If you’re a Downton Abbey fan (and we are big time), you won’t want to miss seeing the “real Downton Abbey” the next time you visit London. Highclere Castle is the real-life inspiration and setting for the popular Emmy-award winning show. Since 1679, the Carnarvon family have lived in the castle (keep a lookout for the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon when you visit). The beautiful Victorian castle is located in Hampshire about 90 minutes (depending on traffic) from London (see Google map) – after watching the TV show, we were curious exactly where Downton Abbey was located in relation to London, so we added the map with the castle location highlighted.
Highclere Castle is open to the public for only a few days each month.
Here are three options to see Downton Abbey: Group Tour, Private Tour or Self-Guided Tour (rent a car and drive yourself):
Step back in history and take a self-guided tour of Ruislip – it makes a great day trip from London. If you’re a history buff and find yourself with a free morning or afternoon to spare, hop on the tube (underground) and take the Metropolitan or Piccadilly line to the charming little town of Ruislip – about 45 minutes from the heart of London. What makes Ruislip so unique is its historical significance – it dates back to 1086. (It’s also very special to us – it’s my hometown, my family lives there and it’s where Barry and I were married).
A little Ruislip history:
Prior to 1066 – legend has it that Ruislip belonged to a Saxon landowner
1066 – following the Norman Conquest in 1066, the land was seized and given to the Lord of the Manor
1087-1404 – Ruislip was granted to the Abbey of Bec
1085 – William the Conqueror ordered a survey be put together featuring an inventory of the land in England
1086 – Information recorded in the Domesday Book provided the first written reference to Ruislip
The original name of Ruislip (pronounced Rice-lip) comes from two Old English words: “ryse” (rush) and “hlype” (leap), meaning “leaping place across a river where rushes grow.”
We just added this new Celebrity Tour of London to the top of our “must-do” list the next time we’re traveling across the pond to visit our family. The celebrity walking tour takes you to parts of London that you’d never normally visit as a tourist — or as a local for that matter. And if you’re like us (movie buffs) and love celebrity trivia (reading People magazine is one of my guilty pleasures), this is one London tour that you won’t want to miss. We’ve taken celebrity tours in New York City and Los Angeles and they were fantastic – it’s always fun to see how the other half live and play.
The Magna Carta
May 7 – June 5, 2011
Don’t miss seeing the Magna Carta (Great Charter of English Liberties) – one of the most important legal documents in the history of democracy – on display now for a limited time only at San Francisco’s Legion of Honor as part of BritWeek 2011. It’s the first public display on this continent in its nearly 800-year history (it was in the U.S. twice before, both times for private events only).
As mentioned in previous blogs, I’m so excited about the upcoming Royal Wedding – I’ve definitely got Royal Wedding Fever! For all of you (and anyone you know) who just can’t get enough of the royals, we’ve found Official Royal Gifts and souvenirs, including an exclusive “must-have” Royal Wedding DVD.
The countdown begins for what has been dubbed the “wedding of the century.” And we can’t wait!
The Royal Wedding takes place on Friday, April 29, 2011 at 11am (London time) at Westminster Abbey. As a fellow Brit, I’ll be getting up at the crack of dawn (just like I did for Princess Diana’s wedding) to watch the royal nuptials take place. The service starts at 3am San Francisco time (6am East Coast time), but hey… if we can’t be there in person, this is the next best thing. Luckily Barry’s an early riser so he’ll be there to keep me company and make sure we get our tea/coffee fix to see us through the morning. We were in London for Prince Andrew’s wedding and still remember standing along the Mall for 8 hours to catch a glimpse of the Royal Carriage – and a little later, the Prince and his bride Fergie waving to the crowds from the balcony of Buckingham Palace. It was such a special moment. And this Royal Wedding is going to be even more magical – as Prince William, the future King of England, marries his true love, Kate Middleton. I’m sure Princess Diana will be looking down and smiling 🙂
Saturday, June 12 – USA vs England – FREE World Cup Viewing Event in SF
Don’t miss this exciting match between the USA and England on Saturday, June 12 at 11:30am PST. You can watch the game at home on your new HDTV, or if you are in the SF Bay Area, you can go to the FREE event at AT&T Park in San Francisco that day.
It’s the first competitive meeting between the U.S. and England since the 1-0 American upset in the first round of the 1950 World Cup, so it’s sure to be a very exciting game. England, the country that invented soccer and has one of the top pro
leagues in the world, hasn’t won the Cup since 1966.