This is a picked upload! It showcases some of the best talent and creativity available on MTS and in the community.
Well, it's been a while since I've had anything to share with you! Almost like I virtually always share enormous lots that take a long time to finish, isn't it?
I'm back though, and I present to you my latest monumental lot- Highclere Castle! (or Downton Abbey, if you prefer fiction!) An enormous, Elizabethan/Jacobean English Country House, this massive lot has all that your blue-blooded, upper-class Sims (and their dozens of domestic servants, footmen, lady's maids, valets, cooks, and everyone down to the kitchen-maid) could ever ask for!
As those of you who have seen the (pretty extensive) Creator Feedback thread for this lot know, this project has been going on for quite a while yet... I may have gotten just a touch carried away! But hey, what's a million Simoleans between friends? I'll state again though- this is a massive lot, so much as I hate to say it, I can't recommend it if you have a machine that won't be able to handle it. Still, I hope that whether you download it to play your own version of the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon or the Crawley family of Downton Abbey fame, download it just to look through and get ideas, or for "neighborhood decoration" of a sort, or even if you just look through some of the screenshots I've attached, you'll be able to have fun with this lot- I certainly did in the creation process!
As far as the lot's architecture goes, the first and second floors are based (as much as possible) off of what you'd find in the actual Highclere Castle, particularly in questions of layout, since I was able to find some decent floorplans of this beautiful building. I wasn't able to manage this with the third floor and above (I actually went so far as asking the staff of Highclere Castle if they had any available, but since the Earl and Countess of Carnarvon still live in the house, they don't have any to disperse... either that, or they didn't believe that it was for the Sims, and thought I was trying to case the house out!
), so I had to stick with just trying to continue the spirit of the layout from the lower floors, and the style I was able to find from various photos (mostly from Highclere, but some from various other English country houses too).
The main floor is the only part of the house you'd be likely to see if you were lucky enough to be the invited guest of such an aristocratic family. The entrance hall provides a stately welcome to the home, but it's really the three-story saloon (pronounced like salon) that takes the cake when it comes to this house. Rising up from the ground floor, past the balconies of the second story hallway, all the way up to an elegant skylight above the third floor, this room is a perfect showpiece for any stately old house. Other rooms, like the library on the lefthand side of the house, might also play host to an elite social gathering, while rooms like the Music Room on the back left would be a beautiful venue for private concerts or intimate conversations. The dining room would be the center of many opulent dinner parties, with various portraits of the former Earls and Countesses lining the walls (creator's note: if you're playing this lot as a legacy, I'd encourage you to replace the stock photos with photos of the Sims you move in- just to give the house a bit more of a personal touch!
Located off the three-story saloon, the Grand Staircase provides an elegant approach to the upper levels (though it's not a match for the actual Oak Staircase of Highclere- I tried, but that stairway just wouldn't work for the Sims), while a second staircase towards the rear of the house allows residents to move up and down without having to go so far out of their way. (Servant's staircases also dot the building, but let's be real here- your Sims aren't going to deign to use THAT kind of staircase, are they?
The second and third floors are dominated by bedrooms and attached servant's rooms, with a grand total of a dozen bedrooms available, (plus a nursery, to keep squalling little ones out of sight until they're behaved well enough to be presented to the Earl or Countess.) as well as a number of en suite servant's chambers, where valets and lady's maids can lay out the clothing for the members of the family, and keep such garments neatly organized and pressed. No member of such a household would ever be seen in public without being dressed in their best!
Some of the bedrooms, mostly those on the second floor, are based on actual bedrooms in Highclere Castle, while others are ones drawn from other English estates, or my own imagination (I did my best to stay true to the real-world style though!).
One thing you may notice is a relative lack of bathrooms throughout the house. This isn't an oversight on my part, it's a historical fact of buildings as old as Highclere Castle- when the house was first constructed, bathrooms just weren't such a consideration. A valet or lady's maid would have helped their lord or lady bathe, and chamber pots would have been the norm. When indoor plumbing became expected, many of the small rooms in the castle's turrets were turned into bathrooms, but to actually bring plumbing into ALL the bedrooms would have been a massive architectural change, and as I aim to keep this lot period-appropriate, I left that particular aspect in a more "historic" situation. If you prefer, there are several servant's rooms that could be changed into en suite bathrooms without too much work.
As anyone who's watched even part of an episode of Downton Abbey would be quick to tell you, a family in a house like this depends on a veritable army of servants to cater to their needs. The valets and lady's maids that tend to individual members of the household are just one part of the system that supports such a situation. Footmen would be present to tend to the needs of family members and guests during the day and at mealtime, a chauffeur would transport members of the household to various events, possibly also maintaining the estate's vehicles, cooks would spend their days working nonstop in the kitchen to prepare sumptuous meals for the family and their guests, and various maids, gardeners, mechanics, and the like would have tirelessly ensured that everything in the estate was clean, trimmed, and functioning at its peak.
Obviously, this massive array of domestic servants would need a good deal of square footage for their own use, whether for personal needs (bedchambers, toilets, and the like) or to carry out the business of the estate without it being under the eye of the aristocratic members of society, for whom such tasks as cooking and cleaning were considered "beneath them." The real-world Highclere Castle has considerably more square footage dedicated to this purpose than would ever fit on a Sims lot, but even so, the entire right-hand side of this lot is given over to various rooms that the household staff would need. Some, like the kitchen, are obvious, but others may be somewhat less so. Offices in which a gentleman's valet might handle correspondence, for instance, may seem much the same as any other office, but for the fact that they're so obviously not meant to be part of the public part of the house. There are also rooms like the florist's shop or the seamstress's room, whose function in the Sims may be somewhat less than they would have had in the real world, but which nonetheless provide an additional dose of turn-of-the-century aristocratic necessity (as well as an opportunity for your service Sims to build their skills, to prove themselves worth the attention of your aristocratic household).
Servant's portions of the house also conceal a number of narrow, wooden staircases- nowhere near the grandeur of the main, public stairways, but essential to allow the staff to move about the house without unnecessarily bumping into members of the family.
OK, now for the nitty-gritty technical aspects of this enormous lot!
(As if anyone should need reminding at this point), This is a huge building. Even on computers that are more mid-range, it may be more taxing for your graphics card and processor than many other lots, so unless your computer is really high up in terms of gaming ability, expect to see some lag here. Slower machines may also not like the act of first moving a family into the lot- several of my testers had the game lock up during the loading screen. Just shut it down, then go back into the game and return to your neighborhood- your household should be successfully moved in, you just won't get a cutscene of their arrival... sorry!
On the plus side, like every other lot I've uploaded, there's not a drop of CC to be found here. No family would move into a house like this if it meant they'd have to spend their time hunting down any number of things to make the home livable, and I see no reason why I should force people who download the lot to do the same! I did use all EPs and all SPs besides Happy Holidays though (although there's precious little from Family Fun, so if you need to, you can probably skate by without that one), so you do need to have a pretty solid collection, but thanks to the release of the TS2 Ultimate Collection a while back, that shouldn't pose too much trouble for most of you!
In my most humble opinion, this lot looks best placed on a corner intersection, just so that the paths on the left-hand side of the lot seem to connect to something, but it's up to you- it certainly doesn't look bad placed all on its lonesome! Just be sure that whatever area is graced with such an elite building is up to scratch! Beautiful, rolling green hills are a must!
Also, a word of caution- the chimney that connects the fireplaces in the saloon, library, and a second-floor bedroom doesn't like being touched... at all, really. Pretty much any build/buy mode interaction aside from recoloring fireplaces and placing items on the mantle causes the game to lock up. I can't find any explanation for this, but the fireplaces themselves are functional, so as long as you're not doing any MAJOR remodels, you shouldn't have much trouble.
I'd also just like to point out that there is a driveway on the lot, but no cars. The EAxis vehicles aren't period-appropriate enough, as far as I'm concerned, but I didn't want to leave your Sims completely without wheels, so there it is- do whatever you like with it. There are some beautiful CC vehicles that wouldn't look out of place available from some other creators, if you're so interested!
Finally, as always, a clone of this lot has been tested, just to rule out any major problems. If you run into any trouble, by all means, let me know, and I'll do my best to fix it!
As a real-world inspired lot, credit should be given to the actual architect of Highclere Castle, Sir Charles Barry. I did my best to stay true to his designs! Thanks also to the many MTS members who helped with inspiration and playtesting this lot- it was much appreciated!