King of the Castle

OK, so it’s actually not a castle. In fact, people sometimes get a little offended if you call it a castle. It’s a manor house. Manor, castle, palace, mansion, dream, house. Whatever you want to call it… it is the most magnificent place I’ve ever seen, and for the next six months, I get to call it “home.”

Harlaxton Manor was built in the 1830’s. She has over 150 rooms, a mile-long driveway, over 30 fireplaces, a chandelier made of 1,000 crystals, and artwork that is collectively worth an obscene amount of money. She was not constructed in one architectural style, but a mix of them with incorporated building materials and influences from around the world.

Let me first warn you that I do not have a lot of words for this place. Words are my specialty, but no matter how hard I could try to describe Harlaxton, I would fail. Nor could I post a photo that would do the place justice. But I’m going to post several pictures to give you a taste of the luxury in which I’m living. Perhaps you’ll understand why I cannot conjure pure words. Ladies and gentlemen, this is Harlaxton Manor.

There is a long, straight driveway with a gatehouse that holds two apartments.

The property contains several statues of lions—Harlaxton’s mascot.

There are side yards with gardens that are kept in pristine condition. Behind the house, there’s an Italian garden just for the sole purpose of being there. It contains several columns, statues, and an excellent view of my humble home.

The grounds around the manor are stunning. So much so that they (and parts of the interior) have been used for several television episodes and movies—Victoria, The Haunting, and The Ruling Class are just a few.

Beside the house itself, there’s a carriage house. It was obviously built for keeping the horses and carriages when Harlaxton was constructed. Now, since there isn’t much demand for horse-drawn carriages and since The Carriage House is significantly larger than most regular houses, it has been converted into student housing.

Beside the carriage house is a gym complete with basketball courts and a workout facility. I’m not going to show you a picture of it because it’s no fancier than a regular gym. It’s not like they make golden treadmills.

Connected to the main building is a conservatory that is second only to the Garden of Eden. Here is a portion.

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And now, a tour of some of my favorite rooms. These don’t even begin to crack the surface of the whole building.

This is the largest wooden staircase in England. It’s beautiful itself, but if you look up, you’ll forget you’re standing on steps.

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The State Dining Hall’s golden chandeliers and exquisite fireplace make it the ideal spot for singing animated candelabras and teacups.

The State Dining Hall is home to one of Harlaxton’s many secret passageways… because you can’t have a place this fancy and large without secret passageways.

Here. I’ll show you one. The rest shall remain secrets.

Gregory Gregory (that’s not a typo; he has the same first and last name) built Harlaxton in the 1830’s. This painting is a creepy interpretation of what he looked like. He was a big traveler, so many parts of his décor and building materials are from different countries. That makes the building even more fitting for study abroad students.

This is the Ante Room. Its ceiling, like many throughout the manor, is ridiculous.

We have an actual Victorian elevator. It works. I use it once per day.

This is called The Gold Room for obvious reasons.

Since we don’t exactly need fine dining all the time, we usually eat in The Refectory. Not many cafeterias are designed to look like the inside of European train cars.

The Long Gallery is a classroom that fits all of our students at the same time for their British studies class. Could you imagine taking a test in a room like this?

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The Schroeder Lounge is a hangout spot. I really like the feel of it. There are both British and American flags throughout the lounge since Harlaxton is in England but it’s an American university program.

The Blue Corridor is nothing but hallways with rooms, but boy is it a fancy hallway.

Would a mansion be complete without a ballroom? This is called The Great Hall. It serves as a meeting place, a dinner hall, an auditorium, a dance floor, and the backdrop for many a photo.

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That’s it for now. I don’t want to overload you on the whole manor right away. That, and I’d probably get lost again if I took more pictures. Yes, I have gotten lost, or at least made wrong turns several times now.

I’m absolutely loving my stay here, and the place is booming now that the students and faculty have arrived. For a while, I was literally the only one staying at the Manor, and I loved playing king of the castle. However, there’s something a little spooky about staying in an 1800’s mansion completely by yourself.

If you like ghost stories, stay tuned.

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