Category: Heroes at Highclere

The Somme

Several summers past, I sat down in the study in the Castle to write “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey”: a story about Highclere before, during and after the First World War. By the end of June, I was writing about the Battle of the Somme which was actually launched on July 1st 1916.

Historical statistics relate that one million men were killed or wounded, but how can we imagine the lost sons, husbands and brothers?  I was also writing about Almina’s hospital at Highclere, the nursing and the world of medicine, the attempts to heal. I read that 400 [...]
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Highclere Plane Search Team

10.30 am and the Highclere plane search team had congregated by the Castle tearooms for our next expedition. This time we were joined by an eye witness: Colin had lived at Highclere as a young boy throughout the Second World War and actually seen some of the planes go down into the hills and woods over the Estate.

His father, Jack, was something of a legend and had held on to the ropes of Geoffrey de Havilland’s plane as it was preparing to take off for the first time here at Highclere in 1910. I was watching Colin as we drove [...]
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One name and one story.

Highclere has so many stories to find and, as ever, it is a question of looking in the right place.

During my research into the Second World War at Highclere, I discovered that quite a few planes had come down over the Estate. The pilots, navigators and airmen who died in the crashes were all somebody’s son: part of someone’s family with friends and a life not lived; most of them young Americans aged in their early twenties. My goal is to create a sculpture and memorial to them here in the gardens. But first I have to find who they [...]
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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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Thank You To Everyone

Thank you to everyone who came to Highclere on Sunday 3rd August. We have had such lovely e-mails, letters and reports from the charities of generosity from the guests who came.

It was the following day, August 4th, 100 years ago that we declared we were at war with Germany. The peacemakers of Europe had lost their battle and somehow thousands of similar men who might have played in concerts, travelled together and of course played football together were stuck in opposing trenches.  The football match here was a draw and the footballers were excellent sports to play on an imperfect [...]
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Marvellous Men In These Flying Machines

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian Fellowes set the first episode of Downton just over 100 years ago.  The early 20th Century began  to lay the technological foundations for  all the modes of travel, the shopping, the civil rights and above all the gadgets on which we rely on (without thinking) today.

Horses for riding or carriages were being replaced with the horsepower of early cars.  Women’s clothes became less restrictive and in the 1920’s somewhat shorter than fashion had permitted in any preceding years. Aviation was beginning. In fact, the first flight in England was made by Geoffrey de Havilland from Highclere in September 1910.  [...]
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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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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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Heroes at Highclere

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