Sunday, June 19, 2016

Highclere Castle Is The Real Star Of This Garden, And 'Downton Abbey'

           A highlight of a recent trip to England was a visit to Highclere Castle--that is, of Downton Abbey television fame, which has also been the highlight of many Sunday nights in homes across the UK and the US for the past six years. At the final episode of the series earlier this year, I was sad to say goodbye to the story, the people, the music and, to this castle. 

So, when my sister, my husband and I flew to London from the States, after a somewhat unnerving drive with a steering wheel on the 'wrong' side of the car, on the 'wrong' side of a narrow road and after way too many roundabouts,

 I gasped when I caught a sudden glimpse the castle top 
that loomed seemingly out of nowhere. 

Months earlier, I booked the special tickets for a garden tour featuring a lecture about 
the landscape architect who designed this property of 1,000 acres.  

Of course, a tour of the castle was included, as well as an informal lunch 
(alas, sans Carson, the butler). A surprise to us, the lecture was presented by none other than the mistress of the house, Lady Carnavon, inside the beautiful courtyard-style castle lobby that we admired countless times while watching the show; and, where the Downton Abbey family hosted several parties.

Lady Fiona Carnavon, an author of several books about the castle, is the 8th Countess,
and her husband, George Herbert, is the 8th Earl of Carnavon.
Highclere Castle, in Hampshire, is the family seat.

From majestic and statuesque trees

to the idyllic countryside setting where 3,000 sheep graze, the landscape is beautiful. Hearing the sheep bleating and 'baa-baaing' constantly is an unexpected, and fond memory of my visit.  In fact, Lady Carnavon told us, the sheep mow the grass on the property, while the two-and-a- half gardeners work on other maintenance.

Lancelot "Capability" Brown designed this and 170 other English Estates, 
to appear less like formal gardens 

and more like nature itself.  
He earned his nickname apparently by advising clients that their property 
had the capability for improvement.

The majority of the property is open space surrounded by trees,

which is not to say there are no garden rooms on the landscape.

There is a greenhouse, lovely garden beds

and borders being cultivated

behind old stone walls with arched gateways, or formally manicured evergreen yews.

But it is clear (modern day selfies aside), that the star of this show--and this garden--
has always been the Castle.

Copyright 2016. All rights reserved.


  1. GREAT - I would have loved being along in theater. Everyone I know watched Downton Abbey. Thanks soooooooooo much for the posting! Jack

  2. This is a great post. I've always wondered what the garden there is like--never enough shots of it in the show. By your photos, obviously it is pretty good.


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