By David Stewart White
At the moment, Highclere Castle may be one of Britain's most recognizable great houses. The wildly popular Downton Abbey television series is filmed at Highclere and tourists are flocking to the castle nestled in the Berkshire countryside 60 miles west of London.
Highclere's fame follows that of other British masterpieces. Castle Howard spent time in the spotlight as the location for two versions of Brideshead Revisted; Harry Potter created magic at Alnwick Castle; Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice graced Chatsworth House ; James Bond dropped in on Buckingham Palace to promote Skyfall; Sherlock is all over modern-day London; and who knows where Dr. Who will pop up as that long-running series continues.
Even the very French-themed Les Misérables boasts a long list of British film locations including Winchester's famous cathedral and college.
Set-jetting—tourism to filming locations—is big business in Britain. There is no place better to witness the phenominon that at Highclere. Arguably at its peak of popularity as season 4 of Downton Abbey is about to being filmed, visiting Highclere Castle requires advance planning. The site is closed during filming and tickets go quickly when the house is open to visitors. Advice to Downton tourists: plan ahead.