I have a new job….
Reading the Pipe Rolls (a collection of financial records) from about 1270 for Highclere, it is clear that some things do not change. Walls were being mended, mangers for horses and stables repaired, stone and chalk pulled by bullock cart to shore up some building, trees were hewn and there were always missing tiles from the roof.
Highclere was quite an economic centre during the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. A village lay just ½ mile to the north of the Castle, there were rabbit warrens, a deer park and horses grazed the park.
We still have horses grazing the Park, some pet rabbits as well as all the wild ones, numerous tiles to mend and walls to be repaired. I also hope that we are something of an economic centre for the surrounding area and people.
In terms of endlessly rebuilding walls I thought I might also join in. This particular wall was overgrown with ivy which had degraded all the lime mortar. The top foot of the wall was utterly wibbly wobbly (technical expression). In between filming and events, Sid, Bob and Trevor took down and rebuilt part of it using all the old bricks and rebuilding the arch above the black gate which leads to the gift shop. I only proffered advice with the taking down part. The ladders, however, were within easy reach for the rebuilding part and I could not resist becoming a temporary brickie.
Trevor is the best brickie on the team so he was the boss. I was just the apprentice. He firstly demonstrated how to lay a brick. He loaded the brick with mortar from the trowel from around the sides, which took some practice on my part. Having placed the brick I had to concentrate tapping the brick in, something which seemed so instinctive as he did it. Sid was working the other side along the top, so I had some catching up to do. It was good positive way to start Monday morning.
I have plenty more wall to practice on and Trevor said I listened more than Sid. He said he would take me on. Excellent news!!
I bet you are the First Lady Carvnavon to lay brick on the estate. I hope this is recorded in the castle records.
I have only recently discovered your blog and wanted to thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and experiences. Even with the daily grind of running such a massive enterprise you still manage to highlight what this American perceives as the “fairy tale” aspect of the old world Highclere. Fascinating stuff.
And I am so looking forward to hearing you speak this Friday afternoon at the Highclere High Tea in Houston, Texas as my lovely husband presented me with a surprise ticket!
Lucky you! I would have loved it, but am going to take care of a friend who just had surgery. My husband and I are leading a tour to see Highclere in May, so I will enjoy trying to find where this brick wall is!
I hope Friday’s tea is wonderful. What a lovely gift from your husband.
Great job of being a wall builder. I love the history of a place, day to day life
and times, just as you do.
Your blog is a record as well, recording the day to day on a
beautiful historic estate, all
kept in good order for future generations!
I will be going to England in September and of course I will be visiting Highclere.I can’t wait to see your beautiful home !!!!! Good job on the wall .You are a lady of many talents…
Glad to know you are visiting – then you will recognise the wall!
That’s wonderful! Keep the stories coming as they are so inspiring and educational!
Always so much interesting info on your blog. I really love how you take an active part in Highclere on all levels, but the brick laying takes the cake! How fascinating and wonderful to hear about it and see it in photos! I do so hope to get there one day! Kudos to you and all who love and care for this beautiful place. Thank you for sharing.
A Lady Brickie, I have always found brick work to be fascinating and works of beauty. I love that you get you hands into the many projects at Highclere. Regards,Jacquie
That is so amazing! Just think how long those walls will stand now!
Among the most interesting things in your blog are your references to Highclere’s early days. What a wonderful history lesson to learn about the economic impact of the castle on it’s surrounding community! I find it’s also something of a comfort to know the similarities of 13th century people and 21st century folks. Food to purchase and prepare, clothing to be sewn, walls to be mended, animals to be tended, gardens to plant.
Children are born, grow up, fall in love, marry, have children of their own, then they grow old and ‘go on before’, as it is ever thus, the world over.
Congratulations for your energy and determination. You really deserve to have this property. You shows what can be a lady in nowadays! Perfect!
Dear Lady Carnarvon ,
What a great way of being involved with activities that are needed ! Must feel nice for you to practise something you would not expect to do at all ! Welldone you ! Another brickie born ?
Enjoy your new skills !
I have a lot to learn to improve my brick laying skills, but I am going to join in when I can ..
We will be visiting in August. As much as i am impressed with the repair of the wall, I am intrigued by the archives. How extensive are the archives still remaining at the house? Do you have records related to estate management in the 17th and 18th centuries?
Maryland State Archivist Emeritus
PS do you have an Archivist on staff?
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
For the remainder of your life you will never look at that wall as just another wall. It is an accomplishment you had a “hand in.” And I’m sure it, also, raised your status with Trevor, Sid & Bob.
I can’t wait to hear what’s around the next corner…!
How much fun you must have had learning a new skill! You have inspired me. Here in Florida, we don’t really have castles or much brickwork but we do have wind cages around our pools. These are covered in screen and replacing this screen is a Florida art. It involves a little wheel and a tiny rubber tube that you use to push the screen down into the gutter on the metal frame.
You have inspired me to repair mine myself!
Many thanks for being my spring inspiration!
Well the more things change the more they stay the same. I don’t think you’ll ever find any photos of Lady Almina as a “brickie”. Brick laying is a real art. How about a nice English bond? I really admire Hampton Court Palace and the men who laid all those bricks! The fact that it still stands is a testament to their skill.
Happy Spring Lady Carnarvan!
Always a pleasure hearing from you
I always admire the skills of talented tradespeople, ‘brickies’ among them (along with drywall mudders/plasterers). There is artistry in the way talented bricklayers efficiently butter and lay each precise row and build out any arches or other features. I envy you your apprenticeship, although newbies are usually the ones hauling the bricks up to the work site, instead of laying the bricks! 🙂
It’s fascinating to read all the details that go into maintaining the estate, present and past! Thanks for such interesting peeks into Highclere!
Your blogs are always a pleasure to read. I admire your gumption; a Lady who doesn’t mind laying brick or cutting down mistletoe while standing on the bonnet of your car. Here, in the sunny south, you would be a Steel Magnolia. Keep the wonderful stories coming!
Dear Lady Carnarvon, Thank You for your recent Blog. I’m impressed at the way you seem to jump right in there and help in keeping up with the repairs at the estate. How far back does the Pipe Scrolls
go concerning the Estate? I enjoy reading your blogs, there’s always something of interest.
There are earlier records (from 749AD) but incomplete. We are lucky as we are near Winchester and that was the capital of England during the time of King Alfred the Great. (He died in 899AD.) I like the idea he was called “great” because of his promotion of education, of language, of contract law, of writing. some of his records remain. These writings were later not longer valued by William the Conqueror who imposed a brutal rule from 1066 and all his own supporters in place of the earlier Anglo Saxon nobility.
I love reading your blogs and thank you for giving us a glimpse into your life.
I was wondering if Trevor and Sid are employed by Highclere or are they contractors brought in from somewhere nearby?
What a hoot Lady Carnarvon
I had a good giggle at your antics
At least you can say” I had a hand in this place”, even if it were just a few bricks, its the intent that counts in my opinion, and in yours too I’m sure.
There’s nothing like being involved in the making of a place, its more yours so to speak and its yours to be proud of.
We are in a similar position(not a castle though) but making our place out of poured earth, as a female it gives you more clout Ive since discovered, and a sence of power you diddnt know you had.
Men like it when you pitch in and a bit of camaraderie goes a long way …you even learn a few things in the way…
Happy days, enjoy
We will visit Highclere in July and I will check how your brick work went on …
Thanks for sharing so much of your life and work at Highclere Castle!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I admire you. I would never be able to do this. Laying bricks perhaps, but not climbing on a ladder. I am already dizzy standing on a small stool!!! Thank you so much for your blog.
I hoped to come and visit Highclere in July or August but my health is not as it should be and I will have to cancel… Maybe next year…
Thank you again. As I will soon be in France I already extend my best wishes for Easter to you and your family.
Greetings from the USA………….I hope on one of your next blog postings you will share your experience having been the featured speaker for High Tea at the St Regis in Houston, Tx. last Friday March 20th. I understand the event was a smashing success with a sell out attendance. I’m sure the Media Foundation is terribly excited about the success your brought.
Please share some of your visit with us. I’m sure your readers will be most interested in your trip and the event.
Ahhhh, the Chelsea is fast approaching !
Connie Howard Propes
Gainesville, Georgia USA
Dear lady Carnarvon , good show laying the bricks. I hope that you left a few secret markings as a time capsule, for future in habitants and brick layers to find. New secrets of High Clere castle. Desiree Creary.
Hi, Cool post. I am keen to see more of your blog. Build on! Thanks.