Well, we turned up, ready to have afternoon tea with Lord Grantham and his wife and they weren’t even there! Okay, so Downton Abbey might just be a little bit fictional but we had a blast at Highclere Castle today where the highly acclaimed TV series was made.
Highclere Castle is in Hampshire, just a short drive from London, and is set in 5,000 acres. It’s currently inhabited by the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and his wife, and they open up their home in the summer for visitors with various events held. At the moment, they have an Egyptian exhibition with lots of things to look at but I have to admit that I was there because of having seen the TV programme. Now, we were late comers to Downton Abbey and I think 3 series had passed as I just thought it wasn’t really my kind of thing. However, after deciding to give the very first episode a try, hubby and I were quickly hooked and binge-watching episodes to catch up. We loved watching how the lives of the aristocracy and the servants intertwined. And, what’s brilliant is that Highclere fully acknowledges that it’s the programme that’s brought many visitors and there are large photos in the different rooms of scenes from the programme. I might have said at one point to hubby ‘Ah, ‘I’m standing in the same spot as Dame Maggie Smith’! Clearly, there were people there of different nationalities, especially Americans.
As well as the house itself, there are beautiful gardens including the ‘secret garden’ although clearly not too secret as it was signposted! The flowers were beautiful with lots of colour although I couldn’t even start to guess what they were!
And then it was time for afternoon tea which is a rather British tradition dating back to the 1840s. Whilst there were places for visitors to eat, we were directed to the upstairs of the Coach House in the courtyard where there must have been 10 tables. With just 3 sittings a day, I understand that afternoon tea at Highclere gets booked up very early on. I’d booked our tickets back in January. The tea was lovely although with 30 degree temperatures, champagne and water also went down very well! The sandwiches, naturally, had their crusts cut off and there 4 types: salmon, egg mayo, cucumber and coronation chicken. And then there were 3 types of cake: Victoria sponge, carrot and a passion fruit one. And there were scones with jam and cream. We just couldn’t finish it but we were blown away but the staff and their attentiveness. It felt really special and having been in the diary for quite some time, it completely exceed our expectations!. Just….wow! It really was a brillaitn thing to tick off my bucket list. You can read more about Highclere Castle here https://www.highclerecastle.co.uk/
So, a fabulous afternoon and it’s now 5 days until we’re going to the most fun sleepover for adults in London! Aaaaghggghhhh!!!