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.
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