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“Lovely Chance to Visit at End of Season”
Review of Highclere Castle

Highclere Castle
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Downton Abbey and Village Tour from London
Ranked #2 of 38 things to do in Newbury
Certificate of Excellence
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Attraction details
Owner description: Designed by Sir Charles Barry, architect of the Houses of Parliament, this is considered to be one of the finest Victorian homes still in existence, which houses fine furniture and works of art.
Reviewed 11 September 2012

Had wanted to visit for ages, having watched the programmes, and did a spontaneous Birthday treat outing for my mother.

We had a thoroughly enjoyable time. We ate lunch first, because the lady on the phone had told us about morning and afternoon sessions (we didn't pre-book) - but actually this wasn't necessary. The cafe served a passable chicken, new potatoes and fresh mixed veg for £6, and a large pot of very good tea for two at £3.

We decided not to do the Egyptian tour, as my son has seen it all first-hand, and it kept the costs down. It's a very warm house, and the room guides were helpful and knowledgeable. I did ask where the Chapel was, and one younger staff member said it didn't exist anymore, and the village Church is what's used. In fact that's not correct, as we found the Chapel and Cemetry on the way out (on the road that goes beyond the exit road), so that was a little confusing.

I hadn't made the Lord Carnavon/Highclere/Howard Carter connection before, so that was interesting from a historical perspective. I agree with another reviewer, who said it was interesting to learn that the House was used as a hospital in the Great War by Lady Almina. Julian Fellowes was a friend of the family, so probably that's where the storyline came in.

As my mother isn't quite so mobile, we didn't walk round much of the grounds, but got to the Monks' Garden. I imagine the roses in the season would be rather lovely.

1  Thank ShellyRM
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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"egyptian exhibition"
in 434 reviews
"downton fan"
in 117 reviews
"gift shop"
in 273 reviews
"the secret garden"
in 79 reviews
"tv series"
in 111 reviews
"howard carter"
in 63 reviews
"lord carnarvon"
in 49 reviews
"no photography"
in 45 reviews
"downton connection"
in 34 reviews
"carnarvon family"
in 45 reviews
"family home"
in 72 reviews
"lady carnarvon"
in 39 reviews
"coach house"
in 40 reviews
"family photos"
in 37 reviews
"battle proms"
in 24 reviews
"grounds are beautiful"
in 50 reviews
"king tut"
in 24 reviews

2,193 - 2,197 of 2,544 reviews

Reviewed 11 September 2012

We visited here last week. The Egyptian Exhibition, for those interested, was good, well laid out and very informative. The grounds are lovely with informal beds, peaceful woodland areas, a wonderful wild flower meadow, all set in rolling, open countryside - it was a beautiful day so ideal for wandering round outside. Had our lunch near the specific picnic area (which is spacious, laid out with benches not too close together, with plenty of room for children to enjoy running around without bothering other visitors) and enjoyed the sunshine. There are a couple of cafes for those who prefer not to eat alfresco.
However, we were not at all impressed with the "castle" itself. It is a huge place with lots of rooms open to the public and could be quite impressive. The problems were: firstly, far too many visitors are allowed in together - because of the way things are cordoned off, there is just not the room for crowds of people. We very quickly felt the need to leave as it was getting rather claustrophobic but there was no space for anyone to make a quick exit. Goodness knows what happens if someone is taken ill as there is just no room for manoevre. The second criticism is that there is no information at all as to what the rooms were, or items of interest to particularly look out for. There were loads of family photos dotted around but no indication as to who people were. There were guides standing in each room (downstairs only) but written information displayed is so much better (guides can only answer the questions of one person at a time which holds people up even more). The only factor highlighted was the Downton one and there was also a small exhibition about the house, in the past, being used as a hospital - this was interesting, with plenty of information. We felt the whole thing could have been so much better; after all, there must be more history to this house than just a TV programme. As it was, we monotonously wandered from room to room, not really absorbing anything, just waiting to get out at the other end. If we ever go back to Highclere, we will definitely give the house a miss - unless something is done to address the shortfalls.

4  Thank Rosyapple1
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 11 September 2012

I confess to only visiting the house due to its Downton connections - so my review is for other Downton fans! I have visited many houses/castles/palaces etc up and down the country so do have some experience of visiting this kind of property. Disappointingly very little about Downton in the house or the gardens - absolutely nothing in the shop either - cant help but feel they have really missed an opportunity here. (whilst mentioning the shop - they had sold out of guide books...fridge magnets....everything we asked for...) No photography allowed in the house - I know some places do this and it always puzzles me. It was busy to the extreme and it is a shuffling sort of visit. It takes a while to view and there are no seats dotted about - could be a problem for some. Only some rooms are open to view so you wont see all the Downton rooms. The gardens are very basic for a "stately home" kind of place but good for a picnic. The Egypt connection is the main theme but very claustrophobic and warm in the basement - I would say if you like Egypt then go and see the originals free at the museum. Sorry - but I can say I have been and seen but I came away feeling a little let down without Downton (did you see what I did there?!) and couldn't recommend it.

2  Thank Jaqarm
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 10 September 2012

A wonderful stop. Great to see the home of Downton Abbey and to learn that Highclere was actually used as a hospital during the 1st World War as was depicted in the TV Show. Lots of people... probably 99% DA Fans awaiting the start of Season 3 next week!

Thank Murray A
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 10 September 2012

A little expensive if you choose to do all three (gardens, castle and Egyptology exhibition) but a must if you've not been to Egypt and seen the mummified Tutankhamum (remember of course, this is only a replica). A pity there is a shortage of toilets (only 3), and as always there seemed to be a queue for these. All in all a lovely day out.

1  Thank lim93
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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