Longstanding friend of the Carnarvon family, Julian Fellowes had Highclere Castle in mind as he wrote Downton Abbey. He often commented he wanted a house which spectacularly testified to the confidence and soaring optimism of the Edwardian period.
The success of Downton Abbey took everyone by surprise from the first nervous apprehension whether anyone would like the first episode or stay with it for the second or third… the series has become a phenomenon with appreciative viewers all around the world.
Downton Abbey follows the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who work for them, whose lives were changed forever during the First World War. The Christmas special takes up the story just after the end of the twists and turns wrought by the war. Avid followers of the goings on at the stately pile will find out what happens to honourable valet Bates. The tangled love triangle between Lady Mary and her two suitors, Matthew Crawley and Sir Richard Carlisle, is resolved.
The world of Highclere Castle and Downton Abbey were changed irrevocably by the First World War. Post 1918 life in both Highclere Castle and its altar ego Downton Abbey continued, as did the families living within its walls but the characters had developed swiftly through force of circumstance as new opportunities presented themselves.
A third series has been commissioned to follow the characters in the early twenties. The world was about to enter a new decade with famously charming flapper dresses, new dances imported from America whilst in Britain there were strikes, poverty for the returning soldiers, and a recession as the UK tried to manage its debt and balance its books.
Find out more about the real Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle.
Whilst the Castle and Grounds are now closed to visitors, do visit our online Gift Shop and take a look at Lady Carnarvon's new book: 'Lady Catherine & The Real Downton Abbey'. Click here to enter the Shop.