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.

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 [...]
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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 [...]
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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 [...]
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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 [...]
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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 [...]
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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, [...]
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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 [...]
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St Andrews & New York

November 30th was St Andrew’s Day.

I was one of the first students from my school in London to go to St Andrews University. It is an old town on the east coast of Fife and as well as a renowned university, and well known as the home of golf. There were three main streets, one supermarket, a coffee shop, a fish and chips shop, a baker, a chemist and a charming shop selling watercolours.  (It was some time ago!) There were a lot of pubs and it was a wonderful few years. I loved the architecture of the older houses, [...]
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Remembrance Sunday

Two global stories have been consistently in the press over the last few weeks; the first being the extraordinarily vivid poppy commemoration of the First World War around the Tower of London, capturing our imagination and hearts; the second being the current tragedy for millions of people in Syria.

Like many other people, we have helped raise money to support soldiers, and their families today both to remember those who have died, and to support those who live.  Like many others we have raised money as well for those charities working to give any aid they can to the desperate, to [...]
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Halloween at Highclere Castle

I have been writing about recipes at Highclere from our old books and letters and was thinking about this time of year, about all the pumpkins and of course Halloween. In actual fact, October 31st, “All Hallows Eve” or “Holy Day”, really began as an evening to give comfort, to reflect on those who have died and to remember them. In my imagination, however, Halloween is about ghosts, shrouded figures and disturbed souls rather than those at peace. Working alone at the top of the Castle in the archive room and remembering all the ghostly tales I abandoned trying to [...]
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