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Is Highclere Castle (a.k.a. Downton Abbey) Haunted?

Front facade of Highclere Castle – Source: Wikipedia

I’m absolutely obsessed with the Masterpiece Classic, Downtown Abbey. There’s nothing paranormal about the show. (Although, quite a few characters have died within the stately country home. If Downton Abbey was haunted, there’d certainly be bodies with stories to account for any ghosts.)

In addition to its characters, I’m nuts about Downton Abbey’s setting. I recently learned the home is located in Berkshire, England and it’s real name is Highclere Castle. Ahhh, doesn’t that have such a romantic ring to it? Quintessentially British.

Naturally, such a fine and proper house must have some ghosts, right?

One of Highclere Castle’s current stewards, the Countess of Carnarvon, was interviewed by the Telegraph about it. She said it’s had a ghost sighting or two, but when she took over she had it blessed. She wasn’t sure if that helped the spirits move along, but it seemed to have given her some peace of mind.

She also referenced a potentially bad ghost that was banished by four bishops. In the interview, I couldn’t understand what she was saying at one point, but she mentioned something about that ghost being banished for 100 years. She joked she wasn’t sure when the 100 years was up and quipped about possibly having to rebanish him.

But as for details about specific activity, sightings, or which rooms or areas on the grounds may be the most active? That’s been harder to come by and will be something I’ll be digging into further.


The Carnarvon family has called Highclere Castle home for generations. In 1922, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered King Tutankhamun’s tomb.

These days the Castle pays tribute to that monumental discovery with The Egyptian Exhibit. And what better place to have that than in its cellars?

This tidbit particularly caught my eye. The King Tut exhibit came to Denver when I was little. It was a huge event and it was right when I was going through my Egyptian phase. (I couldn’t get enough of anything connected to pyramids, pharaohs, mummies, etc.)

One thing I’ve never forgotten about was King Tut’s curse. It was almost chilling to read about both Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter being “victims” of it. They were just names back in my youth. Now I have a better frame of reference to connect them to the story.

And of course I can’t help but wonder if the 5th Earl of Carnarvon is one of the ghosts haunting Highclere castle.


The neatest thing I learned was that the Castle welcomes tourists! It’s only open during certain times, though: beginning in April through September.

It also hosts special events, like weddings, engagements, or corporate functions. What a setting for a wedding! I think it would be marvelous to go to a dance or dinner there. But I would settle for just a chance to tour it.


Downton Abbey: Episode 1 – See how it all began.

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey

Masterpiece Classic: Downton Abbey Season 2 (Original U.K. Unedited Edition)


The World of Downton Abbey

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

Courtney Mroch
Courtney Mroch, otherwise known as HJ's Ambassador of Dark and Paranormal Tourism, is an author, traveler, and ghost enthusiast. When she's not writing, jaunting, or planning her next trip, it's a safe bet you'll find her in one of three places: on a tennis court somewhere, on a yoga mat somewhere, or watching a horror movie somewhere. She currently resides in Nashville, Tennessee.

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9 thoughts on “Is Highclere Castle (a.k.a. Downton Abbey) Haunted?

  1. I got sooo excited when I saw you had posted this!! Justin and I are both obsessed with Downton Abbey, too! My mission is to get everyone else I know addicted to it, too. That’s really interesting about Highclere Castle. Yeah … my guess is not so haunted 😉 I would love to visit, though! Glad to know other Downton fans!

  2. O_O what! There is a time limit on how long the “banish” thing works? X_X ohhhh, I certainly hope that 100 year limit is not up yet….think about it, not coming out to talk or to have fun for 100 years, I would be extra active and hyper!

  3. Scott, LOL. Yeah, I was disappointed with the lack of ghostly info. But the King Tut angle was pretty cool. Satisfied me.

    Ellen – YAY!!!! Another us Downtonites have a way of finding one another, don’t we? YAY! LOVE the show. LOVE the setting. WANT to go there!!!!

    Annie: ROFL!!!! I had never thought about it like that, but you’re right. Imagine the freedom you’d be feeling to be able to do something again after 100 years. Thx for the chuckle!!!

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