The Carnarvon family has lived at Highclere since 1679, and it is built on the foundation that was once underneath a castle owned by the Bishops of Winchester. It is now used for the filming of Downton Abbey.
The mansion's greatest transformation was in 1838, when the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon named it Highclere Castle for the first time. 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.
The current (8th) Earl of Carnarvon currently lives in Highclere Castle with the Countess, his wife.
Past residents of Highclere Castle are:
- Henry, 1st Earl of Carnarvon (1741-1811)
- Henry, 2nd Earl of Carnarvon (1772-1833)
- Henry, 3rd Earl of Carnarvon (1831-1890)
- George, 5th Earl of Carnarvon (1866-1923)
- Henry, 6th Earl of Carnarvon (1898-1987)
- Henry, 7th Earl of Carnarvon (1923-2001)
- George, 8th Earl of Carnarvon (1956-present)
Highclere Castle boasts many ornate and beautiful rooms, 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