Category: Entertaining

A Constitutional Walk for Canada Day

A Constitutional Walk for Canada Day

Reading the 4th Countess’s of Carnarvon’s diaries in her lovely clear script, I have begun to understand a little more about life here 130 years ago. Some things never change. The family liked going for walks or riding on their horses, perhaps up Beacon Hill as I did yesterday evening. They were keen to ensure they spent time outside and considered it was good for their health, for their “constitution”, so much so that if the weather was miserable, they walked in the dining room for 30 minutes!  The thought of Lord and Lady Carnarvon, arms [...]
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Where words end, music begins

My mother-in- law began the Newbury Spring Festival 39 years ago. It is an international music festival with some 59 different events spread over two weeks around this area, using churches and houses, as well as theatres, to listen to outstanding orchestras, choirs, violinists or quartets.  One of our contributions is to host a concert here at the Castle. Mark Eynon, the festival director, had persuaded the Sacconi Quartet to come and play for us and, in turn, I had persuaded my great friend Karine Hagen, of Viking Cruises, to co-sponsor it with us. We were honoured that the Festival’s [...]
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Easter at Highclere

My husband’s parents first opened Highclere Castle to the public in the summer of 1989 and thereafter each July and August.  When it came to our turn to take over, Geordie and I decided to open during Easter and the surrounding school holidays as well, hoping for reasonably good weather so that visitors would be able to park on the fields around the Castle. Of course, as some of you may remember, that hope went horribly wrong with the rainfall last Easter but that is another story.

Having decided to open earlier in the year, we then had to focus on [...]
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Christmas Tree

Dressing the Castle for Christmas is no ordinary project: every year we plan and prepare and every year it is always something of a test. The main ingredient required therefore is always a good sense of humour and a lot of laughter.

Lauren, in the office here, is in charge of organising the assorted Christmas trees: the huge one for the Saloon, 20 smaller ones for the drive and about 10 quite large ones by various doors and courtyards. John, our unique and detailed Castle Manager becomes most exercised about “size”. Lauren spends a lot of time asking, and confirming, the [...]
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Dress Code

Weekend invitations to Highclere are followed by a flurry of emails confirming dress codes and what excitements the weekend will hold. Is it shooting, tennis, riding, a concert or some good country walks? Is it short or long for the ladies and how smart or not for the men? Warm wraps are always a good idea in case I have had a brainwave and decided we are having cocktails by a temple.

Occasionally, I lack precision; happily explaining to local friends it is not really smart: just laughter and fun. One girlfriend relayed those words to her husband. He therefore correctly [...]
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New Year at Highclere

New Years’ Eve found about 30 or 40 of us gathered together at Highclere to dance and dine our way through to 2016. My parents were not particularly bothered and did not always stay up to see the New Year in which, as children, we always found rather disappointing. As a result I try to gather a good selection of friends together amidst laughter and Scottish reeling to mark the advent of another year.

I love reeling and organised many such evenings with various friends whilst at St Andrews University. If you combine that with being the eldest of six sisters [...]
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Happy Christmas

Happy Christmas!!

I thought I would simply share a few photographs of some of the projects we have taken forward over the past year.

We have repaired the floorboards, electrics and re-carpeted a wonderful corridor on the second floor of the south side of the Castle. It was a rainy day job for Pat Withers and her team in between other projects. One staircase from here leads to a Robing Room (photographed) whilst another leads up the Great Tower (yet to be carpeted but two landings and four rooms are finished on the first floor).

The Estate office is both a joy [...]
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The week before Christmas

 

For some reason, like many others, I think I have time on my side and will be ready and relaxed in time for Christmas. Once again the reality is somewhat different. There is a mass of presents nearly wrapped which, like the 12 days of Christmas, go round in circles on the floor in the Annexe: 12 car parkers, 11 for the Castle office, 10 in the estate office, 9 nieces and nephews, 8 gardeners and mowers, 7 keepers, 6 joiners, 5 sisters, 4 plumbers, 3 decorators, 2 electricians, and then at the end a husband and son. Then I [...]
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Christmas at Highclere

It is December so we have begun to decorate the Castle, the driveway leading from the gates to the front door, and the tearooms. Despite all the careful thought that goes into this, there is always something that doesn’t happen quite as planned.  The main one for us this year was the height of the tree. We ordered a 20ft Christmas tree but the one that arrived was 30ft. Even with my maths that is quite an increase. Ever optimistic however, with men helping and even more men watching, it was hoisted aloft. Sadly it then had to come back down [...]
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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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