The small town of Newbury, England, has become well-known because of its proximity (5 mi/8 km) to Highclere Castle, the setting for the wildly popular British television drama Downton Abbey.
The town is 50 mi/80 km from London and is accessible by train from London to Newbury Railway Station or by car or coach bus. It is possible to hire a taxi in Newbury for the final leg of the journey to Highclere or simply follow the brown signs from the A34 if you're driving yourself.
Highclere Castle, which stands on 5,000 acres/2,025 hectares, was built in the mid-1800s by Sir Charles Barry to be the country home of the Earl of Carnarvon. The castle has remained in the family, and the eighth Earl of Carnavon, George Herbert, and his family currently reside in Highclere. During the winter months, the family lives in the castle but they move to a modest cottage on the grounds during the summer when the house is open to visitors. The mansion had fallen into a state of disrepair as of the late-2000s but following the popularity of the show, and the subsequent influx of visitors, the family has been able to make major renovations.
The castle is generally open to the public during the Easter holidays, some bank holidays and for most of the summer months. Tours take visitors through the staterooms, as well as through some bedrooms, the gallery and the saloon. The Egyptian Exhibition in the basement of the castle is worth visiting if you have the time.
Because of the popularity of the tour, it is essential to secure tickets before your visit. For ticket information, phone 016-3525-3210 or visit http://www.highclerecastle.co.uk.
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