Despite being no great distance from London, Highclere remains a calm green breathing space not just for visitors but for a diverse wildlife as well. I love the spectacular Castle but I love the landscape just as much: the trees, hills and valleys that are so particularly English. It is humbling to realise that we are simply a small part of a long line of people who have made this area home. There may well have been a greater variety of plants, birds and insects in the past but our predecessors would still recognise the sheep, horses, arable fields, woodland and wind belts that you can see today.
In recent years, however, we are all once again beginning to recognise the importance of diversity. At Highclere the population of threatened bird species such as lapwings is increasing. Stone curlews nest on the stubble plots, beetle banks are left to develop and wildflowers are being planted alongside arable farmland. There are gentians underneath the Temple of Diana and rare fungi along the slopes of the hillside in the autumn. If trees fall down we are now allowed in some areas of the park to leave them so that they can become a haven for wildlife. In one field an old Sequoia lies on its side, yet continues to regenerate.
This week my husband was out on the farm near Crux Easton putting out extra feed for the farmland birds, like the finches and larks, who do well at Highclere but appreciate a little help at this time of year. There are some Barn Owl boxes in the old farm buildings there and he managed to get a wonderful photo of one of them.
Despite our efforts though the keepers and tractor drivers tell us that, when they were young, the trailers bringing in the harvests used to be so full of beetles and insects that it all had to be sifted. It’s nothing like that now. For all our watchfulness, it is a complex relationship between tranquility and the needs of visitors, the requirements of modern farming and the need to treasure and preserve the ancient trees and unimproved grassland areas.
The photo of the owl is spectacular! Were it not for concerned dwellers like your family, so much of God’s beautiful earth would continue to disappear. It takes perseverance and dedication to do all that you accomplish. Thank you for that. Here in Rochester, Michigan, the developers have raped our land, and we actually have to pay to keep our green space undeveloped. Fortunately we have a nature preserve behind our subdivision. It is called Dinosaur Hill (a child thought the hill in front resembled a dinosaur, hence the name) and is a lovely place to stroll through and enjoy the changing seasons and landscape. All manner of birds and plants are readily seen there and it is a delight for the eye and soul. I found your blog after I became a fan of Downton Abbey and so enjoy your tales of life in the castle. God bless till next time.
My wife and I were so looking forward to a visit in late May as we love the architecture and landscape of Highclere. Sadly all tickets are sold out and will travel to England and leave without being able to visit our dream destination.
That owl is so beautiful. Thanks for sharing
I have a fabulous idea to help both funding for the HIGHCLAIRE CASTLE wildlife, children and the advertising of the castle and it’s heritage. Here in the US there are several LIVE CAMS that are set up above Eagle and Falcon nests where one can watch 24 hours a day the nesting of the Eagles, Falcons and Owls.I have 2 links here that the first one is the number ! Live Cam online. I myself have become addicted to the site.
God Bless Your Family!
There always seems to be conflict to preserve the past and welcome the future doesn’t there?
Thank you. You made my morning. I became nostalgic about early years spent in a displaced people’s camp in Kelvedon, Essex. As kids we roamed the farm fields, chased rabbits, learned about the various beautiful flora and fauna. And I could almost taste the frais de bois that my mother had me gather into a little tin mug. Such deliciousness rarely found in the U.S I so appreciate your lovely notes about the castle. Please don’t stop. Gratefully, Anne
Thank you for sharing the amazing owl picture. I can only imagine roaming Highclere’s countryside and comparing the present with the past. It must be a daunting yet rewarding task to preserve the various plants, animals, and insects that call Highclere home. I’m so appreciative of your willingness to share such a glorious place with us in other areas of the world! Highclere seems to be magical past or present.
I can only imagine how beautiful your countryside is, I hope to see it one day!! I’m sure it’s absolutely lovely! We feed our backyard birds and deer here as well, need a little help this time of year! I live in the state of Michigan USA, it has been a very cold winter this year. Thank you for sharing, and I look forward, as always to reading your blog!
Oh so dear to my heart are Owls. I have a Barn owl and a Screech owl in my backyard. I smile from ear to ear each and every time I heard them. Wildlife is so wonderful. Thanks again for a wonderful posting,Jacquie
It certainly is a fine balancing act to live alongside nature. We live in Orlando, Florida on a small property with a natural Preserve as our backyard neighbor. We can hear hawks, owls and bald eagles at night. We lived only one mile from DisneyWorld’s Magic Kingdom so we can also hear the whistle blow when the old steam engine is running along the tracks. The two worlds have learned to live together in peace.
Your blog is such a joy to read. I also have your calendar and keep it close-by so I can enjoy Your home, as well as My own.
I, too, have the calendar. I love the pictures, though it took me some time to get used to the week beginning on Monday instead of the U.S. traditional Sunday. Highclere was the highlight of my vacation last year.
The calendars are great reminders of the views for all of us here – we have just finished setting out our 2016 !
I went riding yesterday and so enjoyed the views, it is the way to see the landscape.
I love the way the owl can swope past and you do not hear them! I grew up on a farm and loved watching them swope into the trees around the house and garden. Thank you for the reminder of my youth.
Great pictures of the owls. I have several screech-owls around in the area and also a wood-owl. Little owls are often seen or heard. In the back of my garden there is a large area, untouched, with trees and bushes where a fox has been housing for years and I know there are other “guests”. I love it. No one goes there. Too difficult as the dense underwood is stopping any effort to cross the little hill downside. There is a farmer – but he does not really farm – who does not like it and who has cut all the trees and hedges on the edges of his land, but he does not come too close to my wild garden. I have beehives and the busy “honey-flies” do not like tractors. So he keeps at a distance! We have talked much about it, but he is quite stubborn when we talk about environment. The only thing he is interested in is… money. I think he is waiting to buy that part of the property. After my death! I hope I will live until 100 years. Makes me chuckle when I think about it. Sorry… Diane
We have bee hives here – and try to think about late flowers to support them into the Autumn. We need the bees and trees to live here on this planet, I just wish we could all slow down a bit!
This is one of your very best blogposts… I’m so glad you are taking care of the land as well as the house!
Thank you for share so beautiful world! I like very much to follow you because is good to know that there are a country life well preserved and loved yet.
Hello Lady Carnarvan
The owl is so beautiful. I often lie in bed late at night and listen to pairs of great horned owls calling to one another. What a pleasure to hear them. I admire and appreciate your understanding of the balance between nature and humans. The importance of a dead tree is often overlooked by people, they see it only as an eyesore not the primary home for woodpeckers. People like you and your husband who have the knowledge and the land and the willingness are extremely important to the conservation and preservation of wildlife and land. Any large land holder could take a lesson from the practices at Highclere. I have a relatively small back garden, but it is so full of bushes and trees it looks like a jungle, but every little bit helps. Do you have any bee keepers at Highclere? The loss of our bee population is really scary. Well enough for now. I really love “talking” to you!
Until next time
I just replied above about bees! We sell their honey here too. It is all done by Pat Withers and her husband Mike, who are a gorgeous couple. They have worked here, decorating, for some 55 years now. For a hobby they keep the bees here.
A very poignant reminder to all of us that Mother Nature got it right the first time.
Perhaps, eventually, the entire planet will benefit from acknowledging what you’ve said so well.
that was a lovely read thank you
We have sea birds here and we particularly never get tired of watching eagles either on the shore or in the tops of high trees. Some tall trees here have been designated eagle trees and they are not allowed to be cut down. Our garden is just over three years old and the trees and plants have really grown during that time and different species of birds enjoy a “stopover” in our yard. It sounds like you are really trying to keep the land productive and “healthy”.
I live in a small town in Pennsylvania, United States. I am such a huge fan of all the Castles all over the world. But I have been searching all the information on your Castle. I am in love with the Castle and all the beauty. I watched the T.V. show with your castle in it. The rooms are so elegant. I absolutely LOVE all the antiques. Such beauty. I have also been interested in Egyptology all my life. I have read almost everything on Tut’s rein and I really would love to see all the antiques from his tomb.I watch everything on Egypt on t.v.or on dvd. You and your husband are so fortunate to live in Highclere and enjoy all the splendor that is Highclere. I would really enjoy it if you respond to my comments. All my best, Lana Lutz.
Thank You for you’re speedy reply. I never missed an episode of Downton Abbey. You, and your Husband own a beautiful estate. I’d like to tell you a little about myself. I live in Riverton, Wyoming 160 miles away from Yellowstone National park. The elevation is about 5,400 ft. this area of the state is mostly agricultureal. The winters here are almost 5.5 months long, and pretty cold. About 3 weeks ago the night time temp was -29 below zero. It’s warming a little. We have many large animals, small animals, and lots of birds. About 14 miles out of town, there is , eagles, hawks, cougars, rattle snakes, foxes,coyotes,racoons, owls,wild mustangs,mule deer,moose, skunks, big horned sheep. The wolves haven’t came this far south yet. I also volunteer at our local animal shelter, and help them with mean dogs. I’m retired, since my health is improving I’m , going to spend more time with some dogs with behavorial problems. I would like to visit England some day, It’s on the top of my bucket list. Sincerely, Rod Laird
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
This is my first time posting here but so glad I found this. I love wildlife, castles and history. So this ticks all the boxes. As a Londoner I try to get outside Tottenham and along our local rivers and parks. It’s a pleasure to read of your work with wildlife on the estate. Stating the obvious now, but I’m sure Downton Abbey can’t even begin to display the magnificence of the estate. I am however transfixed by the castle and it’s interiors on the show. How can we purchase a calander please?
Many thanks for your time
What a rewarding responsibility to be the keepers of such magnifigance.
Whether in England or Pennsylvania, we all share a responsibility to mix the protection of nature, with the pleasure of sharing it beauty with humans. Owl’s always seem charming, while also being mysterious.
I love it when your blog arrives. I live in Zambia Africa and it gives me a little bit of England.
I concur with others…many thanks for sharing the photos of the owl, Lady Carnarvon.
Loved reading this lovely blog post, Lady Carnarvon, and seeing in my mind’s eye your beautiful English Countryside. Living in Winchester, Virginia, in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley, we also have much wildlife, many kinds of birds, including owls, bears, foxes, groundhogs, moles, possums and skunks, herds of deer … and now, prowling around our home, a bobcat! Our beautiful environment is a very precious gift to us which we all need to work together to protect.
I have just come across your blog while looking up tours for Highclere Castle while dreaming about visiting England. The entries I have read entice me to visit even more. My daughter just spent 13 months in England and loved it., now she is back in Australia she longs to go back on a more permanent basis when finishing university. Downton Abbey is one of my favorite shows, the castle and the grounds look so beautiful and look as though if they could talk, they would have many stories to tell. Look forward to reading more.
I live in a community outside Nashville, Tennessee. We have just begun to see our first hints of Spring after a much colder winter than usual here in the southern part of the United States. Our neighborhood was at one time a much larger wooded area with lots of deer and smaller animals that we saw occasionally. Now the deer roam the yards in our neighborhood more often as they are slowly losing their natural habitat. I have not seen Owls but love these lovely creatures and would enjoy if they were residents near my home. As a devoted fan of Downton Abbey, I was thrilled that your lovely home was open to visitors certain times of the year. I am hoping to visit this year in August and look forward to viewing some of the beauty you so eloquently speak of in your posts.
Yes I identify with your description of the local English countryside. Wish I could see it again as I originally come from East Yorkshire. Hopefully this year. All the best to you and yours my Lady.
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