From the Real Downton Abbey to the Tomb of Tutankhamun
Entering the park this weekend, playing the Downton Abbey music in the car or taxi, a few visitors may have then been slightly surprised to see camels on the lawns in front of the Castle. Highclere Castle however, has many stories to tell, and, in this case, the theme was the path to the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun: a Highclere Festival with Viking Cruises sponsoring our entertainment marquee, given they are ready to take you all down the Nile!
It is an extraordinary tale of two unconventional men, Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter, neither of whom had studied archaeology at university but both of whom, through experience and passion, found the most extraordinary tomb of a Pharaoh. It proved to be the first global media event but neither Lord Carnarvon nor Howard Carter sought nor enjoyed celebrity status.
This story of treasure and tragedy is so well known through school syllabuses, books and films, but Carnarvon’s role is not so well documented. Thus, we were seeking both to create an experience and a fun day out to share the story. The arrival story began with two wonderful camels, Max and Clio who were undoubtedly the celebrities of the day. Other displays explored the 5th Earl’s interests, early aviation, early cars, and we created our own sandy excavation site with re-enactors and of course there was music and dancing – Egyptian themed. To further our understanding Professor Joann Fletcher and Dr Daniela Rosenow offered fascinating talks, thank you.
The 5th Earl was something of an invalid for so much of his life but his personal motto anticipated that of Winston Churchill – Never Give Up. He was a skilled motorist and enthusiast for early motorcars so we had an exhibition of some wonderful early cars and motorbikes. Fascinated by the concept of aeroplanes, the 5th Earl provided premises and space for the early efforts of Geoffrey Moore Brabazon, Geoffrey de Havilland and Charles Voison hence the History of Flight tent and historic aircraft.
An outstanding photographer, Lord Carnarvon applied his skills to archaeology or motor racing, scenes of life or early planes, building a studio and a dark room in the Castle.
We do not have the Nile or sadly even a river to pretend, but we offered various pathways lined with facts about the Nile, and our own pyramids of sorts -tepee tents – filled with activities for children.
Above all, the 5th Earl’s passion was, however, for the ancient world of Egypt. After his death on the 5th April 1923, Howard Carter wrote some kind words about his friend and colleague, Lord Carnarvon. He hoped that Lord Carnarvon would be forever honoured for his achievements, but, rather like the Pharaoh whose tomb he found, his premature death meant that instead, he faded into the shadows over the succeeding decades.
Now, I hope, his story will come back to life just as the ancient Egyptians believed would happen as you were re-energised after death with the help of the sun God Ra, the kindness of Hathor and various other deities full of colour and drama.
We were so lucky with the weather and the weekend was full of sun, entertainment, talks for curious minds and good humour. Thank you to all who came.
Your festival must have been so much fun!! Seeing the palm trees and sand, the dancers and the neat camels!! What a day. We were able to visit the Egyptian rooms during out 2013 Highclere tour, and be entertained by the Downton Abbey rendition of the cars and racing. Thank you for another way to spend some time on a Monday morning with you!
Very enjoyable day!
Sounds so marvellous! Looking forward to my book arrival.
As always I enjoyed your story. Your language is so descriptive. It paints a picture of having actually attended the event.
Thank you for this blog. It’s is appreciated.
How wonderful, the exhibit, I will certainly pre-order the book! (delighted)
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Another spectacular event at Highclere Castle! Thank you for sharing this wonderful event with all of us!
Enjoy the beautiful weather whilst it lasts.
Cannot wait until Monday for another Highclere adventure or historical revelation
Best to you and Lord Carnarvon,
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I am filled with envy as I read your blog. The wonderful yet sad story of Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter is one of the reasons I studied archeology for my Bachelors degree at Memorial University of Newfoundland. I would have loved to have been at Highclere for the amazing festivities . I would say Max and Clio were the stars. I hope they behaved themselves and didn’t spit at the guests. So glad to hear it was a success.
Newfoundland and Labrador
No Max and Clio behaved themselves
Oh my Lady Carnarvon, what a festival to bring in and set up!
Wonderful that you, Lord Carnarvon, your staff and Viking Cruise (I love that company and their ships!) were able to pull together the connection again to the Egyptian discovery by your husbands Great Grandfather. So glad the weather cooperated (our areas are still recovering from hurricane Ian) and the autumn day was beautiful.
Thank you for the update and wonderful photos.
Congratulations on its success!
The weather was glorious!
We had a fabulous day yesterday. So well organised and full of historical facts. The picnic box was to die for and drinking champagne whilst listening to vintage music was the icing on the cake. We stayed from 8.30am until close. A memorable day for my husband and I. Thank you
We are still raving about it to our friends and family. By the way Max and Cleo were adorable.
Please you enjoyed the event
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
It looked like a perfect day with wonderful activities and speakers. I’m sure the dogs were very interested in the camels!
I confess to being a completely besotted fan of Highclere. And I am so thankful to Julian Fellowes and now you for giving us a glimpse into the world of this beautiful home. From the gardens and grounds to the exceptional beauty of the interior of the home I am entranced. It is a world that must be many things. But my supposition is that it takes a very determined and exceptional woman to make this all work.
As I watched Mary Berry create delicacies in your kitchen I must admit to feeling a bit jealous. Cooking and entertaining is my happy place. The place where I go when this crazy world begins to wear on my heart. Your kitchen is a delight and your chef is very talented.
We are honoring my Mother , Helen Sirios with a Great Gatsby party for her 96th birthday next month and I will be incorporating a bit of Downtown Abbey into the party with your delicious gin.
Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your home and life.
Highlands Ranch, Colorado. USA
Lady Carnarvon lovely pictures you send and did you and lord Carnarvon have a nice weekend and l am fan of Downton abbey and lovely to visit highcelere castle
Thank you for the send me blog
What a wonderful idea. Yes much more to Highclere Castle than meets the eye. We made a visit 6 years ago and toured the exhibit down the stairs.
You must come back to visit us again!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for the photos and the thoughts. You gave us a snapshot of what looked like a terribly fun event. I am sorry I missed it. I applaud you and your husbands’ efforts at keeping history alive. I enjoyed the virtual visit. PS- It was fun seeing you taking charge of the Camels.
So fun to see this email today as it marks less than 2 weeks away from my fantastic trip to Egypt on October 20, I feel so honoured that I was able to visit Highclere Castle, home of Lord Carnarvon, and come full circle to actually go to Egypt and see where this amazing story began exactly 100 years ago.
I will raise a glass to both Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter as I cruise down the Nile.
Thank you for getting me even more excited than I already am!!
It is hard to believe that it was 100 Years since the discovery of the Tomb.
Looking forward to your forthcoming Brook!
My book The Earl and the Pharaoh is out on 27th October 2022
Apreciada Lady Carnavon.
Maravillosa iniciativa, me gustaria que gracias al apoyo, financiamiento y determinacion del 5to Conde que hicieron posible el descubrimiento de la Tumba de Tutankamon y la de la serie y a la pelicuca Downton Abbey se sumara un nuevo logro, la de hacer posible un Carro Volador facil de construir masivamente para lo que estoy a la orden con mi patente. Saludos
Dear Lady Carnarvon: Oh what a great day it must have been. I would have loved to have been there. I have been to England, but it was before I got “The Downton Abby Addiction. We hope to make it back in a couple of year’s and Highclere is on my bucket list.
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
GOOD AFTERNOON FROM RIO CLARO, BRAZIL,
THE WEATHER IS GLORIOUS, WHAT A WONDERFULL WEEKEND AT HIGHCLERE CASTLE,BLUE SKY WITH WHITE CLOUDS, REMENBERING THE SKY OF EGYPT WITH THE SCORCHING SANDS AND PALM TREES. WOW, WOW, WOW. THANK YOU VERY MUCH.
RIO CLARO – SP
Dear Lady Caernarfon
Thank you once again for sharing your stories and allowing us into your magnificent grounds and home.
The camels appear to be quiet content.
I hope your day was successful and everyone enjoyed the day
Love reading your Monday blogs.
Kathleen from Canada
Very glad to discover the 5th Earl’s brave motto and to know that his success and results were achieved thanks to his passion, will power and determination! P.s. I hope that the camels and your horses have become friends…Best regards
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
It may interest you to know that the 5th Earl is featured prominently in the current exhibit: “Beyond King Tut – The Immersive Experience” at the National Geographic Museum here in Washington, DC. A rather handsome enlarged photo of Lord Carnarvon and Howard Carter takes up an entire wall, with the caption; “Carter telegraphed his English financial backer, Lord Carnarvon, who arrived in late November.” On the opposite wall is a more complete description under the heading, “Carter and Carnarvon” which states at one point; “Once Theodore Davis left, British aristocrat Lord Carnarvon acquired the permit for further investigations in the Valley of the Kings.” A fascinating exhibit…would love to show you some pictures but this forum does not allow for that option. It was such a delightful surprise to come across Lord Carnarvon in the exhibit, as I had no idea that he was connected with that historic discovery!
Mrs. Rainy Island Brooks
What a beautiful and well organized historical event.
I wish I could of been there.
This sounds so interesting! I’ve watched Downton three times and I confess it’s more to check out Highclere’s historical significance than anything else. I am fascinated by his contributions and actually looked it all up years ago when they show tipped it’s hat to him in the story lines. I look forward to visiting from the US hopefully sooner than later.
Thanks for all you do to share your family history with us all it is so wonderful ❤️
I know there is no comparison between the Queen standing between her favourite Fell’s, and you between Max and Clio but I couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought this conjured up for me.
That makes me laugh!!!
Your life is amazing! Love how you and your hubby are keeping traditions going!!! He hit the jackpot when he married you – we will return to Highclere 2024!!!!!!!!
Wish I could have been there to see this. The Earl does deserve much mor credit and recognition.
When taking a cruise on Viking, is a special event at Highclere always a part of the trip?
We offer Viking Cruises as many dates as we can
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I totally agree, that the 5th Earl has faded in recognition of his amazing dedication and achievement I Egypt.
I was absorbed by the story of finding the Tomb, as a schoolgirl, and was surprised to find out about the Earls involvement, when I was reading about Highclere and it’s history, before we came to visit in August 2019. Needless to say we enjoyed a wonderful day and the Egyptian Exhibition..
I have all your books and treasure them, my favorite is the story of Lady Almina, her dash in a chartered plane to Egypt to try and save her husband, such a brave woman in a time, when such a trip would have been unheard of. I will be ordering your new book as my Christmas present to me !
Reading this account of your weekend, I felt like I was there with you all and partly at the dig all those years ago. Can’t wait to come back to Highclere, hopefully in the next few years.
Was hoping to visit while here in London. No tickets ☹️
Hopefully another time
It sounded like such a wonderful day. I would have loved to have attended. As many who write to you have expressed you paint such a lovely picture of what it was like. I hope you’ll think about offering this again at some time in the future. I’ll be thinking of 5th Earl when I visit Egypt in January.
Thank you for all of your Monday morning blogs.
Thanks to Viking for sponsoring your event. They are always mindful of history and perpetuating the significance of a person’s contribution. The 5th Earl is still recognized in our text books and videos, but the benefactor is just briefly mentioned. I made sure the 6th grade class I helped, knew who made it all possible. Thank you for keeping the 5th Earl’s legacy alive! Next month I will see this legacy myself in the Valley of the Kings!
Enjoy your trip to the Valley to the Kings
Thanks to Viking for sponsoring your event. They are always mindful of history and perpetuating the significance of a person’s contribution. The 5th Earl is still recognized in our text books and videos, but the benefactor is just briefly mentioned. I made sure the 6th grade class I helped, knew who made it all possible. Thank you for keeping the 5th Earl’s legacy alive!
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your Monday blog and the make you feel as if you are there accompanying photographs.
I am glad that the weather cooperated so that everyone could have a good time.
I enjoyed reading the brief history you provided of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and his achievement of discovering King Tut’s tomb 100 years ago. I am looking forward to the presentation of your book on his life at the end of this month.
The Facebook and Instagram video with you leading the camels was quite entertaining. May I ask, did you have the opportunity to ride either camel?
Interesting, while Highclere’s festival was active, our local public television station was showing Season Three of Downton Abbey, of which I was viewing.
So, until next week, I wish you well.
P.S. Yesterday, Monday, October 10, was Canadian Thanksgiving.
No, I didn’t ride the camel!
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Found the Book on Amazon and Pre-Ordered it. Delivery will be on 6th of December. Would love to have gotten a signed copy but not certain of delivery from Highclere to the USA.
Must have been spectacular. My hubby and I visited Highclere Castle last August celebrating our 50th wedding anniversary and must say it was all I imagined I will forever hold this visit lovingly in my memory. Must say Lady Carnarvon Highclere Castle are so lucky to have you at the realm. Love Reading your blog
Kathleen Hogg Ireland
Just now seeing this one. So glad I did not miss it. That was quite a GALA! thanks for sharing this amazing reenactment.
Apreciada Lady Carnavon.
Gracias al apoyo, financiamiento y determinación del 5to Conde se hizo posible el descubrimiento de la Tumba de Tutankamón, el uso de los jardines del Castillo de Highclere para la Aviación incipiente, la pasión por los carros antiguos y últimamente la serie y la película Downton Abbey, será que ahora vendrá un nuevo logro que es la de hacer posible un Carro Volador fácil de construir masivamente y para lo que estoy a la orden con mi patente. Saludos,
thank you and good luck!
What did your horses think of the camels?
What a fun andm creative way to learn about history! Love your idea for pyramids. You would have made a wonderful teacher. But, then, that’s what you are doing! Have a wonderful weekend.
I’m so reminded of my own trip to Egypt, where Tutankhamen’s funerary riches were on display at the Cairo Museum. I also had the fortune of a Nile cruise, and the wonder of seeing farmers and their animals working crops right in the edge of the the water beside us.
I went in part for my father, who was always fascinated by Carter’s and the 5th Earl’s discoveries, as well as for myself as my father’s Egyptian interests rubbed off on me, and I have never enjoyed a visit anywhere so much.
And now I must visit Highclere.
My husband and I loved meeting you. You may remember us as best dressrd j
in rags couple. If you do have a contest next year as you said, I would love to show up for that.
This event was spectacular. As a historian and lover of architecture, it was a privilege to enter your home and walk your grounds.
Your book is splendid. It’s so interesting to dive into the story of the Earl and how he became the world renowned man he was.
Thank you again,