Easter Sunday

We have held an Easter Egg hunt at the Castle in aid of Naomi House & Jacksplace hospice for some 12 years now. Naomi House offers a palliative care service whether for respite, for emergencies or for end of life care for children and young adults. It is wholly funded by donations, has amazing staff and volunteers and is the most wonderful charity for families in unbearable situations.


The idea for the day came to me after I visited the Hospice. I wanted to stage an event that would bring happiness and new supporters, as well as money, for the hospice. Hundreds, if not thousands, of children go on a treasure hunt through the grounds and gardens of the Castle looking for bunnies and other clues. I haven’t always got it right: in the early years I made one route far too short so that everyone was finished in 20 minutes; the following year, in compensation for my previous error, it was far too long and the weather was dreadful. Woebegone adventurers returned, bedraggled and somewhat unenthusiastic. Another year I forgot to protect the flower beds, so the gardeners were equally unimpressed and yet another year I ran out of Easter Eggs…..every child wins an egg at the end (there are masses this year). Finally I hope I have now got it just right.

Hares, bunnies and eggs have long been associated with Easter Sunday and the Resurrection, and so we use them in our hunt to support what is primarily a Church festival.


We have distributed leaflets to local schools and pray for no rain. We have merry-go-rounds, characters from Frozen, stalls selling all sorts of things and a bouncy castle outside the Castle. The Castle chefs bake hundreds and hundreds of scones.  In the afternoon the Naomi House organisers and I judge the Easter bonnets parade. This is the trickiest thing to do because, whilst adults put a brave face on things when they don’t win, children don’t. Occasionally we have tears which always make me feel terrible. Overall however, it is always a very happy day for both our visitors and the Castle staff.

Box 6 merge (2)

Box 6 merge (1)

29 Responses to “Easter Sunday”
  1. Marcia Phillips says:

    My daughter surprised me yesterday by bringing me for a birthday gift to see your lovely home. We even caught a glance of you working behind the scenes when getting our tea and scones with my grandsons. What a magnificent house and so nice to see the lady of the house making sure of the success of the day as well as reading of this generous event you will sponsor today. Good for you! And now for me as I will be the envy of all my co-workers at Old Salem when I return to North Carolina. LOVED being your guest this weekend! Hope you have a blessed Easter!

  2. Lynn B says:

    Happy and a blessed Easter to you and your. So glad we have dry sunny skies for this most glorious of days! Ah, to spring! Tank you for taking the time to post your updates and messages.
    Lynn B of London and CT, U.S. of A

  3. Julie Bailey says:

    What a wonderful event and for such a great cause! People enjoy having fun even if a few mistakes happen! That’s part of life!

  4. Peggy Helbling says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,
    You have a difficult decision ahead of you and the other Bonnet Judges today. Having only two pictures before me on the screen I couldn’t decide who was the winner. Both little angels and their hats are winners to me!
    You are doing a great service for your community. I applaud you.
    Fingers Crossed…dry and sunny day!

  5. Marilyn Peck says:

    Happy Easter, Lady Carnarvon,
    I read with interest about the Easter event at the castle. It sounded like a wonderful day for all who attended!
    I worked for 14 years as a medical social worker for a hospice here in Florida. My youngest patient was 2 weeks old and my oldest 104!
    The hospice team (nurses, chaplains and social workers) all tried to form a supportive and compassionate network around our dear patients and their families. We laughed with them. We cried with them. The care during their time with us and the bereavement care after our immediate service was no longer needed, were equally important. I forever hold the images of all of the above in my mind and heart. I am the better person for being a part of the hospice team.
    Thank you and thanks to all those who help you in supporting hospice efforts. It is a remarkable mission that hospice worldwide has….. Marilyn Peck

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      It was an incredibly busy day here – I hope it was a very positive day for the hospice, we have never had so many people here and I am simply in admiration of the care of the volunteers and nurses. You are so right – it is the after care too…

  6. Nancy Fenstermacher says:

    Happy Easter, I do hope that you got it just right this year and what a marvelous event for all of those who need some cheer and hope! Congrats for your doing this and I am sure all guests are delighted. Truly loved reading about it and really all bonnets look to be winners….⭕️

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      We have some great photos to share, and Spiderman, Batman and Elsa all judged the bonnets! They were all so good. it was a good day

  7. Jeanne Rife says:

    Do you know that one of the things about Highclere that impresses me most is that, with all the needs of Highclere itself, you still look for ways to serve others. How wonderful. Enjoy looking at all the young, happy faces!

  8. Gail Ann Thompson says:

    Yet another reason ancient homes, such as yours, have a meaningful place in today’s world. Your use of the castle’s resources to serve the community is to be applauded. Bravo!

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Thank you – it is heritage but for people, not just for bricks and mortar. We really have a great team here at Highclere from my PA Candice behind today and Pat and his operational team making it work on the day..They go every extra mile I ask!

  9. Victoria Hayes says:

    I enjoyed reading about the Easter event at the castle (I hope to visit one day). What a wonderful way to help others in celebration of our risen Savior.

  10. Diana Kiley says:

    You are such an inspiration! I love the thought of an Easter egg hunt at Highclere!

  11. susan collicott says:

    What a kind and wonderful event to put on in such a lovely location. Having had a brother in hospice I know that they are in constant need of funds and volunteers. Sounds like a wonderful day was had by all. Congratulations to you and your staff for supporting such worthy causes.

  12. Mary Beth says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvan

    You do some wonderful things for the community. You deserve many thanks.

    God bless you and your family
    Happy Easter
    Mary Beth

  13. Elizabeth Bogucki says:

    God bless you for finding time in your very busy schedule to host a wonderful day for a worthy cause such as hospice. My mom spent her last days in hospice care so I know how comforting it is for the family and the patient. I am sure that everyone had a marvelous day. My friend and I are counting the days until we visit Highclere in early September.

  14. Lady Carnarvon says:

    Hope to see you then! We just about got away with the weather today. God, on Easter Sunday, was kind.

  15. Vanessa Bus says:

    Dear lady Carnarvon,

    What an incredible day it was! Thank you for your hospitality, we are definitely coming again for Easter next year. Our 3 year old son loved his chocolate egg, the birds of prey, the merry go round and his favourite characters Batman and Spiderman. We just can’t get enough of your house, it’s stunning, from every angle. I’m glad you had such a good turn out for a great cause. Thanks again

  16. Carol Sawyer says:

    Surely Joy for all who attended and what a blessing you are to so many.

  17. Edna Blue says:

    I am in “awe” at the memory of Highclere ( I traveled there from the USA in August of 2014) and the vision of its lawn being a gracious place for many to enjoy as they search for those symbolic eggs of Christ resurrection. It is a Happy Day! The pictures were marvelous. I only saw the two hats and my vote is for the one with the large bunny on top – a darling creative idea. A great event for your home which is inviting and blooming with hospitality. My family used Hospice when my father was dying of a blood disease – they are truly angels. May this event bring much joy, help for Hospice, and comfort to those in attendance.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      It was a huge day with thousands of people – we had a star wars platoon too in white uniforms and masks – they were brilliant and a wonderful Spiderman and other characters. It was an amazing day!!! All our staff worked long into the evening with us clearing up and and Hospice team were fantastic too.
      There were masses of bonnets to judge – perhaps 50 in the two age groups – impossible!

  18. Karen pruitt says:

    What a beautiful setting for such a caring and generous event. You continue to inspire us with your generosity. I love the pictures but certainly would not be strong enough to shoulder responsibility for deciding Easter bonnet hat winners. :). Happy Easter from Texas!

  19. Maxula Pretto says:

    Lady Carnarvon. I was touched by the efforts of your staff , voluntaries and yourself , to create a happy event to the children of that hospice. It is a noble cause and you should be proud of it. Is so wonderful to watch the smiles of the little ones, having fun. May the Lord bless all of you always.

  20. Jennifer Schiller says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon:

    I had the great blessing of visiting Highclere from Colorado yesterday. The castle tour and visit to the Egyptian rooms were made all the more wonderful by the many happy adults and children having such a wonderful time at the festival. I didn’t realize my visit would be on such a special day. I even saw you zooming around with your walkie talkie – clearly very active in the workings of a complicated day! I admire your energy and astounding good will. Very well done, indeed! Cheers!

  21. Jeanette Hopkins says:

    I, myself, choose the darling in the bottom picture – I can’t decide if her face or the hat is the winner!

    Terrific event I’m sure is much appreciated by all!

  22. Fara Goodwin says:

    You make the world a better place when you make “Easter Magic.” Thank you.

  23. Balbina says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvan
    we came to visit Highclere Castle from Belgium, Brussels and we took part in Easter Egg Hunt with our two kids. We were very pleased to see then famous Castle and the stunning gardens, as we love watching Downtown Abbey. Thank you very much for organising the event, my family had a lot of fun! On the way back from the Castle to the parking space you offered me and my kids even the car lift which was very nice and appreciated 🙂

  24. Christine ONeill says:

    My son bought me the two books you wrote about Lady Almina and Lady Catherine plus tickets for a visit to Highclere with tea. We visited yesterday and had a wonderful time. Obviously the Castle is amazing but how we loved the grounds and the views and the weather was fantastic. I just wanted to say that having read your books, it made the experience even better. I was imagining the various scenes you write about so wonderfully. It was a truly magical day. So I would just like to say, thank you so much. Even if you are a Countess I’d love to give you a big hug to express my thanks, so I’ll do it as a cyber hug. Thanks again for sharing your beautiful home and grounds, truly a day to remember, God bless Christine

  25. Joyce Ruppell says:

    We just returned to the USA from a beautiful visit to Highclerc! We were actually touring all the “treasure Houses” of England (Blenheim, Chatsworth etc…) your home was our very favorite for it seemed like a real home with wonderful people! It was also a lovely sunny day and we enjoyed the beautiful gardens.
    Thank you for the work you do on behalf of those in need.

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