A New England Yankee At Downton Abbey

Or Highclere Castle, as it's actually called in real life, but real life is so overrated. And you can't help but have the theme song playing in your head or humming on your lips as you walk up the grand path, which leads to the abbey...er, castle. The whole atmosphere lends more to the surreal rather than to reality. I half expected Lord Grantham and his labrador to join me as we strolled the grounds, and the grounds are as immaculate as they appear on the screen.

What is a Yankee, if not an enthusiastic, endearing rule breaker? At least that's what I told myself as we ran giddy about the castle, while covertly taking forbidden photos of the interiors. Yes, No Photos Allowed signs were posted inside, but we took on the spirit of Cora's mother, Martha, who characterized all of those Yankee stereotypical qualities of being brash, rebellious, and loud. Well, not the loud bit, as we didn't want to be caught. But, as it turns out, I'm not very good at being the stereotypical American, since I've always been a bit of the toe the line, rule-follower (for the little things, anyway), and was a nervous wreck while doing something as simple, and only slightly rebellious, as taking secret iPhone photos.

Yeah, that would be my nervous, naughty smile, but regardless, there I am by the grand staircase!  And bless Emily, she took my photo going down the grand staircase!

All of those gorgeous interiors of the upstairs world on Downton Abbey were not shot on a set in some London studio. No, they were actually shot inside of Highclere Castle, and it was strange to recognize so much of the place from the small screen adventures of Mary, Sybil, and the rest of that lot. We saw the room in which that unfortunate Turkish fellow lost his life due to Mary's, um, skills or lack thereof in the bedroom. We saw the room in which Sybil took her last breath. We saw the bed in which Cora thrashed about, nearly succumbing to the Spanish flu. We also saw Lord Grantham's study, the parlors, the grand hall, where the Christmas tree stands so majestically on Downton, the dining room (much smaller looking in real life), and so much more. I only wish we had been taken downstairs to tour the servants quarters, but, alas, those servants quarters don't actually exist anymore at Highclere.  All of that downstairs stuff on Downton is filmed on set at a studio some sixty miles away.

Being inside of Highclere was jaw-dropping, but walking the grounds was amazing too. We even sat down to scones with clotted cream and jam in the garden.

The side of Highclere.  This is the drive way in the show, where people drive up and are greeted at that door.

And here is the door, where you see servants and the family alike, lining up to greet guests or to see them off.

This photo was shot and edited by Emily of us outside of Downton Abbey.  I love this lady!

Our visit was glorious, and due to that I've decided to forgive Julian Fellowes, for the time being, for such a lame ending to last season.  Let's hope he redeems it all in the next season, and if not, at least we get to see behind the walls of Highclere again.


  1. I've never watched Downton Abbey (although I feel like I know plenty about it through media:)), but your pictures are gorgeous! What a beautiful place.

  2. That's so funny, I love that other lady in the picture! What a fun day! How many treasures do we have hidden away in our hearts from that epic trip? Tons!! Love your sneaky friend xoxo

  3. soooo pretty! you lucky girls! What an amazing trip you two had, glad you got to get some sneaky pics ;)

  4. SO SO gorgeous! You ladies got some pretty good covert photos!! Mine would be all blurry haha! Glad you enjoyed the experience :)

  5. Thanks for the tour! I hadn't realized the interiors were shot on location too - the setting and cinematography were my favorite parts of Downton.

  6. The best part is how much fun you had together!

  7. This post is pure awesomeness. You are so lucky you got to go there. I want to go to Highclere so much! And yes, let's hope Julian Fellowes does redeem himself in Season Four from last season's awful ending!

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