A few days before the long-awaited premiere of "Downton Abbey", the movie that brings back the characters from the famous and beloved television series, fans from around the world continue to arrive at Highclere Castle, where the scenes were rounds.
Before being a movie, which will premiere on September 13 in the UK and a week later in Portugal, "Downton Abbey" was a six-season television series that plunged the viewer into the intimacy of a family of English aristocrats and their employees. in the early twentieth century, passionate audiences beyond British borders.
Wearing a vintage dress, fan Yifan Gao reclines elegantly in a tree, with the majestic Highclere castle in the background.
With friends Yugi Zeng and Jiaxin Ren, a 25-year-old Chinese girl who studies in Edinburgh (Scotland), traveled six hours by train to London and then took another two hours to visit the castle, where a special weekend was organized. Abbey ".
"We planned this two months ago," explains the young woman excitedly.
"In China, everyone my age knows 'Downton Abbey'. I saw her to improve my English," he added.
Like these three young women, many visitors came in 1920s fashion clothes, long dresses and ribbons and feathers for women, three-piece suits and bow ties for men.
The program of the day includes charleston classes, the best costume contest or walks through the beautiful park, by the great master of English gardens, Lancelot "Capability" Brown.
But everyone mostly hopes to be in the shoes of their favorite fictional aristocrats, crossing the reception room, admiring the majestic oak staircase, or discovering the rooms where servants meet to exchange confidences.
"It looks so familiar, it's like we've been here," comments Daniel Bissler, a 70-year-old Californian, in a light blue and white striped suit and a bow tie in UK colors.
The series, first broadcast in the United Kingdom in 2010, begins against the backdrop of the wreckage of the "Titanic" in 1912 and ends in late 1925, with the decline of the English aristocracy beginning.
"It captures a very particular era of English history, with the working class and women fighting for their rights," explains Shayane Lacey, 24, a London-based fan, who went with her mother Roya, 54, Know the location.
Among the hundreds of visitors, 33-year-old Chicago-born Emily Dickmann was "almost moved" to see "live" the room of Lady Sybil, one of the saga's heroines.
"I think Americans have been a little obsessed with the English for a long time, and that fascinates us," she says.
The eighth Earl of Carnarvon, whose grandmother discovered, with British archaeologist Howard Carter, the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922, currently lives in the castle with his wife.
In the series, created by Julian Fellowes, a large number of employees are represented.
"In fact, at the beginning of the 20th century there were a lot of people working here," Lord Carnarvon tells AFP, citing 20 gardeners and 16 people serving the kitchen.
Four chefs are still working full time at the castle and are five gardeners.
The castle, designed in 1842 by London Parliament architect Charles Barry, has over 200 divisions and the area is 2,000 hectares, with incredible undisclosed maintenance costs.
"Of course 'Downton Abbey' has been fantastic advertising, which meant additional revenue," says Lady Carnarvon.
Before the series, 40,000 people visited the castle every year, and today there are about 90,000.