Downton Abbey castle opens its doors for summer tours

Downton Abbey castle opens its doors for summer toursPA

If you're feeling a post-Diamond Jubilee lull, don't panic: you can celebrate all things regal with a tour of the wonderful castle where hit show Downton Abbey is filmed.

Yep, anyone suffering from withdrawal symptoms for the programme can visit the stunning Highclere Castle, where all the action is based.

Designed by architect Sir Charles Barry, Highclere Castle is home to aristocrats Lady Fiona and Lord Geordie Carnarvon, whose family have been there since 1679, according to

You can take a peek at the library, music room, drawing room, smoking room, bedrooms, and the saloon, all of which are filled with wonderful art and antiquities.

The fifth earl of Carnarvon helped to discover Tutankhamun's tombs, and spent 16 years working in Egypt. Today, there is an Egyptian Exhibition Room in the castle's basement.

The enormous portrait of a man on a horse that you often see behind Hugh Bonneville's head int he dining room on Downton Abbey is a 1635 portrait of King Charles I by Anthony van Dyck.

Lady Carnarvon told the LA Times: "That painting is particularly fine, but there are three Van Dycks in the dining room.

"There are 15th century Italian embroideries in the Music Room, and 18th century silk bed hangings, and 400 years worth of European and English paintings and furniture throughout the castle. Not to mention those 5,000-year-old antiquities from Egypt."

Even Lady Carnarvon herself doesn't know exactly how many rooms the castle holds, adding: "There are probably 200 or 300 rooms, and 50 to 80 bedrooms.

"Today we tend to use 14 or 15 bedrooms, and some of the other rooms are used for archives and storage. It's just on a different scale. We don't need a Robing Room anymore, but there's nothing wrong with it. We've just left it as is. Some rooms are interesting as relics of the past."

The tour runs from Sunday to Thursday from 1 July, and tickets cost £9 for children and £16 for adults.

Fancy being king or queen of your own castle? Discover these top 10 castles available for holiday hire across Britain:

Ten of the best: Private castles to rent in the UK
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Downton Abbey castle opens its doors for summer tours

Standing in 1,500 acres of coastal and woodland estate, this 18th century castle is set close to the shores of Loche Fyne. The area is famed for its mountain scenery and coastal landscapes. Traditionally decorated, with wooden panelling, a large country style kitchen, drawing room, grand piano, open fire and more. Baronial Castle has seven bedrooms, sleeps 15, and starts from £2,250 per night.

This grade II listed 21 bedroom masterpiece overlooks the Menai Strait. Built in the style of a Loire Valley French Chateau, it offers charisma, exceptional views and luxury facilities. Plas Rhianfa costs £6,500 per week based on 32 guests sharing. Alternatively, book it by the night: during June and July there is a 50 per cent discount, meaning prices start at £135. 

This grade II listed property features bedrooms in the outlying seven turrets and offers views over wooded North Somerset countryside on one side and across the Bristol Channel to Wales on the other. The 17th Century castle has eight bedrooms, sleeps 16, and prices from £6,695 per week.

The ancient village in which the castle is situated is on the south side of the River Inny as it enters Lough Sheelin. Its origins go back to the early iron age - the tower was completed by him in 1537. The great hall and further extensions were finished by his grandson, the 13th Baron of Delvin in 1539. County Meath Castle has six bedrooms, sleeps 12, and starts from £3,884 per week.

Originally built in 1560 and subsequently partially destroyed in 1640 by the Duke of Argyll, the Fortalice has been rebuilt and renovated to ensure modern comforts while maintaining the original character. The Fortalice has six bedrooms, sleeps 12 and starts from £4,377 per week.

At the Pitfour Castle apartment you'll find a roaring log fire, a huge south facing drawing room with views towards the River Tay, and a circular bedroom with a king size four poster bed. Pitfour Castle has one bedroom (apartment inside the castle) which sleeps two, and starts from £300 a week.

In the heart of the highlands, this 15th century castle can be rented by the room or in its entirety. Low profile and totally private, it's an ideal choice for a big celebration. From the moment the piper welcomes you til the moment you're waved off by the entire staff, Ackergill Tower promises to exceed your expectations. Prices start at £4,000 per night for exclusive use, based on up to 32 guests. Alternatively, book a tower room for £250 per night half board. 

Situated in a beautiful spot in the west of Ireland, this 17th Century Irish castle boasts original features including a gothic fireplace. Smith's Castle has four bedrooms, sleeps eight, and starts from £989 per week.

Formerly the Gamekeeper’s house at Leeds Castle, Keeper's House is located in a secluded position within the castle grounds overlooking the weir pond. The house has been newly refurbished with antiques and modern furnishings and many original features remain. Keeper's House has five bedrooms, sleeps 10, and starts from £1,020 per week.

Located within extensive private landscaped grounds, this restored Norman Castle offers ensuite bedrooms with panoramic views over the sea, mountains and Pembrokeshire Coast National Park. Roch Castle has six bedrooms, sleeps 12, and starts from £2,800 per week.

This unusual historic sea fortress in the Solent has just been transformed into an amazing exclusive hotel. With nine luxurious bedrooms, three bars and restaurant areas and a spa thrown in for good measure, this is a unique place to rent out for a special occasion. There's an introductory offer of £5,200 per night for exclusive use (it sleeps 16). This includes private boat transfers, lunch, afternoon tea and dinner, breakfast, Champagne, and unlimited use of the rooftop hot pool sauna, fire pit and games room. You can also book it by the room from £850 per night, based on two sharing. Visit for more details.


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