Rich Americans paying £2.5k a day for “downstairs” experience at Scottish Downton Abbey


AMERICANS are paying £2,500 a day for a “Downton Abbey” experience – with as many opting to be Carson as Lord Grantham.

Dundas castle, eight miles west of Edinburgh, is offering guests a “Downton Abbey” experience in homage to the hit TV drama.

Rich visitors are queueing up to experience life at the 17-bedroom castle but just as many opt to work “downstairs” shining shoes and polishing silver as want to live like a lord.

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The 15th century pile, on a 400-acre estate overlooking South Queensferry, is home to 86-year old former MEP Sir Jack Stewart-Clark and his wife Lady Lydia, an interior designer.

The couple have spent the last 15 years upgrading the property and run it as a business which includes renting it out for functions.

Small groups of friends can pay £2,500 a day for the “Downton Abbey” experience and can enjoy a sumptuous lifestyle with meals in the dining room and shooting tuition on the estate with a gamekeeper.

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A website advertising the breaks states: “Whether guests want to live like a lord, cook like Mrs Patmore or just learn how things were done in times gone by, the Downton Experience gives Castle guests firsthand experience of life in a grand house.

“As an exclusive use destination with 17 gorgeous bedrooms, the Downton Experience can be booked for a group including overnight stays, or as a daytime experience for 2 to 20 people.”

But Lucy Scillitoe, the general manager, said she was surprised how many people wanted to try being a servant.

She said: “The downstairs experiences are just as popular as the upstairs experiences.

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“It’s something that, perhaps, you wouldn’t think would be so attractive as it is. Baking in Sir Jack’s kitchen is particularly popular.

“The butler also shows them how he prepares clothes for the owner of the castle.”

So far, all of the guests have come from the United States, where Downton Abbey has millions of viewers.

An ITV period drama set in 1912, it follows the lives of a family living in a grand Edwardian house. The final episode screened in the UK December.

Sir Jack, whose great-grandfather Stewart Clark came from Paisley and made a fortune in the textile business, said he tried to keep the trips historically accurate.

He said: “I love to welcome guests who can really feel my house is their home. Whether it is a personal shooting lesson or a tutorial from the butler, we like to make sure the experience is authentic.”