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.

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

Horsing Around

We were all working a late night at the Castle, quickly turning Downton Abbey back to Highclere Castle, and putting furniture, pictures and plants back in place, as the following day we were welcoming a private tour in aid of Burghclere Church.

Sally and I were busy in the gift shop packing up sixty gift bags for the guests (I do love a gift bag they are unexpected fun!). While we were busy chatting away, Bill my very tall grey horse was in the stable just around the corner. He is turning into something of a character, and rather enjoys being [...]
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The Rose Arbour

This week I have been enjoying early mornings down in the rose arbour, I head off from the Castle armed with a fork and gardening gloves. As I make my way past the courtyard four of our lovely Nepalese staff (who usually help in the tearooms) come to my aid and we walk down the hill together.

The arbour was one of my bright ideas about 3 years ago:  I wanted to do something in memory of my mother. So with my 5 sisters we put a plan together and decided to also plant a walnut walk leading to the arbour, [...]
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Public Opening at Highclere Castle

Downton finished filming a big scene last week and cleared out much of their kit of cables, lights and props so that we could prepare the Castle for the Easter public opening. It was still early when Charlie from the Downton props team scrunched in his white van, on the gravel underneath my window.  He came to remove the last of the various small outdoor props so we could replace with bins and signage.

Downstairs I could hear Diana, our Head Housekeeper, busy hovering away, I know that Ana and Chloe will arrive in the next hour and after their [...]
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Percy

 

Last week ended in misery because our beloved old yellow Labrador Percy died. I had bought him 12 years ago from a dear friend who lives across the fields from us. My sister Lucy decided he was the fattest and boldest in the litter so he would be the one for us. Christened Percy by my husband, this little bundle of fluff arrived and could almost fit in our hands.

I wanted our son Edward to grow up with a dog, to love him and be loved, someone to play with, sleep with and run with.  Percy was always there for [...]
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