Highclere Castle Review
Set in 1,000 acres of parkland designed by Capability Brown, the historic home of the actual Earls of Carnarvon—as opposed to the imaginary Earls of Grantham of period television drama Downton Abbey, which is shot here—owes its appearance to Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament. Commissioned by the third Earl to transform a simpler Georgian mansion, Barry used golden Bath stone to create this fantasy castle bristling with "Gothic" turrets. Like its fictional counterpart, it served as a hospital during World War I. Highlights of the State Rooms include Van Dyke's equestrian portrait of Charles I in the Dining Room and the imposing library (Lord Grantham's retreat). There's also an exhibit of Egyptian antiquities collected by the 5th Earl, known for his pivotal role in the 1920s excavation of ancient Egyptian tombs, notably Tutankhamen's. Get good views of the house and countryside by walking the gardens and grounds. The house is 25 miles north of Winchester and 5 miles south of Newbury; there's train service from London and Winchester to Newbury, and taxis can take you the 5 miles to Highclere.
- Address: Off A34, Highclere Park, Newbury, RG20 9RN
- Phone: 01635/253204
- Cost: £20 castle, exhibition, and gardens; £13 castle and gardens or exhibition; £5 gardens only
- Hours: Mid-July–mid-Sept., castle Sun.–Thurs. 10:30–5, gardens 10:30–6; last admission at 4. Also selected days Apr.–May
- Website: www.highclerecastle.co.uk
- Location: Winchester