The official website of the Countess of Carnarvon

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Welcome

Welcome to my blog, inviting you behind the scenes of my life and home and sharing anecdotes from my everyday life at Highclere Castle. The world of Highclere still exists with its own community of Chefs, Gardeners and Housekeepers, Colin the Butler and Jo the Groom as well as all the other people who make the ‘Real Downton Abbey’ a welcoming place for visitors today.

Sunday Cricket

We have just played the last cricket match of this year on a lovely warm day and Highclere won which was exciting and fun. To be honest it was slightly unusual as we had lost most of the matches this season, sometimes when we thought we had nearly won too. I am trying to concisely explain cricket in a few paragraphs for my next book.

As children, my sisters and I always found the fielding names [...]
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Fire….Fire!

I am sure you will have read in the newspapers over the last week, of the great fire that is set to blaze through “Downton Abbey” in the opening episode.

We had obviously been aware of this story line when they were filming it here, and careful with what we could achieve here and what could be achieved in Ealing Studios, as Highclere Castle has suffered enough of its own fires.

The first one was 150 years ago in the North Library, if you look closely at the gilded ceiling when you are watching the TV series you will see that  it is far [...]
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Thank You To Everyone

Thank you to everyone who came to Highclere on Sunday 3rd August. We have had such lovely e-mails, letters and reports from the charities of generosity from the guests who came.

It was the following day, August 4th, 100 years ago that we declared we were at war with Germany. The peacemakers of Europe had lost their battle and somehow thousands of similar men who might have played in concerts, travelled together and of course played football together were stuck in opposing trenches.  The football match here was a draw and the footballers were excellent sports to play on an imperfect [...]
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Marvellous Men In These Flying Machines

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian Fellowes set the first episode of Downton just over 100 years ago.  The early 20th Century began  to lay the technological foundations for  all the modes of travel, the shopping, the civil rights and above all the gadgets on which we rely on (without thinking) today.

Horses for riding or carriages were being replaced with the horsepower of early cars.  Women’s clothes became less restrictive and in the 1920’s somewhat shorter than fashion had permitted in any preceding years. Aviation was beginning. In fact, the first flight in England was made by Geoffrey de Havilland from Highclere in September 1910.  [...]
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In Flanders Fields

I am sitting on the high chalk downlands above Highclere Castle amongst the swathes of poppies specially sown around the fields this year. It is extraordinarily beautiful and peaceful.

The story of how the red field poppy became known as the international symbol of remembrance for those fallen in war is fascinating and moving. It began with the bright red colours of the poppies on the fringes of the battlefields in Belgium and France flowering in the warm spring of 1915. The actual battle lines and trenches were a scene of grey devastation and wasteland but on the edges the churned [...]
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This month at Highclere Castle we’ve had a very different project: we have been hiring rollers, sweepers and different lawn mowers to create a one off football pitch for the Heroes at Highclere event.

My husband played football, so he has various views of how to create a football pitch, as do all the men who have happily turned to this project. Simon and James from the farm along with Paul, Robin and Don from the gardens, have been cutting and trimming, Sid and Bob have been in charge of diggers and rollers and Sid [...]
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Greece

We have been away for few days on a family holiday to Greece. This was the first time we had ever been there. It was idyllic; the seas were extraordinarily clear, with different shades of turquoise because of the limestone sea floors. We sailed round bluffs and headlands, finding coves and caves, fish rich waters and the smell of pines from the trees overhanging the bays. We would swim ashore and look back to the uneven silhouettes of other islands hard to distinguish from each other as the day became hotter.

My husband, Geordie’s ancestors, had explored this part of the [...]
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Pledge of Eternity

My youngest sister Georgie and her husband, who is from Lebanon, gave me one of my favourite books:  it is a beautiful book about cedars of Lebanon, with the subtitle “Pledge of Eternity”.  They are such exceptional trees, majestic and enduring, mentioned many times in the Bible, and before that an important symbol for the Egyptian Pharaohs who valued the wood, which was deemed incorruptible.

The trees were later coveted by Alexander the Great, Antigonus, the Romans, and the Arabs to build fleets of ships.

There are four taxa (family units) of cedar, firstly Cedar of Lebanon; secondly Cedrus Atlas which has [...]
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Starlight Children’s Foundation

This week we held our annual charity event to raise money for the Starlight Children’s Foundation. This is the 12th year that we have hosted this event and helped raise over £2million. Our small part helps Starlight to make a huge difference to desperately ill children and their families, giving them moments of laughter amidst the pain, the treatments and the fear. Having a wonderful day leaves memories for each family of something special, a moment for the child to treasure and think about even when, despite all efforts, they die.

The Starlight day, started with its own quirky memory for [...]
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Heroes at Highclere

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