Downton Abbey crew and cast finally departed from us on about July 9th. For the last six years a substantial part of Highclere’s year has been dominated by the requirements of being a film set: working with the actors and actresses as they filmed in the same familiar rooms, corridors, stairs and galleries as well as exploring new shots and locations in and around the gardens, lawns, follies and cottages. It has also been about liaising with the film crew, the production staff and the location scouts. There have been endless recces throughout; questions about when various parts of the garden would be in flower, and long days and nights for both those working for the production and for Highclere and our committed and humorous team. I remain so grateful to the latter in particular for all their hard work and patience.
It has been an amazing and splendid journey for which we will be ever grateful. Fortunately for Highclere the interest, whether from media or visitors, remains strong and of course there are rumours of a film… our seasonal calendar will continue in its traditional basis, around Easter Egg Hunts, concerts, country fairs, charity days and general visiting days during the summer. Christmas may seem a long way off still but we have already reserved a huge tree and I imagine we will watch the last episode about our home, in our home, still rather a surreal experience.
Do I worry about the end of Downton? Of course I do! Downton has been part of Highclere’s world in a spectacular fashion. However, I am going to try out some new “bright ideas” next year though clearly only time will tell how bright they are! In February we are going to have some romance and fun on and around Valentine’s Day. Later in spring, we will focus on the Gardens and Capability Brown as well as, of course, cream teas and tours of the Castle: all quintessentially English. Our summer season will end in September with what I hope will be a charming finale in which visitors will all be expected to play their part. But, more of that another time…..
Because of the marketing platform I was more easily able to publish my books, and indeed I am continuing to write which I find tremendously relaxing and enjoyable. Highclere’s history has so many stories and characters, anecdotes, laughter, whether in the past or today. I think sometimes we are our own sitcom!
Planning and preparation are essential to any business strategy, and Highclere is in many ways a business. However, flexibility and understanding also play their part. My husband takes a rational approach to planning and preparation. I tend rather to listen to my heart and follow my nose which I hope he finds endearing but suspect that sometimes, he is merely exasperated! I don’t know where the journey is going but I do know that everyone here works hard and does their best. We have a lot of laughter echoing down the corridors and, better still, a seemingly inexhaustible supply of practical jokes. If Highclere has been lucky enough to take centre stage then I hope there are many more acts to come.