Highclere Castle | Downton Abbey Meets Ancient Egypt

Highclere Castle is home to Crawleys on Downton Abbey & the Earls of Canarvon (one of whom funded finding Tutankhamun’s tomb) in real life. Here’s our guide.


Highclere Castle is more of a stately home than many castles on this site.

However it is still very special and world famous now as the home of Crawley family in the popular Downton Abbey TV program. And with about 250 to 300 rooms, the castle gives a big-time Downtown Abbey vibe.

Highclere Castle

Read on as we look at some of the key aspects of this castle, its history, and how you can see the castle today…


Where Is Highclere Castle?

Highclere Castle is in Hampshire, England, which is about 5 miles south of Newbury, Berkshire. It is also 9.5 miles north of Andover, Hampshire.


When Was It Built And By Who?

Around the 8th century, Bishop William of Wykeham created a beautiful medieval place and gardens in the park. This place became Highclere Castle.

Sir Robert Sawyer, the direct ancestor of the present Earl of Carnarvon, bought this palace later on. After the purchase, the castle was rebuilt into the Highclere Place House in the year 1679.


What Is The History Of The Castle?

The first evidence of this castle is in the 8th century with the grant of land to Bishop William.

Towards the 12th and 13th centuries, a Tudor House succeeded the castle. All this took place until the day the entire castle was renovated in the 17th century under the aegis of Robert Sawyer.

Sir Charles Barry FRS RA, the English architect, involved with rebuilding the Palace of Westminister in London, was called for the entire renovation.

Sir Charles Barry’s design was classic Georgian style and went well with the pleasant pastoral landscape. Sawyer’s descendants, the Earls of Canarvon, still live in the castle right now.

During the First World War, Highclere Castle was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers run by the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Throughout the Second World War, Highclere Castle was home to children evacuated from London.


Tutankhamun & Highclere

There’s also a surprising link with Highclere and Ancient Egypt.

The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was the key funder of Howard Carter’s 1922 expedition to Egypt which found the hidden tomb of Tutankhamun.

His untimely death soon after is the main source of the myth of curse of Tutankhamun – said to afflict those who opened the tomb.

(Rather more prosaically he actually died from blood poisoning after a mosquito bite got infected).

Highclere has an extensive Egyptian Exhibition resulting from the various expeditions led by the Earl.


How To See The Castle Today?

The good news is that you can visit Highclere Castle now. If you’re planning to visit the castle in the coming months, we have got some tips handy for you.

Highclere Castle allows visitors to enjoy the magic of the movies and indulge in the Highclere Castle Festival in October. You can also go for the carols in the month of December.

As far as the bookings are concerned, you must book for a visit well in advance.

You can check out the ticket page on the official site of Highclere Castle here for further details.

Admission Prices

Admission prices are below:

Highclere admission fees

Cheaper prices are available if you with only to see the Castle and grounds.

Castle Opening Times

Here are the castle’s opening times in summer and spring. It is closed in winter.

Highclere castle  opening times

Conclusion

Highclere Castle is a great place to visit if you love gorgeous stately homes.

But it’s also great for those who love the Downton Abbey show and, especially those with an interest in ancient Egypt.

It’s also close enough to London for it to be a day trip from the UK capital.