Downton Abbey is by far one of my favourite TV Series, and today I’m finally spilling the deets on visiting the filming location, the marvellous: Highclere Castle.
For all of those unfamiliar with the series, Downton Abbey is an English period drama about the lives of the aristocratic Crawley family and their domestic servants. It’s set between 1912 and 1925, featuring along how important world events such as the sinking of the Titanic, the outbreak of World War 1, and the Spanish influenza pandemic—amongst others—affected their lives and their luxurious and unique lifestyle.
So, after watching all seasons available up to last summer, I found myself dying to visit the real Downton Abbey, and booked myself along with my family, tickets to visit the grounds, and explore the castle along with their extensive and beautiful gardens. If you’re looking for information and details to visit Downton Abbey, keep reading!! I have a feeling you’ll love this.
My day started in London, where I woke up at the Crowne Plaza Kensington Hotel to my morning breakfast, giddy to head to the station where I’d meet the Brit Movie Tours team that would take us to our very much anticipated visit: Downton Abbey!
We waited no time and hopped on the private motor coach and drove straight to Bampton in Oxfordshire, which on the show is Downton Village. Green grass and grey skies for miles was our view as we drove along to the english countryside. Playing along was the Downton Abbey soundtrack, soothing as these all was on its own, tiny droplets of water began to cover the car windows; then we had the ideal english road trip experience.
ARRIVING AT BAMPTON VILLAGE
The Cotswolds village of Bampton is the real town featured in the series as Downton Village. I was surprised to learn the filming happens in a real town and not on a set. Apparently producers chose Bampton because its very well preserved and has the antique charm ideal for the series. Walking through its streets, umbrella in hand, felt like living inside the show which was just like a dream. Being there made me realise about every detail that has to be taken into consideration by producers when filming, such as removing modern street signs, cars, and everything else not fitting in the period apt for Downton Abbey. Nonetheless, the town maintains the overall image all on its own.
ST. MARY’S CHURCH IN BAMPTON
Recognise this? St. Mary’s Church is actually where Lady Mary gets married to Mathew in season 3 in one of the entire series’ most beloved scenes!
Another location you’ll recognise from the series is Crawley House! The property is found in Bampton Village as well, although its exterior it’s the only thing filmed, the interiors shown on TV were shot in Hall Place in Beaconsfield, Buckinghamshire.
…And after our marvellous visit to Bampton, we got on our motor coach once more and drove to Newbury, no stops along the way, straight to Highclere Castle!
As I walked into the estate I could imagine the Downton Abbey Suite from The Chamber Orchestra of London playing in my mind. Tiny droplets of water were falling from the sky, and I just couldn’t believe I was walking towards the view I’d only seen on TV until that day. That was my day to become a Lady, and experience life like an English Aristocrat.
DOWNTON ABBEY GARDENS
The gardens are a dream come true. When purchasing your admission ticket make sure to choose one that includes a visit to the spectacular gardens, you won’t regret this decision. At the end of this post I’ll share the links you need to book the best tour package for you.
But getting back to talking about the gardens, take a look at these! I’m pretty sure you’ll want to include the gardens in your tour. Just imagine walking around, taking photographs, smelling the roses (literally); a bit time spent in introspection in a marvellous place like this can surely spark your inspiration.
…and how about relaxing with this view? I couldn’t help myself and just had to take a photograph in this spot. I recognised this place to be where Lady Edith sits at the end of the episode where Patrick leaves; lovely scene, incredible location and composition.
Sadly enough, photography was prohibited inside the castle, so the views from the inside, I’ll leave to you! The library, the drawing room, the bedrooms, living room…they’re all incredibly worth the ticket fare. Now, where can you buy one, and when is the castle open for visitors? Read below:
Purchasing your ticket
There are several touristic companies that include specific tours already arranged with exclusive activities, such companies are: Brit Movie Tours, and The London Toolkit amongst others. You can also purchase your tickets directly at https://highclerecastleshop.co.uk (official Highclere Castle website.)
When I booked mine, I searched these three options, and found out that tickets directly on the official site were completely booked for summer with about 3 months in advance. So I began to search for companies that could have bought special entries for their groups, and found out about Brit Movie Tours and The London Toolkit. Both offer different tour packages worth checking out!
TIP- BUY IN ADVANCE, TICKETS SELL LIKE PANCAKES!
I must recommend you book and plan your trip to Downton Abbey in advance. High demand and specific visiting seasons result in tickets running fast. Highclere Castle is the home of Lord and Lady Carnarvon after all, so they close the castle for visitors during several months of the year, including those when filming takes place.
Anyhow, there are plenty of special activities you can book when busy season arrives like afternoon tea in the premises, drinks evening reception, or book yourself a ticket to wander around the castle halls, rooms, and gardens at your own pace. Make sure to check your options and plan in advance! Anticipation goes a long way when it comes to busy venues!
Are you a Downton Abbey fan or have been to Downton Abbey before?
Comment about your experience! I’d love to here about it!