We were all working a late night at the Castle, quickly turning Downton Abbey back to Highclere Castle, and putting furniture, pictures and plants back in place, as the following day we were welcoming a private tour in aid of Burghclere Church.
Sally and I were busy in the gift shop packing up sixty gift bags for the guests (I do love a gift bag they are unexpected fun!). While we were busy chatting away, Bill my very tall grey horse was in the stable just around the corner. He is turning into something of a character, and rather enjoys being playful and mischievous. He had somehow managed to nose the bolt along on his stable door and pottered off to join in the party in the gift shop. He seems to rather like company.
Sally was remarkably unfazed and thought perhaps she had not given Bill enough treats that morning. Bill was too big to turn around so Sally had to try and persuade him to reverse out, but Bill was nudging her and too interested in looking at all the gift shop items. I am afraid I was too busy laughing and taking photos on my phone to help. Eventually we lured Bill out and returned him to the stable. I made a mental note to add a second bolt to the bottom of the stable door. We finished filling the gift bags, thinking that you really couldn’t make it this up!
The following day we left Bill and the other horses in their fields rather than risk surprising our visitors. The tour, however, was a great success and we met some lovely people. Two of the guests that morning had been married at Highclere two years ago and had come back to remember their special day. Another couple who had travelled from the USA actually got engaged here at Highclere that morning. The lovely vicar, from Burghclere, Rev David Bartholomew was on hand to wish them well, and Luis, our Banqueting Manager arrived promptly silver tray in hand and two crystal flutes of champagne for the happy couple.
We even met a lovely gentleman called Bill, which sent Sally into a fit of giggles.
This is great loved it hearing what Bill has been up too, its one of these things that would make a funny story for children’s book 🙂
Perhaps he was looking for elevenses and some of that lovely Lady Carnarvon breakfast tea!
This adds a whole new twist on ” Bull in a china shop “. 😉
Not quite sure he knows his own size, and he seemed interested in the mirror. Sally just took it in her stride…
Absolutely hilarious photos. We have horses and had some odd “breakouts” ourselves. Loved seeing and reading about this.
I agree with Paul that Bill and his adventures would be a funny story for a children’s book! Maybe he could be a talking horse, to share his thoughts with his readers.
Hee-hee, a picture is worth a thousand words! I’m sure it would go viral if you put it on Buzz Feed.
Brilliant Bill and lovely times at home.
Loved this story! Thank you for sharing! We remember from our visit to the castle last May just how cozy the gift shop is and how funny to see your Bill there! Maybe he thinks he’s one of your dogs and clearly underestimates his size! But how smart he is to get that bolt open and find you!
Perhaps he wanted to choose his teacup for tea!
We have had horses in our family all my life and this does not surprise me! They are very intelligent and love to get into things. However I have never seen one in a gift shop before! Beautiful horse, and he didn’t break anything 😀 Thanks for sharing with us!!
He headed straight for the biscuits – I think they are delicious too but amazing how he could identify them!
Bully for Bill! He knows he is a member of the family. Fun pictures. 🙂
That made my day. I wish I was there.
Oh, I just love this story and the gorgeous photos you took on your phone!
Bill is a darling and no doubt a very well bred gentleman, isn’t it funny how some animals are quite nosey and have to know what’s happening on their patch. Cows are no different – they have wonderful personalities and hate missing out!
just discovered your blog, luv it! i will be visiting the castle this summer, perhaps i can meet Bill, he is a beauty.
I was in the gift shop yesterday afternoon, Sunday and saw you, Lady Carnarvon in there. It is a lovely shop with some wonderful gifts to buy. I have published some photographs on my blog, my husband thinks it is the best Stately home we have visited and I agree. We were with my sister who is over from Australia, we are HHA members so hubby and I got in free. It is a shame that we didn’t see any horses, just the sheep in the field.
You did write wonderful books which I have lent to my sister to red before she goes back to Oz. As a few of the comments say a book about Bill would be superb. My cousin is a Master saddler and he has a horse called Mr Tibbs and writes a blog about him which is fun.
Best wishes, Jackie Manning
What a cute story! The poor horsey was probably so confused!! I’m just curious: is the background of this blog the same print as the wallpaper in the drawing room?
Your funny story and pictures of Bill touched a fond memory of my childhood pal, Rebel, my horse,
who sadly has long since passed away at the ripe old age of 36! My Mum came home one day to find Rebel standing in our lounge room! He had been lured their by the smell of my peanut butter sandwiches, which he was particularly fond of. He opened the gate of his paddock, and simply walked up the stairs of our front porch and came inside!
I had an awful lot of explaining to do with my Mum that day!! Horses are cheeky the world over aren’t they?
Even in Australia.
Too funny! Thank you for sharing the pictures!
Thank you for this blof Lady Fiona, I just found it and will enjoy going back in earlier posted comments…will readvoften.
Your funny story of Bill reminds me of another horse in a gift shop. The Biltmore Estate in America is open to public tours of the house and gardens with gift shops and restaurants, and also hosts several equestrian events throughout the year. My friend was riding her bay gelding Sky in an endurance ride there when she lost her seat as Sky spooked and ran off down the trail without her. Eventually he turned up at the gift shop, ran in, looked right, looked left, and then turned around and ran back out! Fortunately, being a small agile arabian, he was able to accomplish that without turning over a display case. He was eventually rescued from his adventure and everyone who had encountered him was excited by their meeting of this beautiful creature, as people are when they see a horse. I think it was thoughtful of Bill to show you how he could escape before you had visitors!
Gosh I just found this blog and was delighted to read about your brave horse Bill! A horse that is not spooked in such an environment and shows unfazed curiosity in those surroundings is a horse that has been very well brought up! Kudos! I am an equestrian photographer in Ontario, Canada and I have seen my share of flighty horses! Bill you’re the best!
My husband and I visited for the first time today and we did have the best time. We visited the gift shop and I immediately recognised Sally from your pictures. I reminded her of the story and she had a little giggle – such a charming and friendly lady. Having read your blogs before I came I could put it all into place and my husband was impressed. Stand out moments for me were seeing Almina’s portrait which was one of the most stunning images I have ever seen and I look forward to getting the books when they go into paperback (will they??) also we were impressed with the grounds and the beautiful shrubs in bloom. Thank you for allowing us into your home.