Downton Abbey: Shirley Maclaine thinks Highclere Castle is haunted!

by Anna Howell

Oscar winning actress, Shirley MacLaine has revealed that she believes the estate where Downton Abbey is filmed, Highclere Castle, is haunted!

Shirley, who made her Downton debut last series playing the modernised mother of Lady Cora (Elizabeth McGovern), Martha Levinson, believes that the spirits behind the hauntings come from a curse placed on the castle by Egyptian pharaoh King Tutankhamun.

According to Wikipedia, Highclere Castle, located in Hampshire, is a country house in the Jacobethan style, with park designed by Capability Brown. The 1,000 acre estate is in Hampshire, England, about 5 miles south of Newbury. It is the country seat of the Earl of Carnarvon, a branch of the Anglo-Welsh Herbert family.
The estate stands on the site of an earlier house, which was built on the foundations of the medieval palace of the Bishops of Winchester, who owned this estate from the 8th century. The original site was recorded in the Domesday Book. Since 1679, the castle has been home to the Carnarvon family.

In 1692, Robert Sawyer, a lawyer and college friend of Samuel Pepys, bequeathed a mansion at Highclere to his only daughter, Margaret, the first wife of the 8th Earl of Pembroke. Their second son, Robert Sawyer Herbert, inherited Highclere, began its picture collection and created the garden temples. His nephew and heir Henry Herbert was created Baron Porchester and 1st Earl of Carnarvon by King George III.

As well as being one of the main features of Downton, the exterior also appeared as Lord Graves’s house in the film King Ralph as well as the castle’s saloon appearing in the film The Four Feathers starring Heath Ledger.

Its other credits include:

John Legend’s 2006 music video for Heaven Only Knows features the castle.

Totleigh Towers, in the TV version of Jeeves and Wooster, was represented by Highclere Castle.

Shots from both the interior and exterior were used as the imposing Mistlethwaite Manor in the Hallmark Hall of Fame’s 1987 version of The Secret Garden.

The saloon provided a main interior location for Stanley Kubrick’s final film, Eyes Wide Shut

It was portrayed as the home of the 23rd Earl of Leete in Jim Broadbent and Mike Leigh’s 1992 mock biopic “A Sense of History”.

It was seen as the home of a wealthy Englishman that Mr. Fortescue visited seeking money in the 1982 film starring Michael Palin, The Missionary.

Of her beliefs, spiritualist MacLaine said:

“Highclere was haunted.

“The energy of the castle, grounds, past and the hauntings was inspiring. I am very much into that stuff.”

Watch John Legend’s music video featuring the spooky Highclere Castle in the clip below: