This is Highclere Castle, the actual site of the fictional Downton Abbey. If you have watched the TV series you know that one of the underlying themes of the program is the fact that the fictional Earl of Grantham had trouble keeping the castle because of its cost. His original solution was marrying an American heiress.
If you ever wondered what it costs to buy and maintain a grand English country house, CNBC did a little digging and concluded that it’s a lot more than most people believe.
Rupert Sweeting, head of the Country Department of Knight Frank in London, said that the biggest costs of owning a country estate are the staff. He said that for a “moderate-sized” 1,500 acre spread, you’ll need a butler, cook, secretary, groundspeople and cleaning staff. (Read More: Top Towns for $10 Million Home Sales)
“And for hunts, you need gamekeepers, one or two at the very least,” he said.
Total annual cost for the staff would be anywhere between $600,000 to $1 million a year.
Then there all those leaky rooves and crumbling gargoyles. Everyday repairs on your estate or castle will set you back another $100,000 a year or so.
Renovations are the big ticket item. Sweeting said most owners do a major renovation after they’ve purchase their estates. After about 20 or 30 years, they either redo them again or sell.
He said many clients spend $6 million to $8 million on renovations, though some spend much more.
In the end, the total bill for keeping an estate is upwards of $1.5 million or more.
People with that kind of money are often Middle East oil sheiks or Russian moguls. The current owners of Highclere are the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon whose ancesters owned the property since the 1600s and built the castle in the 1800s. They maintain the castle by renting it out for weddings, parties and other events.