As a little gay boy, I dreamed of growing up to live in a great mansion. I imagined towering gold-trimmed ceilings and ballrooms adorned with chandeliers, and a grand entrance hall with a tall marble staircase that I would descend like Gloria Swanson at her most confident to greet my fabulous guests. But as I got older, I realized I can be just as happy living in a tiny Philly row home, and I can make just as dramatic of an entrance shuffling down a tight little flight of wooden stairs — especially if I step just so over the step that makes that damned creaking noise.
The gorgeous Grantham estate in Downtown Abbey, though, has inspired me again — not so much to actually live in a home whose electric bills alone would swallow Bill Gates in a year — but to rekindle that little part of myself that was overshadowed by a grown, more practical me. That’s why I wanted to share Flavorpill’s “Visual Tour of Grand English Great Houses,” in which they’ve gathered photos from some of England’s real-life Downtons — many of which still play home to a legion of earls, dukes and ladies.
Some of the most drool-worthy on the list are Norfolk’s Holkham Hall, the Palladium-style home that was home to England’s Coke family; Chatsworth House in Derbyshire has enough star power to earn itself a place in films, like 2005′s Pride and Prejudice and The Duchess, starring Keira Knightley; and Flintham Hall in Nottinghamshire is attached to a large conservatory full of exotic plants and trees. Check out the entire list here.