We are delighted to announce that filming has started on a major science fiction cinematic release at Highclere Castle. We are not allowed to give too much away at this stage but have been busy with crew and engineers working out which locations work best with the more unusual script . In fact we are at the moment in meetings with structural engineers as to how to land a spaceship safely on the Castle roof. Our Castle Manager John Gundill has been testing all ladders and light hatches for risk assessments. We are looking forward to sharing more news as the project goes public but it seems incredibly fitting to host this at a time of such incredible achievements in space! It is of course a move away from period dramas but my husband and I will make a special guest appearance as storm troopers back from Edwardian times.
The idea of time travel, which we have all so enjoyed through the fictional worlds of Dr Who or Star Trek can again be explored and where better than through the Real Downton Abbey. Whether looking forward to the future or reflecting on the past, it reminds me how special it is to share history through buildings and to safeguard Highclere for future generations.
We have included the sky and outer space around Highclere in the location deal as well as providing landing areas for spaceships in the Secret Garden, although being secret, it might be hard to identify.
In the meantime we hope you enjoy the Easter holidays.
This is and was, of course, an April Fool’s joke in honour of April Fool’s Day…
April 1st has been set aside as day for pranks since at least the time of Geoffrey Chaucer. At school I remember that we were only supposed to make April fool jokes until midday. Once your nonsensical story was found out, the “April Fool” passed it on to the next person. In the past, newspapers and TV have often published a prank story for all to enjoy. A famous BBC one was when Panorama apparently showed Italian farmers picking spaghetti from trees. Separate from today’s debate on the ethics of fake news, such mad stories can be taken with humour (better for the health!) and act as entertainment.
The problem can be that not everyone finds it as funny as others. I learnt the hard way whilst at university that I had to think through the consequences of any practical joke. It was a balance of not going beyond a line and there was some trial and effort on my part. I once sent a letter to one of my flatmates purportedly from a leading local 5* hotel saying that the university tennis team had recommended him to be the top instructor at the hotel over the holidays. It would be well paid and could he come for an interview in two weeks’ time. Of course my flatmate practiced, talked about it, ironed his clothes while about 12 of us knew my side of the “prank.” On the due day, smartly dressed in a cream linen jacket, he arrived for the interview. Rather a lot of us were hiding behind the potted plants in the hotel foyer. I felt rather nervous – for myself I think. The hotel was slightly bemused as it was a golf hotel and had no tennis courts. Without doubt, the cocktail bar helped and my flatmate took it remarkably well – after a couple of cocktails. A kind man, if not necessarily entirely happy at that point!!!
This year April Fool’s Day coincided with the most important day in the Christian calendar – the day of the resurrection, a day of joy, Paschen, the day of the Passover. There are various different ways of celebrating Easter Sunday from sunrise church services, to matins and holy communion and then in popular fashion to Easter Eggs and the Easter bunny. Easter eggs symbolize the empty tomb – Jesus had left the tomb where he was laid after his death and rose to heaven but I am not sure what the bunny is supposed to stand for. Nevertheless, for our own Easter Egg hunt for the NSPCC, Paul, who enthusiastically multi-tasks at Highclere, dressed up as the Easter Bunny, waistcoat included.
The word Easter is derived from the festival of Eostre, a German and Scandinavian derivation of the word dawn. Eostre was honoured in springtime as she represented fertility and new life. The month of April was actually called Eostremonath in Anglo-Saxon times meaning growing light. It has been a very muddy winter, mostly cold or wet, so the idea of growing light is most appealing.