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Inspired by Downton Abbey: 7 Great English-Style Estates

In honor of the film premiere of Downton Abbey this month, Luxury Defined presents a collection of great estates in the English tradition

The year is 1927. A royal visit by George V and Queen Mary looms over a grand country estate, complicating the lives of its residents, the Crawley family and their servants. That’s the hook for Downton Abbey—the motion picture event—which debuts this September. Like the acclaimed television drama that inspired it, Downton Abbey sets its characters against the socio-political turmoil of post-Edwardian England between the wars. For many fans, though, the real star of Downton Abbey is the great house itself, portrayed by the magnificent Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England. The 5,000-acre estate, designed by architect Sir Charles Barry, with gardens by landscape architect Capability Brown, was modeled after Wollaton, an Elizabethan castle in Nottinghamshire.

Credit Jaap Buitendijk © 2019 Focus Features, LLC

Herewith, Luxury Defined proffers a collection of great and grand homes in the English tradition. Consider Hackwood Park, a country seat of British nobility whose notable guests have included Jane Austen and Sir Winston Churchill, or look to Mamhead House in Devon, once described as one of the finest houses in the South of England; Fedamore House, a Georgian manor in County Limerick, Ireland; or Darlington, a Jacobean mansion in Mahwah, New Jersey. Step through these imposing doors and into the poignant elegance of a bygone era.

Hackwood Park in Hampshire, England

Hackwood Park is a magnificent 260-acre estate in the heart of the Hampshire countryside. The country seat of British nobility for centuries, its guests have included Jane Austen and Sir Winston Churchill.

This historic estate tells the story of England, through its incarnation from royal deer park to grand aristocratic residence. Less than an hour from London, Hackwood Park commands majestic views of the countryside from its own Grade I-listed 260-acre demesne. The Victorian periodical Ackermann’s Repository called the interiors of Hackwood House “spacious and magnificent, and peculiarly adapted for comfort as well as display.” The quality of the craftsmanship is evident throughout, from the Grinling Gibbons carvings in the libraries and salon to the remodeling of the central hall by John Vardy. Hackwood’s Grade I-listed grounds are as much a national treasure as the Grade II*-listed mansion house. The formal gardens, designed in the 18th-century by celebrated landscape architect Charles Bridgeman, are further complemented by a deer park, pasture, and ancient woodland. The estate also includes the Grade II-listed stables and coach house, and four estate cottages.

Green Gables in Woodside, California

In the heart of Silicon Valley, Green Gables is a historic, ultimately private 74-acre estate with an unparalleled breadth of homes, natural habitats, and lands for enjoyment, relaxation, and development.
This aerial view of Green Gables dramatizes its expansive grounds, which are dominated by the main house and Roman pool, center.

Green Gables is an extraordinary estate of 74 acres that has remained intact since its inception in 1911. The creation of businessman and banker Mortimer Fleishhacker, the heart of Green Gables is the magnificent main residence and gardens. Charles Sumner Greene and Henry Mather Greene designed the main house. Many of the architectural details pay homage to England’s Arts and Crafts style. In order to replicate the emblematic thatched roof seen in the English countryside, yet be true to the California setting, native redwood shingles were individually steamed and bent to form thatches. The interiors feature original furnishings selected and designed by famed New York interior decorator Elsie de Wolfe. The estate includes six additional dwellings, each nestled in its own private setting, as well as three swimming pools and a tennis court. Green Gables is celebrated for its expansive grounds, which are a mix of formal gardens and natural woodlands. Of particular note is the Camperdown Elm Allée, a striking avenue of meticulously pruned trees. The property has long been a gathering place for European royalty, politicians, business leaders, and creative luminaries. Today, Green Gables offers an unparalleled breadth of homes, natural habitats, and lands for enjoyment, relaxation, and development in the heart of Silicon Valley.

Mamhead House in Devon, England

Mamhead House was first mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. This great estate on the Devon coast has subsequently passed through the hands of several members of the nobility, including the first Earl of Lisburne.
The Grade I-listed Gothic Revival Mamhead House and the Grade II*-listed Mamhead Castle were designed by noted architect Anthony Salvin in 1833. The estate’s 164-acre grounds comprise landscaped gardens, parkland, and ancient woodland.

Mamhead House has been described as one of the finest houses in the South of England. This 164-acre estate in Devon’s Haldon Hills was designed by noted architect Anthony Salvin in 1833. The property comprises the Grade I-listed Gothic Revival Mamhead House, built of mellow Bath stone, and the Grade II*-listed Mamhead Castle, a replica of the 14th-century Belsay Castle in Northumberland. The baronial red-sandstone castle has been modernized and laid out as six office suites. The great Mamhead House features five principal reception rooms, five additional receiving rooms, galleried halls, and two kitchens. The accommodations are extensive: 16 bedrooms and eight bathrooms, and an attic with a further 11 bedrooms and two bathrooms. Mamhead’s formal grounds were based on a design by Capability Brown, who charged then owner the first Earl of Lisburne £105 for his plans for improving the park. Italian terraces and a beautiful sunken garden are framed by a backdrop of azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons, offering stunning views over the estate’s wider parkland, woodland, and open agricultural land to the East Devon coast and the promontory of Portland Bill.

Darlington Mansion in Mahwah, New Jersey

Originally built in 1907 and meticulously renovated in the last seven years, Darlington Mansion in Mahwah, New Jersey, was modeled on Bramshill House in Hampshire, one of England’s greatest “prodigy houses.”
The 58-room, three-story mansion is surrounded by more than 12 acres of marvelous grounds overlooking New Jersey’s Ramapo Mountains.

Darlington Mansion is an architectural masterpiece located within 25 miles of New York City, offering approximately 50,000 square feet of spectacular living space and more than 12 acres of marvelous grounds framed by the Ramapo Mountains. The 58-room, three-story mansion that today is listed with both the National Register of Historic Places and the New Jersey Register of Historic Places was the dream of George Crocker, son of railroad magnate Charles Crocker. He commissioned renowned architects James Brite and Henry Bacon to model Darlington on Bramshill House in Hampshire, one of England’s greatest “prodigy houses.” During the last seven years, the mansion has been completely renovated, retaining all of its original architectural splendor. All mechanical systems were replaced, all bathrooms were rebuilt, and a new living area of 12,000 square feet was added. The renovation project employed the world’s most talented wood carvers (whose works include the Italian Parliament as well as the Ritz-Carlton and Waldorf-Astoria in New York City) and top designers to bring the mansion into the 21st century.

Fedamore House in County Limerick, Ireland

Built in 1880, Fedamore House has been impeccably restored and extended into the Georgian-inspired masterpiece it is today.
Fedamore House is set within 16 acres of glorious gardens and parkland in County Limerick, just 30 minutes from Shannon International Airport and 20 minutes from the prestigious Adare Manor hotel and golf resort.

Built circa-1880 in the Neoclassical tradition, Fedamore House is set within 16 acres of parkland with formal gardens, woodlands, and serene nature trails. In the last 15 years, the original manor house has been lavishly restored and extended with two new wings designed around an enclosed garden courtyard. Behind the imposing Georgian-inspired stone façade is a light, airy interior of style, elegance, and grace. The 25,000-square-foot interior features three reception rooms, a library, game room, gym, sauna, Jacuzzi, and indoor pool. The private quarters comprise a pair of luxurious master bedroom suites and six en suite bedrooms. The lower-ground level houses a cinema and six interconnecting internal garages. The estate also includes two newly built gate lodges at the entrance, a studio for entertaining, a floodlit Astroturf pitch, staff quarters, and several outbuildings. Fedamore House is within 30 minutes’ drive of Shannon International Airport and the prestigious Adare Manor five-star resort and golf club.

English-Inspired Manor in Asheville, North Carolina

The Edwardian architecture and parklike setting of this North Carolina estate are reminiscent of the grand country houses of England.
Built in 1925, the stately main house has been restored and updated for the 21st century. The living spaces include a family parlor with a beautiful gilded ceiling and wood-burning fireplace.

The grand country houses of England live on in this North Carolina manor. Built in 1925, the stately main house underwent extensive renovations, preserving the elegant period details while adding modern conveniences. The residence offers more than 8,000 square feet of grandly scaled living areas with six bedrooms, five full bathrooms, and one half bathroom. The reception hall creates a dramatic first impression with its oak floors, crystal chandelier, and handcrafted wooden staircase. Farther along is the formal, wood-panelled dining room, which is served by a thoroughly modern kitchen equipped with Viking appliances. The family parlor features a beautiful gilded ceiling and opens to a stone terrace. Beyond are nearly three acres of private, wooded parkland with wide lawns, walled gardens, and a grotto. There are several ancillary structures, including a carriage house with guest quarters and a three-bay garage. The estate has an ultimately private setting in Lake View Park, just 10 minutes’ drive from the historic heart of downtown Asheville.

Morrow Mansion in Salem, Oregon

Morrow Mansion, a palatial manor house on nearly 9.5 acres of formal grounds in the heart of Oregon Wine Country, faithfully recreates the grandeur of a bygone era.
The estate’s picturesque landscaped gardens offer breathtaking views of Oregon’s Willamette Valley.

Encompassing nearly 9.5 acres, just south of Salem, Oregon, this palatial estate combines Old World elegance with contemporary resort amenities. Iron gates open to a long, hedge-lined drive to arrive at a circular forecourt with a four-tiered fountain. The 21,000-square-foot mansion is graced with architectural symmetry and handcrafted details throughout. The centerpiece of the home is the two-story marble foyer, with monumental chandeliers and double sweeping staircase. It is flanked by east and west wings. The east wing includes a formal living room, library, billiards room, and two guest apartments. The west wing houses the formal dining room, kitchen, family room, game room, gift-wrapping room, and an atrium with heated pool and spa. The two upper floors house six en suite bedrooms, a one-bedroom apartment, fitness center, and party room with bar and dance floor. The estate’s picturesque formal grounds, elegantly landscaped with verdant lawns, topiaries, rose gardens, multi-tiered terraces, stairways, and water features, were designed to mirror the Neoclassical order of the main house.