9 Apr 2013

Downton Abbey, aka Highclere: The Best Christmas Present Ever

Let me back track a little.

A month or two before Christmas I received a ‘save the date’ from my daughter.

All her note said was, ‘it’s a surprise’.


Fast forward to Christmas morning.

She handed us an envelope.. and said, ‘Happy Christmas’.

Inside was a hand-made card… a collage of characters from Downton Abbey… and of course Highclere Castle… the star of the television series.

With tickets for a tour of the castle and grounds.

If you are a Downton Abbey devotee… you can imagine my joy.


Yesterday was the day.

We flew back to London from France on Sunday night and drove to Hampshire early the next morning.

Is Highclere aka Downton Abbey as you imagine?

Yes and No.

Without the characters a house is a house or in this case a castle is a castle.

It is impressive… magnificently situated above rolling English countryside.. the bleating of sheep the only sound for miles.

and it looks just as it appears in Downton Abbey.

I could imagine Carson coming in at any moment and demanding to know what on earth we were doing in the drawing room.

 The very definition of ‘bucolic’.

(i have been waiting to use that word for a very long time)

We toured the house… upstairs and downstairs.

We roamed the gardens and afterwards enjoyed a cream tea…as you do in England.

All in all that daughter of mine is one of the most thoughtful girls I know. We adore Downton Abbey and have watched all the series and Christmas specials together.

It was the perfect day and the perfect gift… xv

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Anita Rivera

Bonjour Vicki!

My husband was able to buy all three seasons on DVD of Downton Abby; that means that during the Christmas holidays, we watched EVERY SEASON TWICE! We love all the characters, and as a result of watching so much Downton Abby, I went out and found and purchased a silver tea set!

The characters are alive and so well cast…the show is one of those rare works that seems to bind many people from all over the world together.

What a lovely daughter you have, to gift you with such a beautiful holiday. Peace and love to you, Vicki!


Karen in CT

.. What a great Christmas present … what’s better than stepping into the Downton world for a day? ….. lovely pictures, thanks for sharing.

Karen in CT


Funny this post is appearing just now: After reading and reading again about Downton Abbey on this blog, I eventually indulged in the DVD set and started to watch the first season this past week-end. I don’t have TV at home and am not much of a series addict, but I love it!


You truly received a precious gift….the gift of love and thoughtfulness from your daughter. :) I think I am the only person in the world who has not watched DA but I am going to …. I promise. :)

thyme (Sarah)

What a marvelous daughter you have! I would have been tickled pink and as excited as if someone said I could go to a rock concert. So glad you enjoyed the day and I’m off to read a bit more about the history of the story. Have you been following “Call the Midwife”? I am enchanted with this series. However, “Mr. Selfrige” is a sore disappointment. Can’t even last through episode 2. :(


I have tears in my eyes reading this post. What a lovely gift . To share it with your daughter even makes it better. A memory you will cherish for a lifetime. Thank you for sharing.

Frances Russell

Oh Vicki that is such a beautiful present from your gorgeous daughter! I love Downtown Abbey and to go on the grounds of such a magnificent manor/castle such as Highclere would have been so exciting. We lived in Hampshire in Basingstoke in 1990 for 2 years and one of our favourite things was to visit “The Vyne” which was a gorgeous manor house just outside of Basingstoke and they often had Baroque orchestras playing in the summer on the grounds … so beautiful!
Thanks for sharing
best wishes
ps I have just had a renovation of my blog by Shari at LIttle Blue Deer .. pop over if you have the chance!


What a wonderful gift from your daughter, incredibly thoughtful.
I’m sure the visit will remain most memorable because you shared it together.

It really is a pretty idyllic spot.


What a very thoughtful daughter indeed..and that you are able to just fly there :)
I watched a special..touring the estate and the owners..it was very interesting..but then again I love DA..
Lucky you.. and your bucolic scene is just perfect.

my notting hill

You know this is on my list! Today my sister in law will be visiting, she lives in London and Yorkshire for her job. I think it might be time to visit her there, with a slight detour of course. Oh, and what a sweet daughter you have.


How thoughtful of your wonderful daughter! What a great Christmas present! I’m so glad you enjoyed it!


Aw how wonderful! Great that you were able to do this! Can’t wait for the next season to start…

the paris apartment

Hi Vicki
I’ve been meaning to stop by and say hello. I’m following your adventures on all things in your beautiful life! I just had to make sure to let you know how much I’m living vicariously and enjoying every minute!!xoxoc


How much fun was that!!! I love the English countryside. I am of English heritage but teach and love French.
I can just hear the sheep. They make great lawn mowers too for large grounds. And, that is a great daughter for treating you in such a grand way! Au revoir. Sheila

french cravings

I searched high and low for the DVD set last Christmas, but every store in town was sold out! Apparently everyone else had the same idea. Your lovely post reminds me to run to the store right now…surely they’ve restocked since then! ;)

Such a thoughtful gift from a very thoughtful daughter. x Katie


What heaven! I watched the BBC documentary on the castle and it’s history. It was so interesting, in the way I suppose any of our family histories are if there is enough time and certainly enough money. lol I have it on my list of sights to see…someday. How lovely to see it in person with your thoughtful daughter!


What a lovely present, and what a thoughtful daughter! I just love the soft mistiness of the English landscape, and I am missing it.


Vickie, you are one lucky mother to have such a thoughtful daughter, but as the saying goes..”the apple does not fall far from the tree.” I am sure she is a living example of you and how you brought her up. It was so thoughtful of her to give you something you did not need but really wanted and probably would not have given to yourself. I love love watching the show. I am still reeling with how the story ended this season. I did not see the accident coming…not to spoil it for anyone. I like how you used the word “bucolic.” I do not think I will ever have the occasion to use it! One of my dreams is to go to the site/estate in the BBC version of Pride and Prejudice and see “Pemberly.” I would also like to see the Chattsworth Estate. I think it is Mr Darcy’s house in the newest Pride and Prejudice staring Kiera Knightly. Thank you for sharing your adventure with us!


Such a thoughtful gift! Our youngest daughter lives in St. Albans and is married to a wonderful Brit! His grandparents are members of The National Trust Foundation and she gave us the gift of touring some lovely homes and gardens, which one of my favorites was Stourhead Gardens and Home and the scene of Lizzy running across the bridge in Pride and Prejudice was filmed on that bridge. Also we ventured up to Holkam Hall where The Duchess was filmed in part. It is interesting that many of the lovely homes still are in the same families and they actually live in a portion of the homes. England is a wonderful educational experience! In just two weeks, my husband will be with them again in London and touring England again! I hope to see this! As always, thank you for sharing!

Linda Carswell

Oh Vicki!!!! This is perfection….what an amazing gift. I try to never get (too) envious of other people’s travels and experiences, but being a HUGE “DA” fan….well, I find it hard not to be envious of this!!!! Looks like a wonderful day.

Linda x


Hi Vicki!!!

What a great gift and what a great memory for the two of you!!!
I’m so happy it was everything you thought!!



Hi Vicki, how lucky you were. I was in London last July and desperately tried to get tickets, but they sell out so fast. My favourite show, and a top rating one here in Australia. I am going back to Europe next year and this time I will hopefully pre-purchase tickets. My ultimate holiday house.

Love your bloggs, Margaret

Corrina Tough

What a thoughtful gift. I have never watched a full episode (I hear you gasp!) but I missed quite a bit of the beginning and now I just feel like I can’t get into it. However, the location and glorious cinematography draws me in every time an add comes on telly. Such a divine location but most of all what a beautiful way to spend some mother/daughter time together, I think that ranks even higher than where you were- you’ll always remember and treasure it. xxCorrina.

Suzanne de Cornelia

How exciting! What a perfectly darling daughter! Think I’m the only one on the planet who hasn’t seen the series…I’ll look into DVDs and watch on laptop as no TV. On your fine recommendation. Merci.

Sue Malizia

Hi Vicki, I enjoyed your post today. What a great gift from your daughter..thoughtful, fun, and memorable. I’ve been a Downton Abbey fan from day one and love “everything Downton”. Since I live in California and doubt I’ll ever get to visit Highclere Castle I went on line to check it out and ended up ordering autographed copies of “Lady Almina” plus a few other mementos; the next best thing to being there. Bet you had a wonderful time…thanks for letting me follow along and share in your travels. :-)

Peggy Braswell

what a perfect gift, something so special! don’t you just love gifts like that? In London, Dennis Severs House is something else as is Petersham Nursery in Richmond bet you have been to both. I haven’t been to Highclere yet but hearing about it from you was a treat! Must go to see it the next trip across the pond. xxpeggybraswelldesign.com

Francine gardner

What a marvelous present! I would dream to visit the castle.I went into deep withdrawal when the season ended. the writers and producers have created such an intimate connection with the viewers, that we feel involved with the characters’ lives.


Yes.. The paintings were the standout… the most amazing feature of Highclere… xv

La Contessa

Wonderful gift!Reminds me of last year too when my oldest SON gave me BOX seats at the OPERA!I was stunned and so enjoyed the view!
Ps. Looks like we did something right VICKI!


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