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Secrets of Highclere Castle

4.5 out of 5 stars 867 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

See how life was – and is – lived in Highclere Castle. It may be more famous now than any time in its 1,300-year history as the setting of “Downton Abbey,” but England’s Highclere Castle has its own stories to tell. In its heyday, Highclere was the social epicenter of Edwardian England. See how all the inhabitants of Highclere lived, from the aristocrats who enjoyed a life of luxury to the army of servants toiling “below stairs.” Also find out how the current inhabitants, Lord and Lady Carnarvon, spend their $1 million in annual upkeep funds and what life in a fairytale castle is like today.

This DVD features subtitles in English (SDH).

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Since the launch of Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle has become just as famous as Lord and Lady Grantham. With the participation of current owners George and Fiona Herbert, a.k.a. Lord and Lady Carnarvon, this PBS special presents a virtual tour, though some information also appears in Secrets of the Manor House. Nonetheless, a fuller picture emerges. For the Herberts, the loss of a little privacy has been worthwhile, since their involvement with the phenomenally successful series helps to pay for the castle's upkeep, which includes 20 servants and $1 million a year in expenditures, an understandable sum in light of all the crystal chandeliers, historic clocks, and silk wall coverings (they also employ gamekeepers and deer stalkers to maintain the animal population). If the couple allows the Downton crew free reign, they reserve the smoking room for personal use, though it resembles the rest of the house, with the exception of a few ancient artifacts. The long-abandoned maids' quarters in the towers, however, look like something from out of Charlotte Brontë's brooding Jane Eyre with their dusty floors and peeling paint. The program also examines the Fifth Earl's connection to the excavation of King Tut's tomb and the vast grounds--lawn maintenance appears to make up a goodly portion of the annual budget. Though it would've been nice to feature commentary from Julian Fellowes, who created Downton with Highclere in mind, butler Colin Edwards explains the difference between his duties and those of Jim Carter's indomitable Carson. --Kathleen C. Fennessy

Product Details

  • Actors: None provided
  • Directors: Highclere Castle
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Color, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    PG
    Parental Guidance Suggested
  • Studio: PBS
  • DVD Release Date: March 12, 2013
  • Run Time: 60 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (867 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00AY2DL78
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #30,989 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By T. Umrath on March 13, 2013
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
This is a beautiful film, but none-the-less it left me somewhat disappointed. I had ordered it hoping to see the 95 percent or so of the castle and estate that you never see on Downton Abbey. After watching the DVD, that unseen portion has dropped to maybe 90 percent. I'm still wondering what nearly all of the rooms in that massive building look like - you only get to see a few that aren't used in the show. I wonder what relics might lie hidden in the huge, rambling attics and cavernous cellars. I speculate about the massive brick structure attached to the rear of the castle. Never saw THAT in the TV series! What the heck's in there?

I wonder if there are any hidden pasageways or secret rooms in the castle? How on earth do they heat the place and where did the power and water come from before modern utilities? What are some of today's maintenance challenges? Are there still farms on the estate? What do they grow?

Perhaps the current owners didn't want to have camera crews traipsing over every square inch of their house and property, which I respect. Still, I had hoped to see more. I will say that the content, in particular the sweeping aeriel views, still makes the DVD worth owning for fans of the show.
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Format: DVD
PBS has completed a series of famous manors and palaces located through Great Britain. The "Secrets of Highclere Castle" is another extremely interesting documentary of the history of this famous castle located 90 miles southwest of London. Highclere Castle for over 300 years has been the home of the Carnarvans. The most famous of the Carnarvan Dynasty was Lord Carnarvan of the 1920's who was the backer and financier of the famous archeological find in history, that of the Ancient Pharaoh Tutankhamun. Today, the claim to fame of this castle is that it is the castle of "Downton Abbey", the great series on PBS. The documentary tells the fascinating story of how it was built in the 1600's and for over 300 years it was the "playground" of the rich and famous of Great Britain. King George V stayed here a few times and was entertained and dined. The bill for that weekend alone came to over $500,000 dollars in today's exchange! When Highclere Castel was the social scene Lady and Lord Carnarvan had a wait staff of over 60 men and women.
Today, this beautiful castle is lovignly cared for by the present Lord and Lady Carnarvan who spend over $1 Million annually for its preservation and upkeep. Thankfully, do to the popularity of the series "Downton Abbey" it has become a major tourist destination and receives a generous amount of money from the tours of the castle, what PBS/BBC pays to rent this castle for the series "Downton Abbey", and a number of social events. In this documentary, you see the beautiful rooms, dining halls, bedrooms, and private family rooms. Interesting interviews with the gameskeeper who tells of the famous hunting enjoyed by King George V who hunted on the estate for pheasant, doves, and deer.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I saw this special when it aired on PBS this year and greatly enjoyed seeing the ins and outs of the workings of the modern day castle and hearing from it's current occupants. You are shown the rooms so familiar from the Downton Abbey series and learn the history of this beautiful estate.
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I found this to be interesting and somewhat informative but it left me with wanting to see and know more. I am always fascinated with the history and of how things were and was looking for more of that.
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While the video was interesting, we were disappointed by the lack of depth and detail of
the "tour" Most of what was contained could be seen on Downton Abbey. We expected
a more "close-up" tour of the castle, including some fo the rooms and architectual details
of the castle, not involved in the program. Also, some historic photographic views of the
castle and grounds would have been nice to see.
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Format: Amazon Video
Enjoyed seeing the history behind the hit tv show
It was fun to meet the people who care for the castle!
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i was disappointed in the length of this DVD - it's only about an hour long. It was interesting, but certainly not fascinating.
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Format: Amazon Video
After watching Downton Abbey, I wanted to know more about this castle. While it is interesting to learn how they support the castle, I wanted to see more of it. It was nice to see the current occupants Lord and Lady ??? (Can't remember names) but since they look like average people, actually I would rather see less of them and more of the castle itself.
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