Ever since it first premiered on TV in 2011, 'Downton Abbey' put forth a new fantasy for viewers all around the world. It inspired a wave of nostalgia for the old-school British aristocracy, a love for classic Edwardian and Georgian elegance, and a new fascination for the former posh lifestyle. Suddenly, many fantasized about sauntering about in ballgowns or looking spiffy in waist coats, as well as, of course, living in a grand mansion. Although the rich and famous in the UK today no longer live in such opulence, these mansions, manors, and palaces still stand as a grand reminder of that time.
Blenheim Palace, Oxfordshire
Although the actual mansion that was set as 'Downton Abbey' is Highclere Castle in West Berkshire, many can easily mistake the beautiful Blenheim Palace in Oxfordshire as the same place. Built by the 1st Duke of Marlborough, John Churchill, it displayed the very best of English Baroque architecture. There's a geometrical severity to the design that showcased its regalness in a vert forward sort of way. Even from a mile away, one can already sense the opulent beauty that this place displayed. No wonder it's become a UNESCO World Heritage
site! As well as the only non-royal home in the English countryside
to be considered as a palace.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ DeFacto
Burghley House, Lincolnshire
Looking more like a grand palace than a mere countryside mansion, the Burghley House in Lincolnshire is among the most opulent on this list. From a fair distance away, one can already see its most fascinating features: the Moorish-like domes that topped the various towers of the estate. Although the rest of the home featured a distinctly Gothic appeal, the domes interestingly felt disconnected from the rest of the overall aesthetic. If you imagined it by way of Disney films
, it was as if the architect combined Cinderella's castle with Aladdin's palace. How's that for a convergence of different styles?
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Airwolfhound
Castle Howard, North Yorkshire
From the get-go, one can already tell that Castle Howard in North Yorkshire took an entire century to build. Although it served as the home of the prestigious Howard family for generations it looked more like an imperial palace. Stylistically speaking, one can't help but compare the place to that of the United States Capitol building in Washington D.C., From the placement of the top dome to the symmetric harmony of the front facade, it's almost as if the two historic sites took inspiration from one another. However, the surrounding lush gardens and the signature UK cold climate made the castle undeniably British.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ John Robinson
Chatsworth House, Derbyshire
If not for the fact that 'Downton Abbey'' used Highclere Castle as its backdrop, the Chatsworth House in Derbyshire would have been the most famous non-royal mansion in the UK. After all, it was famously featured in the 2005 period film, 'Pride and Prejudice' starring Keira Knightley, Matthew Macfadyen, Rosamund Pike, and Judi Dench. The prominent house, beloved for its perfectly precise and symmetric rectangular architecture, played the home of one Mr. Darcy when Elizabeth Bennet traveled the English countryside near the climax of the film. It's thanks to these short but visually impactful scenes that Chatsworth House became a top tourist attraction in Derbyshire.
Source: Wikimedia Commons
Kenwood House, London
Despite their opulence and majesty, UK mansions tend to look the same. Particularly when it comes to color schemes. Many of the grand homes listed thus far featured rustic neutral tones, most probably as a result of their old age. Very rarely will you see a manor in a different hue, but they do exist. One good example is Kenwood House in London. This particular mansion stands out for its stark white rendering, displaying a cleaner sense of preservation. One can almost compare it to the White House in the US, and in many ways, both structures do bear a lot of similarities.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ MrsEllacott
Another notably differently-hued UK home is the famous Sandringham mansion in Norfolk. Apart from the sandy complexion that the other grand homes show off, this one is decidedly redder than the rest. Though it also evokes. rustic appeal, the red brick facade helps it stand out against all the other opulent mansions. It's no wonder the current monarch, Queen Elizabeth II, has made it her private residential home for years. Although she probably spends most of her time in Buckingham Palace
, she likely considers the Sandringham mansion as her home sweet home.
Source: Flickr.com/ John Fielding
Wimpole Hall, Cambridgeshire
The Sandringham mansion in Norfolk isn't the only one on this list with a red-brick exterior. There's also Wimpole Hall in Cambridgeshire! A rather stately home with well-manicured gardens and a fresh English countryside appeal, its grandiose isn't lost on those lucky enough to see it in person. Since the estate is large, one can't help but feel the history and heritage of the place upon entering, even more so when one sees the brooding environment in its interior. From grand ballrooms to spacious libraries, you can tell that many prominent figures once walked these halls.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ AnemoneProjectors
Wollaton Hall, Nottingham
Another hall worth including on this list is Wollaton Hall in the beautiful city of Nottingham
. Although this place looks as grandiose as all the others, its more modest size makes it seem a lot humbler. The English Baroque architecture displayed its regality for all the world to see, but when compared to other stately homes, it's clear this one isn't as opulent. But that wasn't what made this home such an attraction in the first place. It's the lush greeneries and beautiful forested lands that surround the home that attract the tourists. You can't help but feel as free as a bird as you roam around in this lavish estate.
Source: Wikimedia Commons/ Lee Haywood
If watching 'Downton Abbey' has you falling in love with grand mansions and opulent homes, you'll be pleasantly surprised to find out that the UK has a ton more than what's seen on the show. These are just some worth visiting if you ever get lucky to go here!
Though it's not exactly as grand as these UK mansions, getting a luxury home
to call home would make you feel as wealthy and as noble as those who've lived in these historic places!