This month at Highclere Castle we’ve had a very different project: we have been hiring rollers, sweepers and different lawn mowers to create a one off football pitch for the Heroes at Highclere event.
My husband played football, so he has various views of how to create a football pitch, as do all the men who have happily turned to this project. Simon and James from the farm along with Paul, Robin and Don from the gardens, have been cutting and trimming, Sid and Bob have been in charge of diggers and rollers and Sid gave me my training today as we all need to ‘pitch in’.
Why are we doing this? Well because on Sunday August 3rd we are holding a very special football match between German and British players, here in the grounds of Highclere Castle or as many of you have come to know it “Downton Abbey”.
A year ago we had thought we would commemorate the First World War through music and football, two themes to transcend a shared past , a devastating war that should not have happened.
The story of the Christmas truce of 1914 is a glimmer of something positive in those long four years of war. British soldiers were amazed to see many Christmas trees with candles and paper lanterns, on top of German trenches. A German soldier called out “Merry Christmas English, we’re not shooting tonight” The shooting stopped and the both sides began singing Carols. Cautiously German and English men climbed out and together, stepped into no-man’s land. An Englishman threw a football across, they kicked it back and one of the most famous football matches took place. Goals were set up and it was perhaps 70 or 80 a side.
I had envisaged an informal match, and was wondering how to embark on this project. Fortunately a German company Bayer offered to help recreate the match for us and support the event. I am indebted to their generosity and the huge amount of effort and time they have put into making this idea a reality. We have two amazing teams, a celebrity all-stars British team against an (undoubtedly euphoric) German team, which Bayer are flying over.
Just as we are uniting with Bayer we invite you to join with us in this unique day out for all the family. Come and fill the grandstands and cheer for both teams, who today are not playing above the trenches but here in the grounds at Highclere Castle – united.