Fun Facts About the Real Downton Abbey
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1. It's 175 Years Old
Highclere Castle, the Victorian-era English manor where the PBS series Downton Abbey is shot, is an actual working estate in the Hampshire countryside.
2. The Driveway is a Mile Long
Talk about making an entrance!
3. It's Had Famous Visitors
Past houseguests have included actor Omar Sharif, film director Stanley Kubrick and numerous members of England's royal family.
4. Yes, There Is a Staff
Highclere Castle is currently maintained by a staff of 70. This is Colin Edwards, the castle's present butler.
5. The Current Owners Are Aristocrats
No, they're not the Lord and Lady Grantham, but the owners do have titles: George Herbert is the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, and his wife, Lady Fiona, pictured here, is the Countess of Carnarvon. (Lady Almina, an English heiress and a former Countess of Carnarvon, served in part as the basis for Downton Abbey's Lady Cora. In fact, Lady Fiona is a historian and has written a biography of her predecessor.)
6. The Real-Life Furnishings Often Appear on Screen
You may recognize this room as Lord Grantham's study, but it's the castle's real library. Since Highclere's interiors are so well-suited to the show's needs, many scenes are filmed in the castle's rooms with the actual furnishings in place. George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon, is shown here amongst the 5,650 books.
The estate is valued today at more than $240,000,000.
8. It's HUGE
How huge? We're talking about 30,000 square feet of living space.
9. There Are 50-80 Bedrooms
Many of the rooms were originally used as servant's quarters, most of which are no longer used, so it's now uncertain just how many actually were bedrooms.
10. There's an Egyptian Exhibition Inside
This likeness of Egyptian boy king Tutankhamun is on display in Highclere Castle. Why, you ask? Well, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon was also a renowned explorer who discovered the 3200-year-old tomb of King Tut along with fellow explorer Howard Carter in 1922.
11. The Grounds Are 6,000 Acres
Highclere is set among farmland with beautifully manicured gardens (including decorative architectural features, like Heaven's Gate, shown here) and numerous walking trails.
12. You Can Rent It for Events!
Wanna have a wedding or a corporate event at Highclere? The site fee for the rental is around $23,000 and helps finance upkeep on the home and grounds. But you can't put a price on getting to play Lady Mary for a day, can you?