The first written records of the estate date back to 749 when an Anglo-Saxon King granted the estate to the Bishops of Winchester. Bishop William of Wykeham built a beautiful medieval palace and gardens in the park. Later on, the palace was rebuilt as Highclere Place House in 1679 when it was purchased by Sir Robert Sawyer, the direct ancestor of the current Earl of Carnarvon. In 1842, Sir Charles Barry, who also designed the Houses of Parliament, transformed Highclere House into the present day Highclere Castle.
During the First World War, Highclere Castle was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers run by the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Throughout the Second World War, Highclere Castle was home to children evacuated from London.
There are between 250 and 300 rooms in the Castle and during your tour you will explore the main state rooms so familiar from “Downton Abbey”. You will see some of the bedrooms after which you will follow the stairs down to the cellars and old staff quarters where you will find the Egyptian Exhibition, celebrating the 5th Earl of Carnarvon’s discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
How to find Highclere Castle
Highclere Castle is approximately 14 miles from the centre of Hungerford. It takes around 0 minutes to travel there by car.
Head towards Newbury on the A4 and turn South onto the A34 following signs to Winchester and Southampton. Follow the A34 for 5 miles and take the exit onto the A4640 towards Newton and Burghclere.
Pass the Carnarvon Arms Hotel and the entrance to Highclere is on your right hand side.
Or use the map on the right hand side to get directions on your phone.
Planning your visit to Highclere
Highclere offers different tours throughout the year, which reflect the seasons, the history and of course Downton Abbey. Please do click here to browse the various admission tickets. Most of our tours require you to pre book, so please do check before travelling!
What’s on at Highclere
Highclere Castle has a busy event schedule and is packed with things to do throughout the year. Whether you are a Downton Abbey fan or want to visit the house and gardens, there is something for you to enjoy. As well as a visit you can also take home Highclere Gin or even horse feed.