Julian Fellowes set the first episode of Downton just over 100 years ago. The early 20th Century began to lay the technological foundations for all the modes of travel, the shopping, the civil rights and above all the gadgets on which we rely on (without thinking) today.
Horses for riding or carriages were being replaced with the horsepower of early cars. Women’s clothes became less restrictive and in the 1920’s somewhat shorter than fashion had permitted in any preceding years. Aviation was beginning. In fact, the first flight in England was made by Geoffrey de Havilland from Highclere in September 1910. Planes would of course be increasingly important during the First World War as the Royal Flying Corp was re-organised in to Royal Air Force. Planes have subsequently been part of all our lives, for better times and also for tragic times.
Following on from Highclere’s association with early flying, we have a wonderful collection pf planes here on Sunday, Tiger Moths, vintage planes mocking up a dog fight in the sky, from the Second World War, a Mustang, a Spitfire and so forth ending with a B17.
Not just the planes are rather the special, but so are the marvellous men in these flying machines, who have planned, prepared and given their time to entertain us all on Sunday. So thank you to Steve, Jeff, Tim, Peter, Jonathan and others, all of whom have thousand 100,000’s of miles as commercial pilots or in the RAF. Some of these men whom have flown Concorde or hold records but all of whom look back with us to the courage of early aviators.
During the latter years of the First World War, many of the men sent here to Lady Carnarvon’s hospital were from the Royal Flying Corps with broken legs – orthopaedic injures. With the benefit of her nursing and the Thomas splint, many men recovered.