briefly a hospital during WWI and a home for evacuee children during WWII.

In 2009, major repairs were needed to the estate. The cost of the estate repairs would be £12 million, and £1.8 million on the castle alone. Once Downton Abbey began filming at the site, the number of tourists increased dramatically and paid for many of the needed repairs.[4]

Current ResidentsEdit

The current (8th) Earl of Carnarvon[5] currently lives in Highclere Castle with the Countess, his wife during the winter months. They return to their cottage during the summer when the castle is open to the public and tours are going on.[citation needed]

Past ResidentsEdit

Past residents of Highclere Castle are[6]:

  • Henry, 1st Earl of Carnarvon (1741-1811)[7]
  • Henry, 2nd Earl of Carnarvon (1772-1833)[8]
  • Henry, 3rd Earl of Carnarvon (1831-1890)[9]
  • George, 5th Earl of Carnarvon (1866-1923)[10]
  • Henry, 6th Earl of Carnarvon (1898-1987)[11]
  • Henry, 7th Earl of Carnarvon (1923-2001)[12]


Highclere Castle boasts many ornate and beautiful rooms[13], some of which you might see on Downton Abbey. Some are:

  • Music Room, with a baroque ceiling painted in the 1730s and the walls adorned with tapestries.
  • Dining Room- Decorated with Van Dyck's great equestrian portrait
  • Saloon- The heart of the house both physically and socially. Leather wall coverings hung in the 1860s
  • Library- Over 5,650 books in the Library- the earliest is from the 16th century!
  • Smoking Room- The Smoking Room is adorned with paintings from the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries, some of Dutch origin.
  • Drawing Room- a fine room decorated in the "recoco rivival" style

External LinksEdit

References Edit

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