Tour Highclere Castle

Go inside the lavish rooms of Highclere Castle, the setting for Downton Abbey and current home to the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon.
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Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Matthew Lloyd/Getty Images

Photo By: Allan Baxter/Getty Images

A view of the saloon -- a room for socializing, set in the center of the house -- in Highclere Castle in Newbury, England. The ancestral home of the Carnarvon family since 1679, the castle has recently been made famous as the setting for the hugely popular TV series, "Downton Abbey."

This entrance hall leads into the saloon, which is decorated in a gothic style with ornate decoration, including leather wall coverings.

A view of the music room in Highclere Castle. Sitting on 1,000 acres of beautifully landscaped land and gardens, the castle is open in the summer months to visitors.

The ceiling of the music room, seen here reflected in the mirror, was painted in the 1730s by English painter and one of the founding members of the Royal Academy of Arts, Francis Hayman.

Italian 16th-century tapestries hang in Highclere’s music room.

This photo of Almina Wombwell sits in the drawing room, which is decorated with bolts of green French silk given to Almina by her banking tycoon father, Alfred de Rothschild. She became the lady of Highclere Castle when she married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon in 1895.

The Earl's desk is displayed in the castle’s library. An active Tory in Parliament, the 4th Earl of Carnarvon would retreat here in what has been nicknamed the “withdrawing room.” In "Downton Abbey," Lord Grantham can often be found in this room, mulling over papers and fretting about the future of the estate.

This hidden door leads from the library to the music room.

There are over 5,600 books stored in Highclere’s library, with the earliest dating back to the 16th century.

These bells were used to summon the servants, with each bell corresponding to a different room in the castle.

The Oak Staircase was designed by English architect and artist, Thomas Allom, who is also known for his work with Sir Charles Barry in designing the Houses of Parliament. The staircase took a year to carve and install. "Downton Abbey" fans will fondly recall Lady Mary descending this staircase in her wedding dress, on her way to exchange vows with Matthew Crawley.

Found in the castle’s dining room are a series of portraits, including, most notably, the equestrian portrait of Charles I by Sir Anthony van Dyck, a Flemish artist who became England’s leading court painter.

The Red Staircase, leading to the second floor and what was once the nurseries, is the other main staircase in Highclere Castle that is used by the family.

On the first floor alone, there are 11 bedrooms and between 40 and 50 throughout the rest of the castle. The Mercia bedroom, seen here, is decorated with 18th-century silks. "Downton Abbey" fans may recognize the bedroom as belonging to Cora, the Countess of Grantham (although the Earl of Grantham is known to sneak in after the ladies’ maids and butlers have gone to bed).

Highclere Castle was remodeled for the 3rd Earl in 1839 by Sir Charles Barry after he finished the Houses of Parliament. Barry described the castle’s architecture as Anglo-Italian.