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Lady Carnarvon, a self-described “prudent Scottish accountant,” doesn’t mind buses coughing and screeching onto the gravel driveway of her country estate and depositing 1,500 fans each day at her doorstep. In fact, she eagerly welcomes the visitors to Highclere Castle who pay the $27 admission fee, buy the $14.50 guidebooks and don’t leave without souvenirs like a $23 polo shirt with Highclere Castle etched on the front.
Why the attraction? Lady Carnarvon’s home is the fictional setting for the TV series “Downton Abbey,” and she is determined to cash in. As she told a visitor while scrambling to find a place for lunch that wasn’t already occupied by tourists, the location fees paid for the use of Highclere “are not going to pay for the roof.”