TU DU TU DU DU TUM TUM TUM TUM. Or something like that.
Welcome to Downton Abbey, everyone! The Anglophile that I am is a huge fan of this period series (this surprises no one, right?) and I was very sad when it ended earlier this year. Although the drama and its plot twists were certainly entertaining, what I will miss the most is Lady Violet’s witty comebacks. I briefly considered writing a post entirely consisting of her best one-liners but I figure this wouldn’t be of much help to those of you who also want to visit Downton Abbey.
In the spirit of being helpful, I wrote down everything I learned during my Downton-themed day trip in Oxfordshire and Hampshire. Let’s dive in!
This is NOT a sponsored post – I really did go ahead and paid $250 of my own money to have this incredibly geeky Downton day. I REGRET NOTHING.
How To Visit Downton Abbey
There are basically two ways you can get to Downton Abbey on a day trip from London: either on your own means or on a guided trip, and none of them come cheap. Again, remember that the castle is only open a few days out of the year.
GUIDED DAY TRIP TO DOWNTON ABBEY
There seems to be several companies offering day trips to Highclere Castle. I went with this one because I found the itinerary to be the most interesting (some tours also feature the Yew Tree farm and other filming locations) but at this point, it really depends on your personal preferences. The three stops (Oxford, Bampton, Highclere) were plenty for this day trip; any more would have felt rushed and crammed in, in my opinion.
INDEPENDENT VISIT TO DOWNTON ABBEY
The truth is that an independent trip to Highclere Castle will not be all that low-priced either. Welcome to the wonderful world of English trains…!
To get to Highclere, you will need to take the train to either Newbury or Whitchurch (roughly £20 each way) and then take a taxi (which you should absolutely pre-book, and which will set you back between £15 and £20 each way). This is the simplest and pretty much only way to do it unless you plan on renting a car. In addition to the transportation costs, you will also need to factor in the £15 entry fee to the castle. You’re looking at £95 day trip total per person.
Visit Downton Abbey: Know Before You Go
- One of the things I really wish I’d known before I visited Downton Abbey (I guess I should call it Highclere Castle at this point) is that photography is not permitted. Rant alert: this is my almighty-Canadian-I-am-a-paying-customer speaking but GOSH if you’re being paid millions of pounds by a major network to have your estate featured on international television, people are going to want to take fucking pictures. Downton Abbey takes place in the 1910s but this is 2016; there is no such thing as travelling and not taking pictures nowadays. So yeah, that was kind of a bummer (but also not really because I’m a sneaky bitch).
- As you know by now it is a family-owned, lived-in castle, and, therefore, it is only open to the public a handful of days every year. You WILL need to time your visit right, regardless of whether you’re going independently or with a group. Tickets sell out quite swiftly – Downton Abbey is indeed quite popular still.
- Haven’t seen Downton in a while? Fret not. You can still get the DVD boxset or the behind-the-scenes book The World of Downton Abbey.
- If you want to visit Downton Abbey with a guided tour, chances are you’ll be departing from Victoria Coach Station (some companies do offer hotel pick-ups; call ahead and confirm with them). The gate is not clearly announced at the entrance, though: you will need to go all the way to the end of the station (if you think you’ve walked past it, you haven’t, keep going). Also remember that you will have enough time to grab something to eat in Oxford before you head on to Bampton.