We invite you to journey as one of our guests on an exclusive evening at Downton Abbey.
With a soft thud it arrives, at long last, a thick, red-lined envelope. Inside holds your guilt-edged invitation to dinner at the actual Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle. This storybook, or should I say film set, experience is one you have been dreaming of since it was first mentioned. Going back in time to a night at the very height of 1920’s society.
The journey begins in a plush 5-star hotel, privately checked in by our own Mrs Hughes, Mrs Emma Wellstead. Such relief having Mrs Wellstead taking care of your evening, no small detail can possibly escape her knowing gaze! Upon checking-in and receiving your key, you receive a welcome note from your host and a tin of Mrs Patmore’s iced shortbread biscuits (perfect with a cup of tea).
The late afternoon is reserved for you to recuperate your energy and prepare for your evening. You are politely requested to meet in the foyer at 6:30 promptly.
You are guided to a well-appointed vehicle; travelling in luxury to Highclere Castle, whilst the music from Downton Abbey gently resonates from the speakers. Timed to perfection you arrive as the sun softly sets. You catch your breath as you first see the famous castle, illuminated in the fading light. The crunch of gravel sounds so familiar as you walk up to the front doors, held wide open. You take in the magnificent sight and you are struck with the intangible feeling of actually being at Downton Abbey.
You walk into the Great Hall and have your first sight of the inside of the castle. To your right you see the famous staircase which saw the grand descents of many Crawley family members. As you look up, you can see the intricately carved, Gothic style gallery.
To the left is a cloak room and guests are instructed to hand their coats to the chirpy, neatly dressed maid who presents you with a ‘personalised’ coat receipt. You receive ‘Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham’ and chuckle at your colleague who has been given ‘Molesley’. You move forward into the Great Hall to where footmen are lined, smart in their tails, holding silver trays of flutes of fizzing, light honey champagne and delicate canapés to whet your appetite.
While guests mingle a professional photographer is quietly clicking away photos in the background, immortalising the night. You pause to take a photo on that memorable staircase.
Entertainment is by the Tin Pan Allies, who set the scene with their flat caps and country tweed, playing modern tunes in a 1920’s jazz style.
Our Mrs Hughes has arrived early and is keeping a careful eye on the night. She sees that it runs like clockwork, that every element has her own special finesse.
While the Crawley family are sadly unable to greet guests the fabulous Lady Carnavon graciously descends the stairs to greet you before retiring for the night and introduces guests to two of her knowledgeable staff. They take you on a tour of the State Rooms and the bedrooms, telling you the history of both Highclere and the filming of Downton Abbey.
At 8:30 Highclere’s ‘Mr Carson’, Luis, strikes the gong, inviting guests to dinner. In the dining room you are met with an opulant table, covered with a heavy cream tablecloth, and laid with shining silver cutlery, cut glass crystal glasses and beautiful fresh floral centre pieces. The walls are adorned with old artwork, Van Dyke’s mammoth portrait of Charles I above the head of the table. The room is warmly lit with candles in silver candelabras.
As waiters in tails bring in the first course (serving from the right of course!) you sip your wine and gaze round at the room you have seen portrayed on television so often. You resist the urge to pinch yourself as you half expect Lady Mary Crawley to flounce through the door and command the dinner party.
While expertly crafted seasonal food makes its way up from the kitchens it is not hard to imagine Daisy and the other maids hiding on the top of the servants stairs, trying to catch glimpses of the new, glamorous party in the dining room.
After dinner you are invited to retire to the library for petit fours, coffee and liqueurs. The Tin Pan Allies strike up with more toe-tapping tunes once again and you settle into the red velvet high backed chair which the Dowager Countess of Grantham favoured. The beautiful gold-tinted library with its shelves of ancient tomes make a surreal setting for comfortable post-dinner conversations.
Finally, after a lavish evening in probably the most famous (and favourite) of British country homes, your chauffeur announces the return to the comforts of the hotel.
You make your way back out of Downton Abbey, through the gold touched library, into the Great Hall, your eyes combing over the details again for the last time, the luxurious room is so familiar yet it is the first time you have been here. Bittersweet goodbyes of a beautiful evening as you make your way back out of the front doors, but before you alight the vehicle, you turn and can see Highclere castle, silhouetted against the dark night.
You arrive back to your hotel room, the soft bed calling. Awaiting your return is the final touch of the evening, a treat of handmade, artisan chocolates on your pillow, the perfect cap to a perfect night.
For now sleep, there is a grand English breakfast awaiting you in the morning and it has been a long, wonderful night.
“Emma, wanted to say a big thank you to you and Steph for once again exceeding people’s expectations with one of your events. I think Warwick Events are unique in both the ideas they come up with and the way they run an event.
I wish you all great success in the future and once again, thanks so much.”Managing Director, a Fortune 500 top 25 company
To get you in the mood, check out the official trailer below