Inside the real Downton Abbey: Take a tour of Highclere Castle

Now this is what we call a perfect period property!

Downton Abbey the movie hits cinemas in the UK on Friday September 13th, and we couldn't be more excited for the return of Crawley family and their entourage of 'below stairs' staff.

Related: Skeynes Park could be perfect location to film Downton Abbey

To celebrate we're taking you on a house tour of the magnificent Highclere Castle, the impressive country home of the Earl & Countess of Carnarvon, and the filming location for the hit period drama.

The beautiful period property is set in 5,000 acres of grounds and can be found in Hampshire, around five miles south of Newbury, and looks just as stunning on the inside as it does on the outside.

Highclere Castle

castle with arched doorways brown walls and grass lawn

(Image credit: TBC)

As the hugely popular period drama makes the leap from series to box office sensation we take a sneak peek behind its doors...

The Saloon

Fashioned in a gothic style, the saloon is framed by imposing arches and features leather wall coverings, brought back by the 3rd Earl in Spain in 1631, before finally being hung centuries later in 1862.

A high-glazed ceiling and gallery space make this space an ideal setting for both pre-dinner and after-dinner entertainment for guests.

The North Library

The ideal place to sit back, relax and read through your favourite tomes. The double library is home to 5,650 books, the earliest dating back to the 16th Century, and will be recognised by Downton fans as the backdrop to many dramatic scenes in the series, including those featuring the late Matthew Crawley. It also looks out onto the castle's immaculate south lawns.

Seen from another perspective the decorative columns and ornate ceiling reflect Highclere's architect Charles Barry's love of Italian renaissance architecture.

Monks Garden

Taking its name from the Bishops of Winchester – who owned the Estate for 800 years before the Carnarvon family – this pretty garden is home to climbing lavender, while penstemons, agapanthus, geranium and climbing roses add to the riot of colour. Peaches, nectarines and Tea roses can also be found in the glass house.

Stanhope bedroom

A homage to red, this sumptuous bedroom was decorated for Kind Edward VII (king from 1901 until his death in 1910) and exemplifies the Edwardian interior style made popular during his reign. Another nod to this is the pale panelled ceilings. In the series it was the Turkish emissary's bedroom, then Martha Levinson's (The Countess of Grantham's mother), then Lady Anstruther's (the widow of Lord Anstruther and former employer of footman James Kent).

The dining room

The stunning Highclere dining room is decorated with warm yellow silks and is dominated by a large equestrian portrait of King Charles I.

The drawing room

A south facing room decorated in the 'rocco revival' style, the French green silk wall hangings are based on a similar silk decorating a room in the Palace of Versailles.

Which is your favourite space at Highclere Castle?