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Highclere Castle and the Ritz Hotel

Highclere Castle and the Ritz Hotel

The 6th Earl of Carnarvon, my husband’s grandfather, never had a house in   London: he simply stayed at The Ritz. Built during the reign of Edward VII on the  corner of Piccadilly, it emulated the classical French architecture, including the front arcades which echo those on the Rue de Rivoli in Paris.

 

 

  Both high society  and the press enjoyed the  opening party and it became hugely  successful.This  was in part due to a simple dearth  of hotel  space in London at the time – visitors    were even  using converted offices – but mostly [...]
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Love and all that

February can be quite a damp wintery month in England and we often get a scattering of snow or a sharp frost. However, there are two highlights: the first is Valentine’s day and the second is that February has only 28 days which should help Spring approach a little more quickly. For Valentine’s Day we have started asking guests to join us in the Castle for a tour and afternoon tea, or a reception with music  and drinks in the evening. Given most people work during the week,  we cannot always offer the 14th itself but choose the nearest weekend instead.

These [...]
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Tutankhamun

Tutankhamun

In 1922 the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun. It could be considered the first global world media event. It was, and is, a marvellous story about treasure, tragedy and of course, a curse. Despite the significance of the discovery, the first biography of Howard Carter was not written until 1972 and I have yet to write one about Lord Carnarvon!

So I sat down to watch last night’s  TV programme about the discovery of Tutankhamun with some anticipation. The problem for Highclere is that the 5th Earl was a real, not a fictional character. [...]
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First Class Stamps

One of my personal highlights of this year’s celebration of the tercentenary of the birth of the great landscape gardener “Capability” Brown has been the inclusion of Highclere Castle on a Royal Mail Stamp. It was long in the planning and had to be kept confidential which was difficult as I was so excited.  Professor Tim Mowl was the landscape expert helping to draw together the chosen few and I have thoroughly enjoyed working with him and the Royal Mail.

 

The postmen are part of our lives, their shorts sometimes worthy of comment in winter weather and one of them is [...]
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Trade Winds

I have been going into some detail researching the 4th Earl of Carnarvon as he appears in my next book. As usual, I get easily distracted. Henry Howard Molyneux Herbert, to give him his full name, was deeply involved in Victorian politics and held the post of Colonial Secretary in two conservative governments, initially under Lord Derby and then under Benjamin Disraeli. As Colonial Secretary, Lord Carnarvon decided to buy himself a yacht in order to carry out his duties.

 

 

It was called the “Marcia”, 165 tons, 94 ft 5” long, 20 ft 5” broad, 10 ft 6” deep; designed and [...]
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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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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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Game, Set and Coffee

Each day I try to take some sort of exercise, and Monday has become a favorite day of the week, because I start off at 9am playing tennis with three girlfriends. Despite the English climate we are usually lucky and continue in a little drizzle of rain, any more than that and we do have to retire for coffee because Sally, who runs the gift shop wears glasses which unfortunately do not have windscreen wipers. If the wind is blowing from the wrong direction and therefore across the court it is a very sporting game.

All the dogs watch us play. [...]
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Christmas

We alternate Christmas and New Year in the Castle, so this Christmas we are in Cornwall leaving Highclere for a few days safely in the hands of the home team. They may well patrol the corridors and galleries rather like the footman, Barrow, in Downton Abbey.  Around the Castle grounds they have found a number of tree limbs down and ducks swimming in ponds in the middle of the fields in the Park. Some shutters have forced open the windows due to the strength of the December winds, but we have been lucky, unlike so many people living in some parts of [...]
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Lest we forget….

Today’s minutes of silence and reflection are not merely for the Great War but for those who have suffered since then and who suffer today : soldiers and civilians; the doctors, nurses, charity volunteers and journalists who try to save lives and to broadcast the news to make us all aware of what is happening, thereby perhaps entreating all sides to sit down and talk.

Looking forwards eight months to next August, Highclere is going to be again transformed into a hospital. Almina Carnarvon one of my predecessors, rolled up her sleeves, designated herself head matron here and set about nursing [...]
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