A day at Downton Abbey

Honey, I’m home!


 Well, kind of.  I am “home” in London now…and I could only wish to reside at Highclere Castle, the grand estate that is home to Lord and Lady Grantham on the popular BBC series, Downtown Abbey.

In many ways my day trip was a perfect initiation back to life in London, filled with what I will call classic “England moments”.

Nothing defines England more than the quaint little towns that populate the countryside of Oxfordshire.  We visited Bampton, an idyllic town of cobbled houses topped with thatched roofs.  With a little set design artistry, this town is transformed into the village of Downton Abbey.   It was definitely an “England moment” to stroll along these winding lanes past these stereotypically English homes.


Downton fans will recognize this church which was prominently featured at both the Grantham weddings and the funerals.


Every good outing in England deserves a good pub lunch.  We were looking forward to dining at the establishment where Bates got a job tending bar when he temporarily left his life of service to M’Lord.

It was on our way, that another defining “England moment” occurred:  The bus broke down!  Even more typical, we later found out that it literally ran out of gas!  Nothings defines England better than this kind of mishap.  And so, we found ourselves walking one mile along the freeway to the pub as the bus sat hopelessly on the side of the road.


Approaching Highclere Castle, I imagined the theme song of Downton Abbey ringing in my ears.  The drive up to the estate looks exactly like the panning camera motion during the opening credits.  Once inside, I realized that the set designers did nothing to change the decor of the house…what you see on TV is exactly what appears in the house.   Lord and Lady Carnavon reside in the estate that has been part of their family since the late 17th century.  Once again, I had an “England moment”, traipsing through an antique castle that is still inhabited by real titled gentry.

After a lovely tour, we settled into the repaired bus (i.e. fueled- up!) to make the journey back to London.  It was an unusually warm day, and to our dismay, we discovered that the bus did not have air conditioning….providing that last “England moment” and reminding me that I have returned to the land of Barbie appliances, intermittent loos (flushing optional), dodgy plumbing (hot water optional), and apparently no air conditioning.

But the cabbies still call me “luv”, my friends happily drink wine at lunch, and day trips for adults are frequently on the calendar.

All is all, it was a perfect Homecoming.


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