Category: Restoration

Monopoly Cards

Like any multi-faceted business we have a number of different bank accounts, some of which are in a better state than others. The estate account is particularly prone to fluctuations. In the early days I used to ask my husband every so often how bad it was – never a good topic – but then I decided I would like to help. My husband is probably slightly ambivalent about this as, whilst I can think of ways to bring in money, I am also rather too good at finding ways of spending it.

The estate account is all about the [...]
Read More

Journeys in Time

Journeys in Time

I have never been very keen on heights: I have to tell myself to breathe and climb steadily as I go up ladders or, indeed, on ski lifts. Much to my surprise therefore, I remained remarkably calm as I climbed a very long ladder to look at the restoration work currently being done on an ancient barn on the Estate.  So many visitors and guests admire the Castle, its setting, the landscape and gardens, yet that only represents a proportion of what Geordie and I are restoring and sustaining. This is not a “normal” investment with a chance [...]
Read More

Stones and Homes

Not far from Highclere lies Stonehenge, an extraordinary outline of the remains of architecture from c. 5,000 to 3,000 BC around which people lived, farmed and planned their lives. Highclere also has remains of tumuli and forts from the same period. Every time I walk there, it seems a place of timelessness with just the outline of our ancestors’ building works.

Christopher Wren, an outstanding British architect who rebuilt perhaps 52 churches in London after the Great Fire in 1666 including, of course, St Paul’s Cathedral, wrote that “Architecture aims at Eternity” and sometimes, in places like Stonehenge, you really begin [...]
Read More

Sally’s poached my men!

It is “all hands on deck” as we prepare the Castle for the Easter opening. Over the winter the weather has continually been against us in terms of the fields we use for car parking and they are still very wet. In addition, we have not been able to clear up and repair fences and tracks as much as we would have liked as it would have made it more of a muddy mess.  Even the sheep along the exit route in the park have managed to knock over and ruin the signage.

Wet weather has, however, helped the gardeners, who [...]
Read More

Winchester Lodge

The old approach to the Castle used to be from the south leading towards the ancient city of Winchester. There is a narrow pass under Siddown hill, with a steep hillside falling away and, as the land flattens, the entrance is marked by a lodge and gate, unsurprisingly called Winchester Lodge.

As usual it was in dire need of repair so it has been one of our projects over the last six or seven months. It is the same team of delightful stone masons who worked on an earlier lodge, led by Eric from Heritage Building Conservation.

My husband, Geordie, and I are getting quite good at [...]
Read More

Fish & Chip Wednesday

At some point each day I look in on our biggest building project – the renovation of the Castle Estate Offices. There are always a few building works trundling along at any given time but this particular one is marked both by its longevity and its remarkable ability to absorb money at a great rate.

One of my roles at Highclere is to act as a sort of cross between an agent and project manager.   It is not the easiest job as one of the main tasks is to try to keep teamwork going amongst the craftsmen by continual “critical path [...]
Read More

I have a new job….

Reading the Pipe Rolls (a collection of financial records) from about 1270 for Highclere, it is clear that some things do not change. Walls were being mended, mangers for horses and stables repaired, stone and chalk pulled by bullock cart to shore up some building, trees were hewn and there were always missing tiles from the roof.

Highclere was quite an economic centre during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. A village lay just ½ mile to the north of the Castle, there were rabbit warrens, a deer park and horses grazed the park.

We still have horses grazing the Park, some pet [...]
Read More

Good Gully

At the coldest time of year we try to get ahead and make sure, in advance, that we have ordered in heating oil ahead of time for the Castle, associated houses and some of the Park cottages. In fact the Castle oil tank is on a sophisticated system which should alert the oil delivery company that a reserve level has been reached and we need the tank to be filled. Except that it didn’t.

Of course it was a weekend, a Saturday , and one of the coldest days. It was Les to the rescue ringing up for emergency deliveries of heating [...]
Read More

Mud and Bricks

This morning the courtyard behind the Castle was unusually full of vans and cars as well as intermittent rain. There was a lot of activity with Steve the roofer and his team re-doing tiles and leaky roofs, as well as drippy gutters all while trying to fight the elements. The electricians were busy testing their works using space age style equipment with wires and lights flashing various colours. The plumbers are endlessly trying to solve a problem and following a labyrinth of pipes around the Castle and grounds.

I do my morning rounds to say hello to everyone and see how [...]
Read More

Copyright 2017 Lady Carnarvon · RSS Feed · Website Design by MAXX Design