The official website of the Countess of Carnarvon

blog-header
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.

Highclere’s kitchens

From poring over old maps and outlines, I would guess that the kitchens have stood in the same spot at Highclere for several hundred years. Originally, they would have been separated from the house to help contain the risk of fire. The older house seems to have been L-shaped with a medieval church to the west and the kitchens lying slightly to the south west. There are water wells on either side.

At the back of the kitchen was a great hearth, the fire for cooking which in later centuries became the first cooking range and today a modern set of [...]
Read More

Upstairs Downstairs

In any day I spend a lot of time looking for people or perhaps they spend quite a lot of time looking for me. I go up one staircase and John Gundill our Castle Manger down another. He then asks who has seen me, and is told I have gone to see Pat the decorator on the top floor. He heads on up, (which is a fair climb), and is then told by Pat and her team I have gone downstairs.

John goes back downstairs during that time I gather he is looking for me and so I go to his [...]
Read More

Good Gully

At the coldest time of year we try to get ahead and make sure, in advance, that we have ordered in heating oil ahead of time for the Castle, associated houses and some of the Park cottages. In fact the Castle oil tank is on a sophisticated system which should alert the oil delivery company that a reserve level has been reached and we need the tank to be filled. Except that it didn’t.

Of course it was a weekend, a Saturday , and one of the coldest days. It was Les to the rescue ringing up for emergency deliveries of heating [...]
Read More

Curses!

One of the girls in the office walked into John, our Castle Manager’s office, white as a sheet. Immediately concerned, he suggested she sat down and asked her what was the matter and how he could help?

It turned out that she was most worried about the curse of Tutankhamun. The media reported that there had been a little accident in the Cairo museum and apparently his beard had fallen off and been glued back on with superglue!  It so happened that, unfortunately, I also had a little accident the same day as this news. At the time, it looked much [...]
Read More

It is all very Highclere

Gales and rough weather have battered Highclere this week, cedar trees have lost limbs but it is nothing like the desperate situation in Lebanon with refugees facing freezing conditions, sheltering in cedar forests without the solid walls that Highclere’s stone face affords us. The instability and unhappiness in this crowded area have probably helped spark the tragedy in France.

To distract ourselves from leaky tiles, cascading guttering and wobbly walls we went to watch a young horse, a two year old filly, being broken in.  We always ask Gary Witheford, an English horse whisperer, who is near Highclere, to help. His [...]
Read More

New Year at Highclere

January is often a difficult time of year; it is both and end and the start. It is a time for reflection and a time when people resolve to improve some aspect of their life, or to eat less or to drink less. It can make one feel a little downcast…..where are the bubbles? More seriously, it is a sobering and sad time if you are coping with recent sudden tragedies or just trying to survive in a war zone, hoping not to be forgotten. Supposedly January is named for the two headed God Janus looking both ways, forwards and [...]
Read More

Downton at the Real Downton….

While we were watching Downton at the Real Downton…

It was a wild and stormy night outside and family and friends were all gathered together around a lovely fire for a Christmas evening out of the ordinary….

We were going to watch “Downton” while sitting in the “Real Downton”, whilst we hoped many other viewers would be enjoying watching our home in their home. It is still a little odd.

The first problem on the evening of Christmas day was that we were running late. We have a huge Christmas lunch with all the staff helping us and the long table filled with [...]
Read More

Christmas Time

There is something about Christmas time.  Magazines always seem to show perfectly decorated houses, beautifully thought out tables, immaculate trees, the food is perfect, mantelshelves are suitably festooned and everyone is behaving perfectly. It all looks very calm. My own reality is definitely different.

The other morning we got up far too early (5am) as ITV had asked if they could do the weather from Highclere. Not my best time of day. The dogs were all happy to be up and ran into camera shot to be petted and cuddled. Elizabeth McGovern (Lady Cora in Downton Abbey) was in the studio whilst [...]
Read More

From Earl to Earl

 

Part of the utter joy of living at Highclere is the contrast between practical jobs (often outside) and the glamorous evening dinners. From evening kit one moment to animals and mud the next.

 

One night we were at a New York Gala, with the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge arriving to support St Andrews University. Long dresses, amazing fund raising (I think our auction prized hit the top note) and then back today to chasing naughty ponies round fields. I often feed the horses in the winter mornings, usually slightly late and this time perhaps jet lagged. The little chestnut pony, [...]
Read More

From Highclere Castle to New York

Following the American War of Independence, the United States were keen to mark their differences from the United Kingdom. No titles: “Mr President”. Furthermore, George Washington wanted to help create a political system which did not lead to “taking sides”, the idea was to work for the common good.

However, Downton Abbey and the British Royal Family today, seem to have caught the American imagination and there is much curiosity about titles, Stately Homes, and about the past. Who would have through US TV viewers would switch from Super Bowl to Downton Abbey? Even in this century, Highclere Castle remains a [...]
Read More

Copyright 2015 Lady Carnarvon · RSS Feed · Website Design by MAXX Design