Highclere Castle 'Downton Abbey'

Highclere Castle is home to the 8th Earl and Countess of Carnarvon and has been the family residence since 1679. The house which stands today is built on the site of and earlier house which was mentioned in the Doomsday Book of 1086. The present house was built by Sir Charles Barry, when the 3rd Earl Carnarvon commissioned him to transform his home into a grand mansion to 'impress the world'. The construction of the house was compleated in 1878.

During the two World Wars, Highclere Castle played two very different roles. During World War I, Almina, 5th Countess of Carnarvon transformed the Castle into the Highclere Home Hospital to care for wounded soldiers and personally oversaw that they received the highest standard of care. During the Second World War, the Castle was transformed into a home for evacuee children from the inner cities to escape the Blitz.

Today, Highclere Castle welcomes a number of visitors who are interested in visiting the castle itself, the 1000 acres of parkland (which were designed by Capability Brown), the extensive gardens, the Egyptology Exhibition.

Highclere Castle is home to the Egyptology Exhibition, as the 5th Earl of Carnarvon worked on the 1922 discovery of the tomb of  Pharaoh Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings, with Howard Carter in Egypt. The men worked together for 16 years and planned their Egyptian excavations from Highclere. The exhibition was opened to celebrate the many discoveries of Lord Carnarvon and Carter, and some objects are up to 5000 years old! Among the artefacts on display is the amazing golden death mask of Tutankhamun - a definate must see!

Many people will recognise the amazing Highclere Castle from the ITV1 period drama, Downton Abbey. The production is filmed on location at the castle and features fantastic performances from stars including, Dame Maggie Smith and Hugh Bonneville. The show follows the life of the Crawley Family and their servants in 1916, after the effects of World War I. 

To find out more information visit the Highclere Castle, home of the Downton Abbey TV series, official website.

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