Overview

Highclere Castle is a magnificent family home, often described as ‘the finest occupied Victorian mansion in England’. Owned by the Carnarvon Family for over 300 years, we hope visitors will discover its treasures throughout the tours of the State rooms as well as exploring the Egyptian Exhibition.


The Castle you see today was designed by Sir Charles Barry. He began in 1842 whilst re-building the Houses of Parliament. Many similarities exist between the styles of the two buildings.

Visitors will recognise many of the rooms, from the dark mahogany, gilded, Library with over 5,650 books, to the Dining Room dominated by Van Dyck’s portrait of Charles I.


The Castle cellars celebrate the achievements of the 5th Earl who, with his colleague Howard Carter, discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun in 1922.

Highclere’s gardens have existed since medieval times and Lord and Lady Carnarvon take much pleasure developing the gardens you see today.


Opening
Opening

2020

11 to 26 April

3 to 5, 24 to 26 May

12 July to 8 September

Sundays to Thursdays.

Tours only, 10.30am to 5pm (last admission 4pm), space permitting.

Egypt exhibition not free.

Find Us
Find us

Car

Highclere Castle lies to the west of London, not far from the M4 and Newbury. Oxford and Birmingham are to the north, Winchester and Southampton to the south. Follow the brown tourist signs from the A34. 

Train

There is a good service from London Paddington to Newbury. Taxis can be found outside the station at Newbury.

Parking

Car park on site Car park only available when house and garden is open

Taxi

Broadway Cars 01635 847784

Admission
Admission

HHA Friends visit the house for free, exhibition is not included.

Summer house, exhibition and garden prices:
Adult: £24
Child (4-16yrs): £14.50
Over 60: £21
Student: £21
Family: £64

Various other prices based on access.

More admission details

Accessibility
Accessibility
  • Guide dogs welcome
  • Accessible toilets
  • Accessible parking
  • Wheelchair ramps/routes
Group Visits
Group Visits

Group bookings are released in early January for the year ahead. Due to high demand these bookings do sell out very quickly and we advise you check our website for the latest updates.

Please check the website for further information, admission times and details for our special events

Visit website

Upcoming Stays

£££

Invitation to Stay

 

Grotto Lodge

Set on the Wayfarers Way, Grotto Lodge sits in one of the best locations for country walks. The main part of the house is circular and affords the most outstanding views across North Hampshire and West Berkshire. Nearby is the lovely town of Hungerford, famed for its antiques market and the handsome cities of Oxford and Winchester are a mere 30 minutes’ drive away. There are a number of delightful local pubs which offer a range of delicious home-grown specialities and craft ales.

Grotto Lodge has a double bedroom and a bathroom on each of the first and second floors. It has been beautifully restored by Lady Carnarvon maintaining many of the original features and allowing the circular walls to lead the eye.

The rooms are thoughtfully decorated with traditional wallpapers and fabrics from Colefax & Fowler and Robert Kime as well as carefully selected paint hues to create a peaceful escape from the pressures of modern life.

Find out more

London Lodge

The imposing stone archway, dressed with Coade stone and filled by the heavy iron gates, framed a grand entrance for family and visitors alike. The individual lodges, to either side were added later, most probably around 1840. Over the past two years they have been painstakingly restored by the current Earl and his wife to provide unique and luxurious accommodation for two. (It has one double bedroom)

The interior has been sympathetically restored using traditional lime plaster to the curved internal walls of the lodges and the principal rooms have large windows with bespoke oak wooden shutters, copies of the originals. The layout for both lodges has been kept simple; to the north west, a charming sitting room arranged around a Chesneys wood burner, and fully equipped kitchen behind. Then a separate building across the paved walkway houses the bedroom lodge with a comfortable double bed, bathroom (with bath and shower over bath) and dressing area. Due to its design, London Lodge is not suitable for those with mobility issues.

Find out more

 

Weddings

In a beautiful and dramatic setting such as Highclere Castle, your wedding day could be a real life experience as glamorous and magical as any depicted on Downton Abbey.

Our dedicated team of friendly and professional staff are ready to help you with every detail to ensure you have a wonderful day. 

Your wedding day will be made all the more memorable with stunning photographs in the Folly, on the lawns or in the State Rooms.


Corporate Hire

Corporate events

Whether you are looking to host a product launch, take part in team building activities, or celebrate successes with your clients, Highclere has the flexibility and professionalism to provide your business with an event that will be unique and bespoke.

Find out more on our website.

Facilities

  • Lunch
  • Wheelchair accessible
  • Refreshments
  • Team building activities

Opening
Opening

2020

11 to 26 April

3 to 5, 24 to 26 May

12 July to 8 September

Sundays to Thursdays.

Tours only, 10.30am to 5pm (last admission 4pm), space permitting.

Egypt exhibition not free.

Find Us
Find us

Car

Highclere Castle lies to the west of London, not far from the M4 and Newbury. Oxford and Birmingham are to the north, Winchester and Southampton to the south. Follow the brown tourist signs from the A34. 

Train

There is a good service from London Paddington to Newbury. Taxis can be found outside the station at Newbury.

Parking

Car park on site Car park only available when house and garden is open

Taxi

Broadway Cars 01635 847784

Admission
Admission

HHA Friends visit the house for free, exhibition is not included.

Summer house, exhibition and garden prices:
Adult: £24
Child (4-16yrs): £14.50
Over 60: £21
Student: £21
Family: £64

Various other prices based on access.

More admission details

Accessibility
Accessibility
  • Guide dogs welcome
  • Accessible toilets
  • Accessible parking
  • Wheelchair ramps/routes
Group Visits
Group Visits

Group bookings are released in early January for the year ahead. Due to high demand these bookings do sell out very quickly and we advise you check our website for the latest updates.

Other opening


School Visits

In 1922 the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. Over 5,000 objects, works of art and everyday items were found in the tomb, providing an extraordinary insight into the Ancient Egyptian civilisation.

Educational visits to the Egyptian Exhibition may be arranged outside of normal public opening, subject to availability. These visits are suitable for Primary school children KS 2 (7-11 years)


Highclere Castle 's history and features

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 on the park.

Later on, the palace was rebuilt as Highclere Place House in 1679 when it was purchased by Sir Robert Sawyer, Attorney General to Charles II and James II and direct grandfather of the current Earl.

In 1771, 'Capability' Brown made plans for the alteration of the grounds, water and symmetrical Georgian house at Highclere for the 1st Earl of Carnarvon.

In 1842, Sir Charles Barry – who was also working on the Houses of Parliament at the time – finished his final designs for the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon, transforming Highclere Place House into Highclere Castle.

The Countess’ research has revealed that, in 1867, the Constitution of Canada was drawn up in the British North America Act by 4th Earl of Carnarvon and John A. Macdonald, later the first Prime Minister of Canada.

The history of planes begins at Highclere Castle in 1910, with Sir Geoffrey De Havilland making his first flight on the Highclere Estate at Seven Barrows.

In 1922, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon discovered Tutankhamen’s Tomb with trusted colleague and friend Howard Carter.

During the First World War, Highclere Castle was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers run by the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

Find out more here


Fun Facts

The Saloon

The Saloon is physically and socially the heart of the house. It was designed for the 4th Earl by Thomas Allom in a gothic style with rich decoration and completed in the 1860's.

The remarkable wall coverings are made of leather. They were brought back from Cordoba, Spain by the 3rd Earl and date from 1631. They were hung here in 1862.

There are matching panels in the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam.

The State Dining Room

The room is dominated by Van Dyck's great equestrian portrait of Charles I. Either side are portraits of Carnarvon ancestors who took part in the civil war in England in the 1640’s.

The Library

The double library was in its heyday during the late Victorian period. At this time, it was used by the 4th Earl of Carnarvon as a "withdrawing" room.

The Earl was an active Tory in Parliament, a member of Disraeli's Cabinet in the 1860's and 1870's. Here he could discuss politics with friends or retire in peace.

There are over 5,650 books, the earliest dating from the 16th century. The Library is as much used by the family today as in the past, and is a focal meeting point for drinks and conversation both before and after lunch and dinner.

The Music Room

The Music room is a wonderfully sunny south-facing room with views towards two follies: Jackdaw's Castle to the east and Heaven's Gate at the summit of Siddown Hill.

The baroque ceiling was painted by Francis Hayman in the 1730’s whilst the walls are hung with Italian 16th century Italian embroideries.

The Drawing Room

In 1895, Alfred de Rothschild gave his daughter Almina bolts of green French silk from which to decorate this lovely south facing Drawing Room.

Narrow cupboards between the double doors from the Drawing Room to the Smoking Room hid the 5th Earl of Carnarvon's collection of Egyptian antiquities.

The Smoking Room

Dutch paintings from the 17th Century represent some of the earliest works of art brought to Highclere by the Carnarvon family. Early 19th Century art from a Grand Tour, hang high on the walls, whilst others link to family cousins at Wilton House, together with some of the portraits in the Dining Room.