The wonderful castle of Downton Abbey victim of Brexit

The wonderful castle of Downton Abbey victim of Brexit

At Highclere Castle, no one lives the castle life anymore. Famous for being the heart of the very British series Downton Abbey. The castle suffers from a lack of staff. Since the success of the series and the films that have followed, the castle’s activity has continued with large weddings organized on its 405-hectare estate. However, NBC reports, after Brexit, the shortage of workers from the European Union effectively reduced the monument’s ability to host and organize events.

The owner, Countess Fiona Carnarvon, explains the situation: «When we turn to our usual agencies to recruit staff, we simply cannot find them. If we ask for 10, hopefully we will find three available […]». In addition to that of European workers in England, Highclere Castle suffers from a lack of European students who once enjoyed working at the castle’s favorite series weddings. According to the data provided by theUniversities and Colleges Admissions Servicethe number of EU students admitted to UK universities in 2021 has halved.

The gift shop in trouble

Before Brexit, according to NBC, the superstar castle hosted “an average of 25 weddings with over 100 guests per season”. This business accounted for 40% of the estate’s income. Currently, the castle’s capacity is limited to weddings with around 20 guests.

Like all sites of historical and artistic interest, especially those used as film sets, Highclere Castle has a souvenir shop linked to its name: candles, t-shirts, bags, accessories, stationery… Everyone can go out with their own tote bag or order it online. Unfortunately, here too, Brexit hits revenue hard. The owner of the castle explained to NBC that “even the gift shop in Highclere has stopped shipping to EU countries […] due to increased courier costs and paperwork after leaving the EU.’ Exports to the EU accounted for about a third of trade activity. However – to close on a positive note – a new addition to the store’s shelves could help revive business: it’s a bottle of gin, which the Countess says is already selling well.

Source: Vanity Fair