If you’ve ever dreamt of being swept off your feet by Matthew Crawley (Dan Stevens), or sharing a passionate embrace with Lady Mary (Michelle Dockery), then you’ll love this virtual tour of Downton Abbey.
Coming courtesy of the Highclere Castle app, the tour provides a fascinating insight into the world of the Crawleys, with a room by room guide, a 360 degree ‘tour’ and commentary by Downton star Jim Carter (Carson).
The castle is a breathtaking feast for the eyes, with a seemingly never ending stream of eye-catching furniture, artworks and architectural details. It is also home to the dynastic Carnarvon family.
The 8th Earl and Lady Carnarvon (George Herbert and his wife Fiona), come from one of England’s oldest families, able to trace their lineage right back to the Earls of Pembroke.
In 2010 the couple opened up their home to a production team from ITV who were then engaged on a new show from the screenwriter behind Gosford Park.
Julian Fellowes had been reluctant to make another period piece so soon after his Oscar winning previous effort, but following several meetings with ITV, the writer agreed to create a screenplay for the channel’s new show. What followed was small screen magic.
Ten years on, and Downton Abbey is a global phenonemon. The show is screened in more than 80 countries, the cast are international stars and Highclere Castle has become one of the hottest tickets around, with tours of the castle booked up months in advance.
If you can’t be bothered with the expensive of traipsing all the way to Hampshire, however, then you’ll certainly be interested in this brilliant tour.
The Highclere Castle app begins with a video. A vintage automobile languidly drives up to the house before the camera takes us into the house for a whistle-stop tour.
Following this, there’s a short history of the castle. We learn that Highclere was remodelled in the 19th century, and that the architecture behind the rebuilding was none other than Charles Barry, who would achieve immortality for his work on the Palace of Westminster. All of the commentary in the app is provided by actor Jim Carter, who plays the butler Carson in the ITV show.
The content on the Highclere Castle app is helpfully divided into sections. There are video tours of several of the rooms in the castle, including the Salon, The Library, Music Room, Drawing Room, Smoking Room, Morning Room, Dining Room, the Bedrooms and the Kitchens.
There is also information on the Carnarvon family tree, Highclere at War, the Estate, Building & Restoration and the Carnarvon Family & Egypt.
The app is full of wonderful stories and vignettes. For example, Carter tells us about the exploits of Almina Herbert, the fifth Countess of Carnarvon. Lady Carnarvon set up a hospital for injured soldiers at Highclere during the first World War. The incident is recalled in the second season of Downton Abbey when lady Sybil persuades her father to allow a hospital to operate in the grounds of Highclere during the war.
The app also has a rather fun 360 degree tour which allows users to zoom around the different rooms in the castle. It works fantastically well on a smart phone and the level of detail in the images is superb.
The Downton Abbey app is a superb substitute for, or accompaniment to a visit to Highclere Castle. The volume of content is impressive, the weight of historical detail is superb and the wealth of videos and 360 content make the app engaging and fun. If you’ve always dreamt of taking your own personal tour of Downton Abbey, here’s your chance.
The Highclere Castle app is available on Android and iTunes now. More information about the app can be found here.
For information on other great places of interest to visit, please click here.