Downton Abbey in the USA


A question I am most often asked is why is Downton Abbey so successful?  If I knew the magic formula I would bottle it and keep it going for Highclere!

Downton is about a family, Highclere / Downton is where they both live and work. It is romantic, nostalgic, there are some great lines, engaging characters, and it clearly illustrates there are mean and kind people in all parts of life.  It has happy moments, the potential for love and yet the family has to grieve as well. There is little violence. Perhaps the ups and downs and bonds of a family are what we all hope for in our own lives?

Next I admit to prejudice. The star of the show doesn’t speak, but the presence and beauty of Highclere Castle, our home, stands central to the series. It dominates the episodes, reflecting moods and reinforcing the action. In a comforting way, it does not change.

Highclere was built to inspire at the centre of an Arcadian landscape and from any angle or any light it never has a bad day.

My working title for one of my books was “A sense of place”. America is a young country, although an old land, and the quest for belonging seems often to be not quite settled. Highclere has 1,300 years of history in exactly the same place. So perhaps for American viewers it is a glimpse to a tangible past, something to give us all continuity as we try to make sense of our own lives.


I am in States for a book tour for much of February, beginning in Nashville before heading to Virginia – where my latest heroine Catherine’s forbears came from- and then up the EastCoast. It should be fascinating and great to hear and speak with fans about our home and the series.

Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey

45 Responses to “Downton Abbey in the USA”
  1. CJ says:

    Have you published a schedule for your US book tour and if so, where might I find it? I’m in Virginia and would love to attend if you are reading / signing somewhere near me!

    • LAdy Carnarvon says:

      Thank you for asking – I am going to be in Richmond and Williamsburg, and as each day is more finalised I will try to out up an outline. I seem to be busy from breakfast onwards!

  2. Les & Dee says:

    You have a lovely place. We are looking forward to come to see your place at the end of April..
    We just love looking around old places.
    Kind regards
    Les & Dee Tizzard.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      I hope not too near the end of April – we close after Easter so please check the website!

  3. Jillaine Rabine says:

    Hello Lady Carnarvon: I was at Highclere in September for the Langalanga Scholarship Fundraiser. It was an unforgettable evening.

    Are you coming to washington, D.C. for your book signing? I live here and I would love to go to one of your book signings. I bought both books at Highclere Castle but would love to have you sign them again!

    Many thanks,

    Jill Rabine

  4. Ginette says:

    Bonjour Lady Carnarvon,

    Do you project to come in Montréal?

    Would be great!

    Have a very nice day,


  5. Greetings Lady Carnarvon from a wintery New York State, a warm welcome awaits you should you pass this way. Wishing you a tour full of laughter, fair weather and many pleasantries. Will be checking back to see if you share more of your itinerary as it comes together for you. We adore DA & Highclere Castle here in the States, your family is very gracious to accommodate filming in your home and we thank you so very much.

    Best Regards, StitchinSweetSue

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      I am definitely ending up in New York (around 16th Feb) and have just bought a very warm coat!!!

  6. Jane Salemson says:

    Are you coming to Chapel Hill, North Carolina? Downton Abbey has a large, very enthusiastic following here and in the neigbouring Triangle area of Raleigh and Durham. You would receive a warm welcome. Our really good independent bookshop in Chapel Hill is Flyleaf Books, a great place for a signing!

    Jane Salemson

  7. Jane Salemson says:

    Just realized my earlier comment had my email address mis-spelt. This one is correct.

    Jane Salemson

  8. Sharon Eames says:

    Lady Carnarvon

    I visited your home Highclere Castle in the summer as like many others I am completely in love with the series, the characters and the history.

    I have since read your books and found them as compelling as the programme itself and I had to remind myself when reading them that it’s real and not the work of Julian Fellowes, the discovery of the tomb in Egypt and the personalities of the women at Highclere, how amazing, how strong they were and are.

    I feel the success of the programme is due to the way the people work together in the house, be it Lord Grantham down to Daisy the kitchen maid. Their respect for one another and the way they help one another through some of the hardest and darkest hours is touching.

    But the standards in the programme are something we all miss. I am fifty years old now and the standards of dining room habits have slipped dreadfully, eating with a fork – without the knife, for me it’s not right and seeing the tables so beautifully laid out in the programme and obviously how occasionally you would have them if you entertain at the house is good to see.

    Manners and respect are not taught in the same way. Interestingly enough I run a Cub Scout group and the standards I encourage are good manners, respect and pride in your appearance each week, not accepting second best, I encourage the cubs to be the best that they can be, putting effort in reeps rewards.

    Downton to Highclere has a magic about it that will never change. We have it now in all the episodes filmed, listen to the acid lines from the Dowager Countess, here Lady Mary challenge the male dominated world and Carson trying to keep in step, how can you not just lose yourself in it with a cup of earl grey tea in a delicate china tea cup, with a slice of cake as a treat.

    I will visit again this year purely to walk through those glorious rooms, seeing the great hall and take in the atmosphere it provides. You must personally feel a great sense of history and how you will become a part of that as you play your part like previous countesses before you. What an amazing challenge to make a difference like they did in the years past.

    I sometimes wonder whether the downton storyline could be taken from your books, because you certainly have a broad range of characters good, bad, naughty and downright incredible.

    I sit watching the programme with my two sons (19 and 16) who also came to see your home with me for my fiftieth birthday in 2013 and we sit there saying “we have walked down the stairs” or through the hall, funny isn’t it, how much you can really love something that’s a programme on the television.

    Old fashioned I maybe but grateful I am to you all for sharing your home and for the cast and production team of downton for providing us with this jewel in the crown of media, it is the only programme I watch.

    God bless and thank you
    Sharon Eames

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      It is a beautiful house but I often think the setting is as important, the folds in the landscape, the grouping of trees, the follies to draw your eye to a hill… I do love it.

  9. Rose says:

    Lady Carnarvon—–I do hope you will publish your USA book tour with cities and dates…….

  10. Susan Floyd-CUdd says:

    Hello, Lady Carnarvon. First of all let me say, there is no doubt that your home, the castle is the star of Downton Abbey!

    I will be visiting Highclere on a private tour with the WTVI PBS station from Charlotte, NC, USA, on August 27 in the late afternoon. I do so hope if you are in residence, we will be able to meet you-it would certainly for me be the highlight of my week in and around London! I did so enjoy your book on Lady Almina-it was wonderful! Now for my question. When on your book tour will you be in or near Charlotte, NC? Perhaps an itinerary is available for publishing? Many thanks, and good writing for you during these cold winter days of January.
    Best Regards, Susan Floyd-Cudd

  11. Becky Eldredge says:

    Hello Lady Carnarvon,
    I am in the Boston area, and would love to attend a book signing, and reading if you are in the area. By any chance will you be coming this way?

  12. Kay Pike says:

    Will your book be available in Canada? I live in Newfoundland, would love to get a copy. My husband and I both watch Downton Abbey. Love series four. Good luck with your tour. Regards Kay Pike

  13. Mary Cranmer says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    I hope you can post a schedule of where you will be in the US, I would love to meet you! I already have signed copies of your books and I hope you will write more. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts and your home with the entire world.

    Many thanks
    Mary Cranmer

  14. Sanne says:

    Dear Madam,
    perhaps because it reminds of a time in which a certain style was lived. Of course, only of a very small number of people. And perhaps nowadays nobody would like to live in this way total. But it is a fairytale for adults.
    Best regards
    Sanne W

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      I have always liked fairy tales and happy endings – I know it is not always like that but Highclere remains a world apart

  15. Amos Tucker says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    My wife and I are visiting England for the first time in July to celebrate our 21st wedding anniversary. We are looking forward to visiting your home during our stay and renewing our wedding vows in Gretna Green. We wish you and Lord Carnarvon continued success with all your endevours with Highclere Castle. Amos Tucker

  16. Sharon Tucker Lallman says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    I am absolutely captivated with the historical information you are sharing through the written work in your books. Hardly a wink in between the lines and I go from word to word, re-reading so I may gain a better historical understanding. Where may I find the listing of your book tour in the U.S.A.? There is a very small museum in Tennessee you may be interested in visiting while you are in Nashville. I shall send a note.

    When I read the above post, from Mr. Amos Tucker, I chose to write a congratulatory note on the renewal of his wedding vows. I read his last name as I was thinking, “I would so love to go to Highclere Castle”.

    Thank you so very much for opening your doors and welcoming us in.
    Sharon Tucker Lallman

  17. Ann Moore says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    I’m not sure the comment I posted on your Christmas blog will be accepted because the website said I was posting too fast. I just learned that I will have the chance to meet you on February 10 when you visit Williamsburg, Virginia! I love the show and watch each episode several times, once for the plot and once to soak up the beautiful views of the castle. As a painter, I especially enjoy rediscovering the many magnificent paintings and other superb works of art as they reappear in each episode. How wonderful it must be for you to have them as members of the family whom you see every day!

  18. Carol Schramek says:

    Greetings from Philadelphia, Lady Carnavon!
    I see from your comments that your US tour is taking shape. I have been eagerly looking for your itinerary so that I can come to a book signing. I visited Highclere on September 30th, and it was a dream come true! I am already hoping for a return visit to Highclere, and I have throughly enjoyed your books. I hope you will be coming to Philadelphia. If not, I will be boarding a train to NYC!

  19. Marilyn Peck says:

    Greetings, Lady Carnarvon, from Florida!
    I read with interest your words about how Highclere Castle “stands central” in the episodes of Downton Abbey, reflecting moods and enhancing the interactions of the actors and storylines. The music also serves to enhance the storylines as well, I think. The natural sunlight and the lighting effects add to the tone of the program as well. My late uncle was in the world of stage productions and television for years. He shared with me how lighting effects can truly create beautiful images on screen and I have rather a habit of looking at that sort of thing!
    My husband and I viewed a program that featured you and Lord Carnarvon talking about Highclere with Lord Carnarvon offering a tour of the grounds around the Abbey. That program really enabled us to grasp some of the history and the beauty of your part of the world!
    I also found your comment about Downton Abbey having a history dating back 1300 years interesting. I do agree that living in our rather young society/culture, here in the States, at least for me, has caused me to be very drawn to the continuity that you describe at Downton. Searching for that very same continuity, I have done a lot of family history research in the past couple of years and have found strong roots in England and more so, in Scotland.
    My husband and I love watching Downton Abbey. We hope to be able to visit Highclere and to see firsthand, the beauty of your home and the beauty that surrounds it. Best wishes for a great book tour!!!!

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Thank you – there is such a strong sense of place, it is a good place to live, I do agree with your comments on lighting, it is so key and I watch with much interest how the lighting is tackled each season here.

  20. Ashley Levi says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,
    Let me be the first to welcome you to Nashville. We are so honored and excited that you agreed to be the Keynote Lecturer at the 2014 Antiques & Garden Show. Congratulations on your new book! Please allow us to show you the charm, hospitality and good taste made famous in Nashville and the South. Above all, allow us to show you a good time! Looking forward to a warm welcome planned for you at Tea this Friday afternoon. See you then. Sincerely, Ashley C. Levi

  21. rosemary says:

    I have looked on line but cannot find your schddule for your book tour, In previous comments you mention Washinton DC. I would love to see you in my city…I enjoyed visiting your home in December and your special visit to our dinner after your arrival home from Syria! So nice of you to take that time with us.

    Please publish the dates and place of your book signing in DC and New Yorkl
    Loved my visit to Highclec and am loving your new book!
    Sincerely Rosemary

  22. Adrianne Brewer says:

    I’m looking forward to seeing you tomorrow in Nashville at the Antiques and Garden Show. My husband and I first heard of Highclere in an article in English Home Magazine. Then we started watching Downton Abbey because we were so interested in your home and its history. Thank you for preserving the castle and sharing the story of the people through your books.

  23. Alicia says:

    Greetings, Lady Carnarvon!

    I am so excited to visit your home from Boston this July! It’s perfectly normal to have purchased these tickets before my flight, yes? I loved your book on Lady Almina and can’t wait to read about Lady Catherine; I do hope you will be in Boston on your book tour! If not, have a wonderful time in the U.S. July can’t come soon enough…


  24. Keeta Kay Cole says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    As you are winding down your book signing tour, perhaps you might plan time to come see our historical small town of Lititz, Pennsylvania situated in the heart of the Pennsylvania Dutch County, home of the Amish, and only a short drive from Washington, DC. If you would like, I would gladly give you and yours a personalized tour of the area. Lititz has Linden Hall, the oldest girl’s boarding school in the US; the first pretzel bakery; the Moravian cemetery where John Sutter of the California Gold Rush fame is buried; Wilbur’s Chocolate, a wonderful chocolate factory; Clair’s and Tait Towers, the world’s premier sound reinforcing and staging companies (think Sir Elton John and Sir Paul McCartney) and last year was designated Budget Travels “Coolest Small Town in the USA”! I realize our history is not as old as your country’s but we are just as eager to show it off. — I look forward to having the opportunity to see your home and land when we visit this July.

  25. Catherine Wood says:

    Enjoyed tea yesterday afternoon (February 9) with you (and 349 of your very closest friends) at the Williamsburg Lodge. Your talk was delightful. Seems as though there is so much history and fun information for you to look over and through when researching your books. Hope you did enjoy your trip to Virginia and in particular Colonial Williamsburg and the Williamsburg Inn. We look forward to “Welcoming you home” for your next visit.

  26. Anne says:

    Hello Lady Fiona Carnavon

    I must say to you that in Finland. Dowton Abbey is very popular TV saries. In 1070´s it was british series TV Upsteries and Downstries. It was popular TV-drama and everyone had sayed that this Dowton Abbey must better TV-drama. Vierwer´s TV drama Dowton Abbey has be popular and renew television. Dowton Abbey is like that you can pop in past times. How and what staff and family do. I is fascinating. It is maybe that in USA and all over world this TV-drama is popular. Take a peek to past times.

  27. jill deal says:

    I had the pleasure of attending the afternoon tea and lecture while you were in Williamsburg…please share your itinersry for my friends in the New york area who would also love to hear your presentation…you were fabulous and the books are a magical glimpse into the Highclere history book…thank you Lady Carnarvon…

  28. Joanie Eckert says:

    I absolutely loved your two books of The Real Downton Abbey. However, I did not want them to end and I was wondering if you are planning to write anymore books leading up to the years that you are now living at Downton. I so much want to read more.

  29. Bee Knight says:

    You are running a large business ..dwellings and farm with a unique set of problems…better than a 5 star hotel…and you call it home with it’s provenance. The mere upkeep on a house alone can be daunting. Here’s to your energy…the warrior class as someone called the titled.
    Being a sort of practical romantic it’s lovely for me to see the surface and beneath it. The A +list for certain.

  30. Nancherrow says:

    As I am one of the American viewers of Downton Abbey, I can say for myself that I am drawn to the history woven into the stories of the television show. As castle living and the aristocracy are forms of life to which I am not privy, I find the it fascinating to get a glimpse into that world. Plus, the stories are engaging and the costuming, divine.

    Happy to have discovered your site and real-life home.


  31. Laura lake says:

    I think a series from your books would be delightful. Laura Lake. Bedford IN us

  32. Maria says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon!
    I am from Russia and I am a great fan of “Downton Abbey”. I am so glad I found your site and I have already got the book. Thanks a lot, I ave a dream now – when my daughter becomes older (she is only one now), I would travel to the Castle with her to show how beautiful it is. And of course I will show her the movie.

  33. Donnelda Boisenberry says:

    I’ve been eating-up Downton Abbey since discovering it this winter, as a way of coping with being away from home for the first time! You can imagine my disappointment when I found that there are no opening dates during my mother’s and my impending trip to England for a wedding in mid-May. None the less, I wanted to reach out to say thank-you, in a sense, for supporting me in recent months! You have a special home!

  34. Catherine from Greece says:

    The secret success of Downton Abbey is Highclere Castle, and not all studio sets and production.
    It has been on Greek TV every Monday evening in the January to April programming and we are now seeing
    the fourth season. But I have already purchased the entire 5 seasons DVDs, so I get to see, and see again
    and again, this delight series..without commercial breaks 🙂
    Also have purchased and read both Lady Almina and Lady Catherine books, your writing is compelling
    and so intertwined with history, that the REAL story is even better than that the TV series 🙂
    I was fortunate to meet you at the April 24 visit, and it was so special, as was the tour and the tea and scones in
    the coach house! Wonderful gifts from the gift shop, and wonderful memories to have as I watch , again, Downtown
    Abbey. Thank you so much , Lady Carnarvon, for all the effort and work it takes to keep Highclere a living history, and home.

  35. Kylie says:

    I just wanted to say that my favourite character of Downton Abbey (besides Anna) is the castle! I dream of coming to visit one day from New Zealand.

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