Our visit to Highclere Castle was not a regularly scheduled tour. And, no, we didn’t break in.
Both Greg and I are big fans of the show Downton Abbey and wanted to make this a part of our trip. Tours are limited to only the summer months, but there were none scheduled during our trip. However, Greg found that Highclere Castle was hosting a fundraiser for Marlborough College, a local private school associated to Eton (where Princes Willam & Harry and Kate attended). Although we had no connection to Marlborough College, Greg seized the opportunity to purchase tickets to the event and surprise me!!
The castle is amazing and the grounds are stunning. Not only were we treated to endless amounts of champagne, but we were able to tour the castle. The bedrooms used by Lady Grantham, Mary, Cybil and Edith, along with the Library, sitting rooms and the main foyer that were common scenes on Downton Abbey were open for viewing. It was like stepping into the show itself! The furniture and drapes were as they appeared on the show. As much as I wanted to, photos were not allowed to be taken inside the Castle. But, here are few of the outside…
Highclere Castle is an actual home that is occupied by the Earl of Carnarvon and Lady Carnarvon. During the event, Lady Carnarvon spoke to guests. An articulate, intelligent and beautiful woman, she is staunchly proud of Highlclere Castle and its place in English history. She also an author and has a blog!
Along with being a residence and the former setting of Downton Abbey, it also houses an impressive Egyptian exhibit on Tutankhamun (aka King Tut). In 1922, the the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert, helped to unearth the tomb of Tutankhamun. Some of the original artifacts from this expedition are on display, along with a replica of Tutankhamun’s mummified body and coffin. The original body and coffin were given to the Museum of Egyptian Antiquities in Cairo, Egypt.
Overall, this was an AMAZING experience we will never forget.
Getting to Highclere Castle –
Given our visit to Highclere Castle was to be an evening event, we arranged for overnight accommodation and opted to drive there from London. Now, that was an adventure and not for the faint of heart. London traffic and narrow roads aside, driving on the left hand side of the road in a vehicle that is right hand drive needs some getting use to. But, we made it and we didn’t have to mail our rental car back in pieces LOL. Honestly, if we were to do it again, we would take a train from London to Newbury and use taxis. Much easier, less stressful and would have cost about the same.
We stayed at The Yew Tree Inn, a old pub that is about a 10 minute drive to Highclere Castle. The Yew Tree is a quaint and cozy old establishment with a great reputation that didn’t disappoint. Included in our room rate was a full breakfast. If you are looking for a English pub experience in the country this is a charming place.
Highclere Castle is about 1 hour and 30 minutes outside of London, with Newbury being the closest town; about 20 minutes away. Now, since we knew the event at Highclere Castle was to be a champagne reception we wanted to take full advantage 😉 So, we arranged for a taxi.
Given The Yew Tree was in the country, the taxi had to be dispatched from Newbury. We arranged our transport through Cabco. They were friendly and very helpful and provided a firm, round trip price of 44 pounds. We were able to arrange specific times for pick up at The Yew Tree Inn and Highclere. Both times, our car was early, the vehicles were clean and the drivers were friendly.
Now, because we ended up booking our Cabco taxi with less than 24 hours notice, we had to call them. But, with advanced notice, a taxi could be booked on-line.
Needless today, this was such an amazing addition to our trip to London. Major points to Greg for being so resourceful and for seizing the opportunity to make memories that will last our lifetime!