It is summer in England so it must be raining and, on this particularly damp Saturday evening, I found myself sitting in our tearoom marquee whilst Robert (security) and Paul (parking) tested the reception and call signs for our new temporary amateur radio station.

Given my heritage is partly Scottish, and Robert (security) is Scottish, it is important to note that it was a Scotsman who first predicted the existence of radio waves (James Clerk Maxwell), although the theory was developed by a German (Heinrich Hertz). Radio itself was then apparently invented by the Italian Guglielmo Marconi who sent and received his first radio signal in Italy in 1895. Four years later he managed to communicate across the English Channel so really radio is all about European cooperation, with the end result being communication and industry.

Scottish Robert promoted and led the way for Highclere’s temporary radio license: GB2HCC (Golf Bravo 2 HighClere Castle). He had just finished setting up the antennae when John, the Castle Manager, called him into the office asking for a guarantee that it was all securely fixed. Robert assured him it was and, then, grinning widely, John pointed out of the Castle window towards the lime tree and asked whether that was a radio aerial lying on the ground …. There really has been a lot of rain so Robert raced out to fix it again. It stayed up this time.

Despite our initial setbacks, we spent an industrious evening having fun with amateur radio enthusiasts around the world.  Robert began to link to Germany, Morocco, Canada, South Africa, the USA and France as well as the UK. There were also some fishermen way up north in Scotland who were apparently using strong language but luckily their accents were so broad that they could really say what they liked without causing offence. Robert was very much at home, twiddling his dials and obviously familiar with the International Radiotelephony Spelling Alphabet as in Alpha, Bravo, Charlie etc. For me it was a small insight into a whole new world.  I learnt about the different prefixes for each country, the conventions and licensing and above all the camaraderie which was wonderful.

A little later Genny appeared with supper, followed by some left over scones from the tearooms. John had long gone home which I had quietly thought quite a good thing as his idea of brevity of words on the radio is not quite the same as everyone else’s. The word ‘soliloquy’ springs to mind! When I left a little later, Robert and Paul spent several more hours exchanging news with enthusiasts all around the globe.

This radio event has also been part of Robert’s project to raise awareness and money for Lupus, a cause close to his heart and home, through his call sign GOWYD and with the help of a number of very kind sponsors including ICOM, and Yaesu who helped procure the equipment.

The antennae is still up so we might try it again!

37 Responses to “GB2HCC”
  1. Jane Salemson says:

    Fascinating insight to amateur radio, and your efforts for charity. Where would we be without radio (especially the BBC for us expats?)
    Thanks for sharing. Those cream scones look to die for, I’m drooling and homesick

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      It is a new world for me – and yes the scones were good. The main thing for me is to share, then I just have the half!!!

  2. GeoffreyBounds says:

    Amateur radio is something I’ve always wanted to do. I worked for a small Sheriffs Department In Northwest for a few years, often times I would give the dispatchers breaks throughout the night. Though most modern systems in neighboring countries had tone set frequency identifiers, We had to say our call number manually every 30 minutes. I think it would be so neat to talk to people around the world on a radio. And leave it to Highclere to take something cool and make it for a great cause.

  3. Marc La Mothe says:


  4. Susan Willis says:

    Thank you for a very charming read! I thoroughly enjoyed it on this rainy morning in Florida!
    Susan Willis

  5. Natalie Graham says:

    So fun to hear about your broadcasting efforts at the Castle! I’ve always been curious about it but not enough to really dig around and try it out. Fascinating and it would be a hoot to talk to so many different parts of the globe!

    I’m with Jane Salemson and I want to climb into the picture to get to those scones… doesn’t help that it’s lunchtime here where I am, I guess!

    Thank you for another fun post, Lady Carnarvon! Hope you have a great week.

    Summerville, South Carolina, USA

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      I will do a scone cooking video – I have recorded a few things already, for example a summer crumble, and I think scones should be on the next day’s filming!

    • Vera Zima says:

      I am looking forward to your cooking video, dear Lady Carnarvon. While visiting your castle, we’ve had a chance to taste those small “Victorian cakes” and they were delicious. I’ve bought your book which you kindly signed and eagerly followed your recipe for them. Would you like to do a video making those? I remember the smooth cream and the texture of the cake. The recipe asks for a whipping cream, but honestly – here in Canada it will not do it. I reached for the Devonshire cream. Is it really the whipping cream which has been used for those lovely cakes in your cafeteria?

      Thank you very much for the warm welcome and your presence during our visit. I could feel the warmth of your personality. Your house is so grand and beautiful and yet – it feels nice and “homey”, but you already know that. I am sure that Lady Almina is helping and loves you too. So many people are seeing your home, protect it and cleanse it on regular basis to keep nice energy there. I wish you all the best from the bottom of my heart.

      Vera Zima

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      Thank you for your kind comments. I believe the cream you need is called heavy cream in Canada

  6. Chrissy says:

    This “chapter” was hilarious! Good on you for being tenacious enough to keep the antenna up – and I’m drooling from the pic of the scones – YUM!!!

  7. Solveig Peck says:

    Great fun! The photo of the scones made me very hungry! I have a cousin who got his initial ham license back in the day when one had to know Morse code. When his Collie dog had 5 pups, he named them Alpha, Bravo, Charlie, Delta, and Echo.

    • Lady Carnarvon says:

      I became a little better about with the alpha, bravo charlie alphabet, it was somehow very reassuring.Good dog names !

  8. Kathy Stewart says:

    So comical and so British/Scottish in determination!! Thank you for another chapter of Highclere Castle and a look at those scones. Niagara-on-the-Lake in Ontario, Canada, has a bakery with the most delicious scones, so thankfully, they are not too far away. Do have a good day. Kathy

  9. darcie says:

    Those scones bring me right back to the lovely August afternoon we enjoyed those and visiting with you on the back lawn-so wonderful to meet you on top of our fabulous day at the Abbey 😉 Downton fans from Oklahoma, USA felt like we were family for this once in a lifetime visit! I’m really enjoying your blog!

  10. Wanda says:

    Your gracious and gracefully elegant writing on interesting topics always lifts my spirits. What a great way to start a Monday! Thank you.
    Northern Virginia. USA

  11. Elizabeth English says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    You write: “Given my heritage is party Scottish…” Ha-ha! Somehow I don’t see you as exactly “party” Scottish! But maybe I’m wrong…(I know it’s just a typo, for partly).

    I used to connect with a friend working on the Ice (Antarctica) at McMurdo station via short-wave radio and even morse code, back in the late 1980s. I had to go to our town’s disaster office in Boulder, CO late in the evening, meet with an older gentleman there, and have my messages already written up. He would bounce radio waves (?) off various cities on the way down to Antarctica: San Francisco, Honolulu, Tokyo, Tahiti, and most exciting…Pitcairn Island, where he “spoke” to a man named Fletcher Christian, a descendant of the original Bounty mutineers!

    I finally asked my friend if there wasn’t an easier way to send messages, and he said “Some people use email”. I remember asking, “What’s email?” Arghh! Sometimes, I wish I’d never found out!

  12. Paul says:

    This was great fun talking & listening to voices from the other side of the world, my heart was in my mouth when Lady Carnarvon joined us and the two Scottish fishermen talking. Both Robert & I understood their accents, phew lucky Lady C didn’t. To hear another human voice from another part of the world in their home was great & to talk to them with ease just blew your mind.. When they found out it was Downton Abbey calling over the airwaves it went mad, all wanting to talk to the world famous TV home of Downton Abbey.
    I shall look forward to another evening with GB2HCC & some lovely yummy Castle cream & jam scones that are just wonderful (not that I had one because some of the office girls are helping me to loose a few pounds in weight & are keeping an eye on me so no cheating). Another great Blog Lady C & my photos look great in it too. Nothing like blowing your own trumpet I say hee hee Paul 🙂 🙂

  13. Althea says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon.
    Thanks again for a very interesting blog and the photos. Your radio wave experience sounds great & I’m sure those sharing a chat on yGB2HCC had as much fun as you, Robert & Paul. Quite a night, and to be treated to a supper of those delicious cream scones was the perfect treat. I hope Paul’s making good progress on his weight loss program too. Missing the UK and can’t believe it’s been almost a month since we arrived back in New Zealand. Thank goodness for technology, both old & new, which allows us to make contact with orhers across the globe! Looking forward to your next blog …..
    Althea – Auckland, New Zealand

  14. Lori says:

    I want to thank you for your pleasant blog. I have always wanted to get a short wave radio and learn how to use it. I think it would be exciting to be able to talk with people all over the globe. What a great room you have yours in with the big windows,so you can view the beautiful land around the castle.
    Please don’t stop blogging, as I always enjoy reading them.

  15. Jeffery Sewell says:

    Dear Lady Carnarvon,

    Another great (or should I say, “Golf, Romeo, Echo, Alpha, Tango”) Blog.

    Terrific photos too. The joy in everyone’s faces is infectious. Also, both your and Paul’s above description of the delight in communicating with ‘strangers’ around the globe captures the excitement of being able to communicate through the wonder of the wireless/radio – or as is continued to be expressed by endless repeats of the Goon Show as ” the extraordinary, talking type wireless.”

    A piece of trivia. Guglielmo Marconi’s mother was Irish, being the granddaughter of John Jameson, who founded the Jameson Distillery – another fine ‘invention’.

    It also may be of interest to fellow bloggers that Marconi had a significant connection to “The Titanic”. (And of course the first episode of Downton Abbey commenced with the ‘breaking news’ of the Titanic tragedy and the repercussions on the Estate’s entail.) in that regard:

    – The radio operators on the Titanic were not employed by The White Star Line but rather they were employees of the Marconi International Marine Communication Company.

    – Marconi was offered free passage on the Titanic but instead took passage on the Lusitania a few days earlier.

    – At the British enquiry into the sinking of the Titanic, the British Post Master General, said words to the following effect:
    “”Those who have been saved, have been saved through one man, Mr. Marconi…and his marvellous invention.”

    The New York Times reporting of the US Senate Enquiry into the tragedy was less kind, stating that:
    “Sixteen hundred lives were lost that might have been saved if the wireless communication had been what it should have been.”

    It is my understanding that the Titanic was one of only four ships in its day to carry two wireless operators, the others being its sister ship the Olympic, the Lusitania, and the Mauretania. Only four ocean liners flying American flags had any radio personnel in 1912.

    In 1909, Marconi had been awarded The Nobel Prize in Physics – jointly with Karl Ferdinand Braun “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy”

    Enjoy your next ‘broadcast’. Best wishes also to you all in raising awareness and funds for Robert’s charity.
    “Over and out”.
    Jeffery Sewell

  16. Greg says:

    Nice coincidence!
    After spending the past hours of this evening on the shortwave trying to listen in on ham operators and SW broadcast, I began catching up on my email where i found notice of your blog and upon reading find you all have been at the same hobby! I hope to see an article of your event in QST!

    Best regards,

    Greg Steiner
    Park City Montana USA

  17. Sylvia says:

    Vielen Dank für alle Nachrichten und Bilder 🙂 Bin immer sehr neugierig…vorallem Berichte und Bilder über die Restaurierung vom Schloss und Türmen. Danke fürs teilen. Liebe Grüsse aus Berlin Germany ❤

  18. Patti W3KO says:

    When will you be on the air again and on what frequency band? I had a lady English ham radio friend with whom I talked weekly for many years. I’d love to try to call your station and make a contact, especially after touring Highclere Castle a couple of years ago. Thanks.

  19. Lady Carnarvon says:

    Danke Sehr!

  20. Robert Coleman G0WYD says:

    Hi To one and all,G0WYD/GB2HCC.

    A mahoosive thank you to Lady C, who as you may have read is my colonel in chief. 🙂

    Thank you and Lord Carnarvon for the support and kindness in allowing myself and Paul and a few others the time and location to do the event, I hope to have the station back on the air early next year after the coming busy season is over.

    We will try and get the same call sign and we hope the radio waves (band conditions) will be in better condition than they where this time around. I also think that the local radio club will also participate in the event putting the castle on the map with CW ( Morse code ) and a few better antennas, I am sure the next one will be bigger and better than before, we may even try an overnighter (got to ask the colonel in chief first)

    Until then, thanks to all who donated funds to the cause and who are following Lady C’s blog its a great way to keep in touch with the real Downton Abbey.


    Robert, G0WYD/GB2HCC

    • Paul says:

      Yes I agree with everything Robert said & Lord & Lady Carnarvon have said this was wonderful to be part of & I too look forward to when GB2HCC is back on air from our world famous office 🙂 hope to talk to you all soon Paul

  21. Maria Augusta Pinheiro says:


  22. Lady Carnarvon says:

    I would agree! It can be a marvellous world..

  23. Linda Olds says:

    I have always found amateur radio fascinating, sort of an inexpensive way to travel, but I haven’t tried it.
    I have had wonderful scones when I was in London, and when I was in Cornwall. The ones in your picture remind me of them…delicious!

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