Highclere Castle, Berkshire

Highclere Castle, Newbury

Highclere Castle is an iconic example of Victorian architectural grandeur. Designed by Sir Charles Barry, the architect renowned for his work on the Houses of Parliament, the castle is built in the Jacobethan style and has been the family seat of the Earls of Carnarvon since the late 17th century.

The castle’s exterior, with its stately towers and sweeping facade, is instantly recognizable as the setting for the popular television series “Downton Abbey.”

This connection has brought Highclere international fame, attracting visitors eager to walk through the corridors and rooms that framed the drama of the Crawley family.

Architectural and Historical Significance

Highclere Castle’s architecture is not only visually striking but also historically significant. The current building stands on the site of an earlier house that dates back to the 8th century.

The transformation into the present castle began in 1842, when Sir Charles Barry was commissioned to redesign it, integrating the classical elements that are so admired today.

The interior of Highclere is equally impressive, featuring the main hall, library, and several opulent state rooms.

These areas are adorned with historically significant artworks, including 17th-century Italian paintings and portraits by Sir Joshua Reynolds and Anthony Van Dyck, reflecting the Carnarvon family’s long-standing patronage of the arts.

The Carnarvon Family and Egyptian Exhibition

Highclere Castle is also known for its intriguing connection to one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of the 20th century: the tomb of Tutankhamun. The 5th Earl of Carnarvon, along with archaeologist Howard Carter, famously uncovered the tomb in 1922.

Today, the castle houses an Egyptian Exhibition in the cellars, featuring replicas and original items related to the discovery, which provides a detailed glimpse into this fascinating period of Egyptology.

Gardens and Grounds

The estate spans approximately 1,000 acres of rolling parkland, designed by the renowned landscape architect Capability Brown.

The gardens are a key attraction, with meticulously maintained lawns, flowerbeds, and a variety of woodland walks. The beauty of the grounds is complemented by the seasonal blooms and the serene backdrop of the English countryside.

Events and Accessibility

Highclere Castle hosts a range of events throughout the year, from classical music concerts and vintage garden parties to Christmas fairs and lectures on Egyptian history. These events offer visitors unique opportunities to experience the castle’s hospitality and learn more about its rich history.

The castle’s commitment to accessibility ensures that a wide audience can enjoy all that Highclere has to offer. Visitor facilities include guided tours, a tea room, and a gift shop, all designed to enhance the experience of the estate.

Highclere Castle offers more than just a glimpse into the architectural and aristocratic traditions of England; it is a portal to the past, showcasing centuries of history, art, and culture.

For those fascinated by British history, architecture, or the allure of “Downton Abbey,” Highclere Castle provides a deeply enriching experience, steeped in the legacy of the Carnarvon family and the timeless charm of the Berkshire countryside.

Address – Highclere Park, Highclere, Newbury, RG20 9RN
Telephone – 01635 253 210

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