From Reindeer to Stormtroopers
I can hardly believe that I am sitting at the rather untidy circular table in my office with Sally from the gift shop and the Christmas Elf team, perched on bouncy balls and more normal chairs. We are already planning Christmas for 2019. Sally is particularly excited because she has already ordered one herd of reindeer and now declares she would like a second one. To my husband’s relief, they are made out of willow rather than live animals but nevertheless they are still of a reasonable size and I need to work out where to store them.
The old Sawmills is an area we have been slowly bringing back into estate life, rewiring the electricity supply, mending windows, gutters and doors and generally clearing up. “Downton Abbey” used it in a scene with Lady Edith driving a pony and trap and I think something went wrong, but it was an early episode… I am merely hoping nothing goes wrong for us. Trevor has been doing a great job filling skips and putting down type 1 (a hard floor base)in the sheds. David the Joiner will hopefully make some doors whilst new lighting and low level heating will take the chill off. Thus I will have a new shed for Sally’s reindeer which, I imagine, may be joined by other decorative purchases in due course.
It is a curious time of year here because, in another sense, we have only just finished Christmas 2018 as I have just put to bed my next book “Christmas at Highclere, the Real Downton Abbey”. Some time ago, my book agent, Ed Victor, lounged back in an armchair in the Library and drawled “Fiona, you should write a book about Christmas”. He has since sadly died but I hope he will be there for spiritual support as it goes to print. I have done as he said and combined stories, traditions, family, friends, recipes and photos. The landscape photographer Chaz, walked for miles in the snow last month capturing the elemental landscape in a seemingly never ending series of astoundingly beautiful photographs and Paul Winch-Furness completed the cooking photography of the dishes and feasts as well as other interiors.
I am quite sure it is not quite yet quite finished, I am no longer writing, however, until one in the morning. I can take a deep breath, go for a walk and with a clearer head, look forward to our up-coming plans.
We open to share the Spring Gardens and Castle with a family day out: our Easter Egg Hunt which is always tremendous fun. We create a treasure trail around the gardens and each child wins an Easter Egg and many come carefully bearing Easter bonnets again to win even more chocolate. The Stormtroopers are amazing and come to support the event. In the top photo they are checking out the treasure maps.
Then, in May, we are hosting a week of talks and tours around the subject of “Art and Architecture”. Speakers are now booked to engage and share their thoughts about great houses, interior decorating or the architecture of Highclere Park. As a finale, and to finish the week off, I have been utterly unable to resist inviting Kit and McConnel back to Highclere for an irreverent evening of laughter and cabaret. I may well conjure a rhyme to introduce them.
The highlight of June is the Downton Abbey Concert. I rather hope it will be a chance for guests to actually see some of the cast from of “Downton” at Downton, as normally the public cannot come in when filming is taking place. Equally it will be surreal sitting in front of the Castle watching it highlights on enormous screens.
As we open for the summer months, we pray for sunshine as it makes it so much easier for parking, not to mention so much nicer for our guests. This is especially true for the “Battle Proms” concert in early August of music, fireworks and picnics which remains another favourite of mine.
In early September we have a last hurrah for Summer with a ‘Costumes and Cocktails’ weekend with a good jazz band and dancing as well as vintage cars and so on before the Downton Abbey film comes out.
The Autumn has a number of bright ideas turning over in my mind to help create behind the scene tours in September and October.
From Easter Trails to Downton trails. Before you know it, it will be time for the reindeer to carefully peer out of their shed and see where they are needed. With Christmas workshops, carols, Christmas teas, a few ghost stories perhaps just as in my book and so the seasons go round and another year passes.
Thank you for post of all the exciting events to look forward to in the coming year. Even if some of us aren’t able to attend your events, we will be able to purchase your book and experience Highclere Christmas through your words and photos. I appreciate your blog and you sharing your life with us. I love the old elegance of the house and the long colorful history behind it, the awesome grounds, the dogs! Occasionally there is a photo of your pets napping on fancy furniture, love it, can relate! Looking forward to your book in 2019 and maybe by some stroke of luck, attending an event. Hopefully the book is a good-size coffee table style…: ) Best wishes, Jacqueline
I have so enjoyed the challenge of writing this next book – it is a good coffee table size but not as large as “At Home” … a practical and beautiful book
Lady Carnarvon, I love your blog and cannot wait for your upcoming book about Christmas at Highclere.
Lady Carnarvon –
My favorite photo in this blog post is you in the doorway of Highclere Castle at Christmas. Beautiful! I’m counting down the days to my visit there on May 7th. Trip to England to celebrate my 60th birthday.
Ina Sue Fox
Always delightful reading Milady…..
Warmest regards from South Africa
Good day Lady C,
I always enjoy reading your blog and look forward to hearing more about all of the marvelous goings on there. Concerning your autumn events, I have an idea I would love to share with you concerning your guests and the horses, particularly your Arabian horse(s). I will see if I can find an email on your site that I could send this to. It is something I feel you may particularly enjoy concerning some of your blog posts about your horses.
Here in North Texas, we are finally having some sunshine. A woodpecker is going mad in the yard, the robins are chuckling, and the frost has just turned to dew. The trees are starting to awaken, and the buds are just barely turning green with new leaves.
I look forward to seeing more of your stories!
I can pick up your email … I love my horses!!
What a wonderful preview of Highclere Castle’s plans for 2019! Having visited in 2013 and enjoyed all seasons of Downton Abbey, it is fun to “see” these happenings in my mind’s eye. Thank you for your excellent descriptions of things to come!
Just finished your book “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey”. It was great and recommend to everyone. I have so much more to look for when I come in May. You did a great job giving such great history. I feel as I know all the previous history and family by your great and detailed history given. Thanks so much. It was a gift from my husband for Valentine’s Day. Now on to Lady Catherine. So glad to see a Christmas book is in the making. Great job.
Visiting in August via Viking excursion. I am so excited, like a child at Christmas .
that is wonderful – I love Viking Cruises!
Well, as they say in film production… that’s a wrap! You bring a busy and blessed,happy year to many. Be safe and happy within allyou plan.
Regards, Sr. Diane
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What a wonderful life you have! You live the fairytale all young girls dream of. I know it must be quite a task for you but you make it look so easy, running the estate, writing books, writing your blog just in awe of you and all you do! I’m an avid Downton fan and am bursting with excitement for the movie debut, and hoping for many more! The lives of all of Downton can’t end with just one movie! We want oh so much More.
I hope Downton will carry on too!
Lady Carnarvon … You are a jewel.
The year ahead sounds exciting and exhausting. I wish for you good weather, good health and lots of energy. Christmas will be here before we know it!!!
So excited to revisit Downton in 2019 and always looks forward to your blog. When will your Christmas book be on the shelves in the US?
I hope it will come out for September ..
Lady Canarvon, I must have that gorgeous cranberry jacket you are wearing in your photo at the front door of Highclere. Who makes it, if you don’t mind me asking. I am fairly certain we do not travel in the same circles and there would be no conflict. : )
It is an old favourite coat I have had for years.. I will look and see who made it
I love your blogs as always. This one was a special treat. Christmas, Easter , Champagne and Cabaret. And thank you for the visuals. You started me thinking about the coming year. I appreciate the inspiration.
Phyllis Simpson, USA
Good morning Lady Carnarvon,
I love reading about your “behind-the-scenes” work at Highclere. When I first began reading this morning, I thought for a brief moment that perhaps you and Sally were contemplating LIVE reindeer, and I thought – How very charming! But the wicker reindeer are equally delightful, and probably much easier to manage…
I am looking forward to your new book! I loved “Lady Catherine” and am enjoying “Lady Almina” very much. It would be much more fun to buy the new book when I visit on Mother’s Day, but it will depend on suitcase space, as usual.
Now I must determine just how to budget to stay from Mother’s Day until the concert!
Thank you for your blog,
Joan in Saint Louis, Missouri, USA
Mother’s Day will be fun – you are having tea in the Dining Room!
I am looking forward to your Christmas book and the movie in September. Happy Spring to Highclere!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
As always, thank you for sharing your upcoming plans for Highclere Castle’s 2019 events. I want to share an interesting fact about my ancestors with you (I am 99% British, including Scotland, IIreland and Wales): yesterday, on Ancestry.com I discovered that my 9th Great Grandparents, name of Lewis, were from Carnarvon, Wales – that certainly got my attention! We visit grandchildren in Scotland from time to time (they seem more inclined to come our way, to Florida!), and hopefully we’ll find time to stop by Highclere one of these days.
All the best,
I do hope you will stop by..
Dear Lady Carnarvon – I am a faithful reader of your blog! Thank you for the lovely stories. The picture of you peeking out the front door is absolutely stunning! Brings back delightful memories of visiting your beautiful home.
Regards from Texas!!
Your late book agent knew exactly what he’s talking about. I’ll buy your Christmas book sight unseen.
That is good news – I keep thinking of Ed!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
SO much wonderful information about coming events, I fear I’ll have to read it twice to make sure I have gotten it all. You give back to the public, and share not only your beautiful Estate, but both of you give of yourselves and that is so important these days. Thank you for caring the way you do. Your gift of ‘giving back’ and ‘sharing’ with so many is quite an undertaking to say the very least, but you have a ‘gift’ to know how to share, and you do it SO well. I love reading your Blogs, and the pictures and videos are beautiful.
Thank you, again.
Sincerest Regards, Jane Hrabak
Thank you for your kind comments!
It sounds like a great line up of events at Highckere — I will be attending in my armchair!
I am excited about the Christmas book and will be looking forward to it — will it be out in 2019?
I love❤️❤️ reading about what is going on at the castle — thanks for sharing and making Monday morning special every week.
It will be out – I sent all the text off on deadline .. although some recipes are coming back with comments to check already!
What an interesting calendar of events for 2019! Everything carefully detailed to provide your guests with an amazing experience when they visit Highclere.
Looking forward to your Christmas book, is there a projected publishing date?
The photograph of you standing in the doorway is a perfect introduction, so warm and welcoming!
Thank you for sharing all that goes in to the planning and creating stages. It is truly fascinating!
Christmas arrives in September!
Like others, I too think that is a wonderful Christmas photo of you in the Castle doorway. Definitely one for your family album.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What an exciting year ahead. I was present in December 2018 and so enjoyed the dinner and especially meeting you! I have read all of your books and will now look forward to this new one. I am certain Christmas at Highclere will be better than ever. I look forward to a return visit.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
It is so difficult to decide when to visit! If it were up to me, I would move to England and be there for every event. I would even offer to volunteer at the Castle. But, I’m in Florida, so I have to chose. The tea sounds delightful. How wonderful to enjoy it in the Dining Room! I know if it is done at Highclere by YOU, it will be fabulous. I doubt I can attend so soon, but I will be there in my imagination.
I am a member of the DAR here in the US. While I understand that might not be the most favorite organization in England, it is very civic minded and they do a lot of charitable work. Next Saturday, March 2, we are having a full afternoon Tea with George and Martha Washington (re-enactors). I am excited to see what is offered at the Tea. I’m hoping for Scones and Clotted Cream with lots of Jam!
Bless you, Lady Carnarvon. I have been in your company several times when we visited and you are so kind and generous with your time. I treasure my photos which remind me of the wonderful time we spent there.
L. Sue Smith
I hope they are using my recipes – I have a letter from Martha Washington in my archives
Lovely photo of you at the front door!
I vaguely remember you saying you were looking into coordinating transportation to the June concert on the lawn from London. Wondering if anything has happened with that as I’d love to bring my mother for her 80th birthday but would prefer not to drive.
Keep on keeping on with all of your innovative ideas!
Kim from Chicago
I can see tickets and hotels w TicketMaster and NBC LiveNation
I will ask them as it must be a good idea!
I’m quite late to the party and have just started reading your blog. My sister and I are planning a trip across the pond and one of our stops hopefully will be the concert in June. Thank you for sharing a bit of your life in your beautiful home. I’m enjoying Downton again for the umpteenth time with my tea at the end of each day.
Wonderful ! I miss it on Sundays….
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Another wonderful blog, and some wonderful events coming up, can’t wait for September when the Christmas book will be out and on my shopping list.
Best wishes for the coming events.
Thank you – it is always quite an odd feeling holding the book at first – the result of words and thoughts and journeys – I have really found this book was a journey of understanding about what we all share
Oranges and cinnamon!!
Love them both!
Hi Lady Carnarvon,
I had been wondering if, together with the film’s UK distributors, you guys would be hosting the UK premier of the Downton Abbey movie? (Perhaps like a Moonlight or Outdoor cinema on the lawns at Highclere?) Can you imagine how awesome it would be – with everybody dressing up as their favourite characters or simply in period dress and perhaps VIP cocktail packages meeting some members of the cast etc. Well we can dream…
Take care – and thanks again for an awesome blog!
I would love to host a screening here and it would be great to share with a charity too – but it is NBC’s decision rather than mine!!! It would be fun
wow Lay Carnarvon, what an exciting year lined up. Such wonderful and varied events. I would love to attend them all but alas Australia is a long way away!. thank you for such varied and interesting blogs. Love to read them.
I hope we will have some videos to share!
I can relate to the feeling of holding a Christmas book you have written. I wrote and illustrated, “The Earth Waited”. What a wonderful feeling of accomplishment and amazement.. Thank you for all your information. I have visited England quite a few times, the last was last summer with my daughter and some of my granddaughters and will be back again, the Lord willing. This time a trip to Highclere will be in the planning. So lovely to read your blog.
Thank you -Unlike the earth I am not sure people wait!
Another wonderful blog. Oh my goodness, Christmas in February!. It will be here before we all know it. Looking forward to your book release. You do certainly have a busy, exciting and big year. As I have mentioned before, will be visiting your beautiful home in September, I believe after the premiere. Actual dates have not been confirmed.
Have a wonderful week and Spring!!
Autumn is lovely here and I think we can bring some fun to the tours!
Hello Lisa! I live in LaGrange Park,I’ll
What an exciting and wonderful year to look forward to! I hope as each event unfolds you’ll share with all of us who can’t be there. And as soon as that new book is published it will be have a home with all my Downton books – I can hardly wait!
You are kind – I think/hope feel nervous about the book!
Don’t worry – everyone I know, including me, has loved the previous titles! I have great faith that the new one will be terrific!
It is so lovely to read about the plans you have for the coming year, and keeping the house alive and full of joy. Seeing your photos of the old saw mills is a wonderful reminder of the activities, skills, and people who lived and worked at Highclere, not just a house but a community, and long may it continue to be so. Likewise very excited about the film and your book, spreading the joy. Thank you.
The sawmills are amazing and in some ways it bringing back the estate and the craftsmen to this area
Thank you for including us in your daily life at Highclere. I am impatiently waiting the premier of the new Downton movie, while standing among 6 foot high snowbanks and drifts in Sogn Valley, Minnesota, USA.
We have such warm weather here …an odd world sometimes
Lady Carnarvon, Thank you so very much for your blog, I totally enjoy receiving it in my email and get to see all the great and wonderful things you are doing. I absolutely loved the Champagne and Cabaret clip on YouTube that you posted It sounded like everyone had a marvelous time! wish I was there A faithful admirer of yours and the castle and its wondeful history Thank you and Bravo to you Love always, Andrew
Kit and Mcconnel are fun – those are good moments in life
I am so excited about your book. I will be preordering it the minute it becomes available.
Vancouver Island, Canada
I can’t wait to visit!♥️
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What an incredible year for you already, let alone what waits in store for you and your guests over the rest of the year. I don’t know how you have time to take breath and even diarise just half of your forthcoming activities.
And then, somehow you find time to write another book! Einstein theorised that gravity could bend time but I think that you have mastered that “art”,
Speaking of time travelling by ever so quickly, we are now at the end of the second month of the year. Wasn’t yesterday just New Year’s Eve?
Congratulations and best wishes for every success with the publication of your new book about Christmas. I am very much looking forward to reading your words and in viewing the wonderful photos that you have mentioned. By the way, that certainly is a stunningly beautiful photo of you at Highclere’s front doors at Christmas.
Also, congratulations on all the wonderful activities that you have planned for the year and the joy that you bring to all who visit (and even just read) about Highclere.
You are very kind – I very much enjoy the community which I feel is developing around this blog!
DEAR LADY CARNARVON:
WHAT A DELIGHTFUL BLOG. WOW!!! 2019 IS GOING TO BE AN EXCITING YEAR AT HIGHCLERE!!!
I AM LOOKING FORWARD TO YOUR NEW BOOK, I LOVE CHRISTMAS, WHAT A WONDERFUL TIME OF YEAR.
I AM VERY TEMPTED TO COME FOR THE EASTER EGG HUNT WITH MY NIECES!!!
I AM FILLED WITH JOY TO SEE THE DOWNTON ABBEY MOVIE. IT IS A DECEMBER SHOWING FOR ME IN CANADA.
ORANGEVILLE, ONTARIO, CANADA.
For clarification Lady Carnarvon, in case you see my name as Kristy on the e-mail, that is my short form. I rest assure Christina and(Kristy) are the same person. LOL. I am using this e-mail right now because my other e-mail is not working.
It is Christina who sends you a Christmas card every year.
Thank you – I am visiting Canada at the end of April – I have events, talks, in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto. I am looking forward to it !
Thank you so very much for your blog. I may have missed it, would you please tell me where I may purchase (or advance purchase) your book?
From the foothills of Mt. Rainier – Washington State, US
I will let you know re the book – it is in to production and will be ready for sale early September ..
Such a delightful posting! I just adore that photo of you in the red sweater. It is such an imaginative and sassy piece of clothing! I enjoyed the Downton song – a clever piece of writing. I do wish that I lived a bit closer so I could attend each and every marvelous event. I am looking forward to your new book, the prospect of a new book must bring you much joy, However, I am sorry for the loss of your book editor. May God give you peace.
I can not wait to own your next book. I am sure it will be wonderful. I am still reading Lady Almina; taking my time as usual. It is a entertaining and beautifully written story.
Back from Paris and reading my email- I missed your postings. Once again I am so impressed at your vision for Highclere and the work you have scheduled with completion dates. By any chance, do you maintain Gantt charts on everything?
Like many fans of Downton Abbey, I am waiting for the movie. As a genealogy hobbyist, I discovered some interesting connections and will have them reviewed by a professional before I visit Highclere & a few other locations. Downton’s story of how world events affected one particular family touched my soul deeply for personal reasons.
I so appreciate your sharing your life and your love of horses is close to my heart, too. Wishing you the very best with your projects, plans & events.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
CONGRATULATIONS. HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK AND SPRING.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
CONGRATULATIONS. HAVE A WONDERFUL WEEK AND SPRING.
I wonder where you find the time to respond to blog posts: it must be a great “down time” activity? Thank you.
I am so looking forward to your new book, which will add to my growing collection. Of course, you will let us know when it hits the books stands, especially across the pond.
I respond when I can, when I have a moment (usually with a cup of coffee). Sometimes it is quite late at night when everything is calm.