8 Stunning U.K. Estates That Are Even Better Than Downton Abbey

Admit it. At this point, you're watching Downton Abbey more for the property porn than whatever is going on in Lady Mary's bedroom. That staircase, that wainscoting, those gardens... it's almost as exciting as finding a handsome Turkish man in your boudoir.
Of course, you can see all this in the flesh with a visit to Highclere Castle, where the ITV drama is filmed. But, that's assuming you don't mind waiting until 2015 and navigating a very tricky booking process. Just because George Clooney can get through the door doesn't mean you can.
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While you're biding your time, why not consider one of the many other equally stunning historical homes England has to offer? They've got the opulent ballrooms and the drafty kitchens. They've got gardens and flowers you can Instagram. And, yes, they've all been used as filming locations, so you can brag to your friends and swan about, pretending to be Elizabeth Bennett, 007, or (no judgment) Neville Longbottom.
One warning: Returning to your poky flat in E3 is going to be a huge buzzkill.


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Photo: Courtesy of Blenheim Palace.
Blenheim Palace

Where You've Seen It: Entrapment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Barry Lyndon, The Young Victoria, The Libertine

Countless films have used this sprawling estate as a location — and countless tourists have simply used it for an incredible day out. You can stroll the gardens, have a spot of fishing, take a photography course, or just gawk at the stunning 18th-century decor.

Blenheim Palace, Woodstock, Oxfordshire; 0800 849 6500.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stoke Park.
Stoke Park

Where You've Seen It: Layer Cake, Goldfinger, Tomorrow Never Dies

This luxury golf club and hotel is a familiar sight to any 007 fan, past or present. This is where Sean Connery's Bond played golf with Goldfinger and Oddjob; later on, Pierce Brosnan returned to film portions of Tomorrow Never Dies. And, yes, even Daniel Craig has been here, albeit on non-Bond duties. This Buckingham estate also took part in an important scene in 2004's Layer Cake.

Stoke Park, Park Road, Stoke Poges, Buckinghamshire; 017 5371 7171.
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Photo: Courtesy of Wrotham Park.
Wrotham Park

Where You've Seen It: Gosford Park, Vanity Fair, Jane Eyre (2011), The Hour, Bridget Jones's Diary

Though it's not open to the public, this Palladian mansion in Hertfordshire can be hired for special events. Just ask Simon Cowell, who celebrated his 50th birthday on the 2,500-acre estate. And, despite what Gosford Park may have led you to believe, neither smoking nor murder is allowed.

Wrotham Park, Barnet, Hertfordshire; 020 8441 0755.
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Photo: Courtesy of Mike Kipling for Castle Howard.
Castle Howard

Where You've Seen It: Brideshead Revisited, Death Comes to Pemberley

Head north for the ultimate in real estate #FOMO. This 18th-century estate boasts 1,000 acres and a house that puts the "grand" in "grandeur." Walking tours, shops and cafes, and even holiday homes await.

Castle Howard, York; 016 5364 8333.
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Photo: Courtesy of Alnwick Castle.
Alnwick Castle

Where You've Seen It: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves

Brace yourselves, kids. Yes, this awe-inducing castle did "play" Hogwarts in the first two Harry Potter films. While you take in the lush gardens and gorgeous surroundings, kids can have a go at archery lessons and knight games.

Alnwick Castle, Alnwick, Northumberland; 016 6551 1100.
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Photo: Courtesy of Stokesay Court.
Stokesay Court

Where You've Seen It: Atonement

Much like "Downton," this estate doubled as a military hospital during the Great War. The house dates back to the late 19th century, and set the scene for Keira Knightley and James McAvoy's romance in the 2006 film Atonement.

Stokesay Court, Onibury, Shropshire; 015 8485 6238.
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Photo: Courtesy of Cliveden House.
Cliveden House

Where You've Seen It: Help!, Chaplin, Sherlock Holmes

A spa, a maze, themed gardens, afternoon tea, boat trips... can you say "dreamy"? This 375-acre estate/luxury hotel offers every amenity imaginable. It also used to be the home of socialite Nancy Astor — so you best raise that pinky when sipping your tea.

Cliveden House, Taplow, Berkshire; 016 2860 7107.
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Photo: Courtesy of Chatsworth House
Chatsworth House

Where You've Seen It: The Duchess, Pride & Prejudice

If Mr. Darcy won't come to you, then you come to Mr. Darcy. This Peak District estate doubles as his Pemberley home. Indeed, the 35,000-acre estate has plenty to swoon over, including gardens and Christmas festivities.

Chatsworth House, Bakewell, Derbyshire; 012 4656 5300.
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