Are there any Downton Abbey fans out there reading this post?
I watched Downton Abbey a couple of years ago after my mom highly recommended watching the series. After the first episode, I was hooked and promptly binge watched all six seasons in 2.5 weeks. Mind you, each episode is around an hour long…how embarrassing!
Prior to coming to Harlaxton, I had “visit Downton Abbey” on my bucket list. However, I did not entirely think I would get to the famous estate purely because getting to Highclere Castle is REALLY expensive! The tickets themselves are very reasonable, but the taxi ride to and from the train station is 15 pounds on a weekday and 25 pounds on a Sunday/holiday. For me to go by myself, I couldn’t justify spending that kind of money. Factor in too that Highclere is only opened to the public at limited times during the year – the Earl and Lady of Carnarvon call Highclere Home – and I didn’t think a visit would happen. However, I discussed wanting to visit Highclere Castle with another student named Marissa during the Wales trip back in February. Before I knew it, Marissa had talked with Caroline, another Harlaxton student, and we promptly booked the trip. A few weeks ago, Marissa and I were discussing going to Highclere on Easter and another student, Elizabeth, asked to come along too. In total, four of us made the trip to Newbury on Easter Sunday.
On Sunday, Marissa, Caroline, and I hopped into our streetcar to head to the train station. Elizabeth accidentally overslept, so she arrived in a separate streetcar right as our train to London pulled into the Grantham train station. The poor girl was flustered, out of breath, and dehydrated, but everyone, SHE MADE IT!
Once we arrived to London, we took the tube to Paddington and then switched to another train that took us to Newbury. Around 12:30 pm, our group of four made it to the train station where our pre-booked taxi was waiting for us.
After doing some research, I had Marissa book our cab round-trip with this company because they had set fares to Highclere Castle. Websites I had read highly suggested booking a taxi in advance and round-trip to Downton Abbey to ensure availability.
Malcolm, our taxi driver, took the four of us to Highclere. During the 15-minute drive, he elaborated on Newbury’s history and the castle’s history. So kind!
Upon our arrival, we were met with Easter festivities at Highclere Castle. There was a petting zoo, games, live music, and lots of kids completing a map for an Easter egg hunt! I found myself completely in awe and filled with so much happiness of seeing this GORGEOUS castle in person.
After walking around for a bit and enjoying the festivities, our group made our way into Highclere for our self-guided tour. The four of us discussed how we could see the similarities architecturally to Harlaxton, as both the manor and Highclere had the same architect! Inside the castle, each room had a laminated informational sheet discussing the history and artifacts in the space. I also enjoyed seeing the huge canvas prints of filming that took place in each room that were on display. For me, this helped job my memory of particular scenes and provided context for how the whole series was filmed. Pictures were prohibited, but Elizabeth came in clutch and took some sneaky photos!
All in all, our self-guided tour took around an hour. When we finished, we took a lunch break and then went and explored the gardens. During the walk, Marissa, Carolina, Elizabeth, and I reflected on our semester at Harlaxton discussing the ways in which we had changed and the new friendships we had formed.
After we finished our walk, the four of us popped into the gift shop and then found a nice spot on the lawn to sit and chat. As the afternoon passed by, the crowds started to clear out.
At 4:45 pm, we hopped back into Malcolm’s taxi to head back to the train station.
A lovely last English adventure for the end of the semester. I am so glad I had a great group of gals to share this experience with on Easter.
Leave a positive impression,