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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

‘Downton Abbey’ castle stops weddings due to Brexit, shortage of staff

Highclere Castle in Hampshire, England, is now famous globally as the main set for the popular TV drama series “Downton Abbey.”  (Tribune News Service)
By David Matthews New York Daily News

Good help is proving especially hard to find at the real-life Downton Abbey.

Highclere Castle, where the popular period drama was filmed, has stopped hosting weddings as it has been unable to hire enough workers because of Brexit.

The Victorian castle – located in Hampshire in Southern England – served as the primary filming location for the Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning show. However, its main business has long been as a lavish wedding venue, usually hosting 25 weddings with about 100 guests each year.

Countess Fiona Carnarvon, who owns the castle with her husband, the eighth Earl of Carnarvon, blamed Brexit for the inability to hire workers from the European Union.

“There are no staff,” she told Reuters, describing the shortage of EU students studying in Britain who had previously made up much of the employee base at the venue.

“We have stopped being able to offer any weddings of any substantial size because of Brexit,” she said.

“When we go to our usual agencies and try to find people, they are not there. If we asked for 10, three might turn up … There’s nobody we haven’t asked.”

The situation mirrors “Downton Abbey,” where staff departed the castle as WWI raged.

The castle’s other money-making ventures, including a gift shop and afternoon tea service, have also taken a hit.

Hospitality is one of the many industries in Britain that have seen worker shortages since the country officially left the European Union in January 2020. Manufacturing, construction and shipping have similarly been impacted.

Meanwhile, Countess Fiona Carnarvon, who has also written several books about the castle’s history, has stayed active on Instagram. Last week, she posted a video of herself sliding down a banister while trailed by two Labradors, and frequently shares other aspects of daily life at the castle.