Blog: ‘Downton Abbey’ castle can’t host big weddings because of Brexit – Insider

  • “Downton Abbey” was filmed at Highclere Castle in southern England.
  • The property used to host large weddings, but NBC News reported it had to stop because of Brexit.
  • Owner Fiona Carnarvon told the outlet there isn’t enough staff for large events after Brexit.
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People planning their dream weddings at the “Downton Abbey” castle may have to rethink their big days.

The beloved series was filmed at Highclere Castle in southern England. The Earl and Countess of Carnarvon, George Reginald Oliver Molyneux Herbert and Fiona Carnarvon, own the castle. Herbert is Queen Elizabeth II’s godson, as Insider previously reported.

Since the show’s success, Highclere became a popular destination for large weddings, according to NBC News.

The outlet reported that Highclere hosted over 25 weddings that had more than 100 guests annually. But Carnarvon told NBC News that’s no longer possible because of Brexit. 

“We have stopped being able to offer any weddings of any substantial size because of Brexit,” Carnarvon said. “There are no staff.”

Carnarvon told NBC that Highclere can still host weddings of around 20 people, but those events are pricey to run and don’t account for nearly as much business as large weddings did for the estate. The owner said 40% of Highclere’s business came from weddings before Brexit and the pandemic.

Lady Fiona Carnarvon, owner of Highclere Castle, poses for a photograph at the castle in Highclere, southern England, on May 12, 2016.

NIKLAS HALLE’N/AFP via Getty Images

Carnarvon told the outlet that citizens from the European Union studying at universities in the United Kingdom were a huge source of event staff for Highclere, and following Brexit, that staff just doesn’t exist anymore.

“When we go to our usual agencies and try to find people, they are not there,” she went on to tell NBC. 

According to a report from Higher Education Student Statistics, the number of EU students who attended university in the UK dropped by 53% after Brexit. The study also noted that EU students had to pay far more in tuition at UK institutions after Brexit, with fees jumping from £9,000 to £38,000, or about $10,842 to $45,778. 

The UK has a points-based immigration system post-Brexit, as Insider previously reported, and it implemented new restrictions on immigration following its departure from the EU. Some of those restrictions have since been relaxed, but the restrictions around work visas for hospitality jobs are still tight, according to NBC

Carnarvon also told NBC that Highclere no longer offers afternoon teas because of the staffing shortages, and it’s losing money from its gift shop because it’s too expensive to send items to EU countries as a result of Brexit. 

“We are wrapped in red tape now in every piece of our business,” she told NBC.

If you were planning a large wedding at Highclere Castle and had to cancel your event, get in touch at

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