We ended our adventure-filled Ocean Princess Cruise-Ship tour, which left from Dover, England, sailing around and stopping in Ireland and Scotland, then returning back to Dover, England.
It was bittersweet to leave the ship after such a fun week, but at the same time very thrilling to think about the next phase of our trip, which would be to sight-see in and around in London for a few days.
The Grosvenor House Marriott Hotel would be our home away from home while visiting in London.
Guests coming and going at the hotel were cheerfully greeted by the doorman with his high top hat,
looking very "British."
On our first day in London we were scheduled to tour Highclere Castle, which is one of England's most beautiful Victorian Castles set on 1,000 acres of very pretty rolling hills. The Castle was located about 70 miles to the west of London, about five miles south of the little town of Newberry.
Below is a photo of a pretty English country house on the way to Highclere Castle.
As you probably already know Highclere Castle is the setting for the filming of the
very successful Masterpiece series on PBS called Downton Abbey.
It was so exciting to be driving along the country roads of England knowing we would be soon arriving at the gates of Highclere Castle. The grounds of the estate were very beautiful as seen in the below photo.
There were several fields of sheep all within the grounds of Highclere Castle. We stopped the car and tried to get them to come over for a visit. They were so adorable with their big thick coats of fur and it would have been very nice to have them come closer, but they had different ideas.
We arrived at the parking lot which was full of cars and tour-buses.
It was very exciting to get our very first glimpse of Highclere Castle.
Yes! There it is!
The Castle is not open to the public everyday due to the on-going filming
of the Downton Abbey series.
Downton Abbey follows the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them. Some say it is a beautifully written, splendidly acted, marvelously filmed and thoroughly charming soap-opera set in Britain in the early 1900's.
There was some concern at the beginning of the series if there would be much interest in the series from the public ... They say now that over six million people have tuned into the Masterpiece PBS series and it has now made the Guinness Book of World Records for being the most critically acclaimed show ... ever!
The line is not long in this photo, but as we advanced through the Castle it was so crowded we were only able to inch along a little bit at a time. For awhile now they have been asking visitors to buy admission tickets in advance. There is a timed ticket system to avoid having too many people inside the Castle at one time.
Fortunately we got our tickets for August back in the Springtime, long before our trip. We were told the tickets had entirely sold out by June.
If you are not familiar with the series you might like to take a look at some of the filming of Downton Abbey as seen in the below link.
As with most historical buildings, we were asked not to take inside photos. Fortunately, I found these inside photos of Highclere Castle online.
Inside photos of Highclere Castle are from the Internet.
The Saloon is considered the heart of the house and was completed in the 1860's.
The Drawing Room
The Dining Room
We were able to tour the bedrooms which were used in the filming of Downton Abbey, but unfortunately I was not able to find good internet photos of those bedrooms to include here.
Janie, from Southern Lagniappe blogspot, and a visitor to Sweet Southern Days, left a "comment" asking if we had seen any of the cast members from the Downton Abbey series while visiting at Highclere Castle. No, I am sorry to say we did not, and I might add, there was no evidence at all that the series is being filmed there. The filming staff had been very good about putting anything to do with filming the series totally out of sight.
The below photo is from the Internet
In the below photo are three of the main characters in the Downton Abbey series.
According to a report I saw ... Before the end of the year, there will be a Downton Abbey clothing line available, as well as homeware and furniture, wallpapers, beauty products and stationary.
It might be nice to be able to find beautiful, feminine dresses like this ... I'm looking forward to seeing them! Also, love the hats.
The three girls in the above photo must have been standing right under this tree.
The Castle gardens are open to the public at the same time the Castle is open.
There is a wildflower garden, a secret garden and many footpaths in and around Highclere Castle.
Highclere Castle has been in the same family since 1679. Previous structures on this site had belonged to clergy and nobility since sometime in the 800s.
The fans of Downton Abbey will have to wait for the beginning of the show's fourth season, which will begin in England in September, but will not be shown until January 5th, 2014 in the States.
We also toured the quaint little town of Bampton, England which is the filming location for Downton Village in the Downton Abbey series. So come along with us next time as we show this charming little village, and see some of the familiar places seen in the series.
Thanks for coming along on the tour of Highclere Castle, and I wish you a very nice weekend wherever you may be.