A Look Inside Highclere Castle: The Real Downton Abbey

For more photos and videos from the Castle and grounds, explore the Highclere Castle location page.

112km (70mi) east of London lies Highclere Castle, the Victorian palace that serves as the inspiration and setting for the award-winning British television show Downton Abbey. Long before Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith graced its halls, however, the Castle held deep acclaim of its own.

Seated atop the manicured 1,000 acres that comprise Highclere Park, the Castle stands upon the foundations of an 8th-century medieval palace. From 1679 forward, Highclere has served as home to the Carnarvon family—even unto the present eighth Earl of Carnarvon, George Herbert.

The Castle as it is known today was built in the mid 1800s for the third Earl of Carnarvon by architect Sir Charles Barry, who just years earlier had finished construction on London’s Houses of Parliament and their famed clock tower, Big Ben.

Nowadays, the castle sees more visitors than ever due to Downton Abbey's worldwide popularity. Increased ticket sales are helping to restore long-forgotten rooms as visitors explore the castle's ground floor and surrounding park in summer months.