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Welcome

Welcome to my blog, inviting you behind the scenes of my life and home and sharing anecdotes from my everyday life at Highclere Castle. The world of Highclere still exists with its own community of Chefs, Gardeners and Housekeepers, Luis our Butler and Maggie the Groom as well as all the other people who make the ‘Real Downton Abbey’ a welcoming place for visitors today.


At Home at Highclere Goes Beyond the Castle Doors

We are pleased to announce the completion of Lady Carnarvon’s new book ‘At Home at Highclere’ which is now available for you, our dearest readers, to buy and enjoy. Read more

 

 

Horsing Around

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 [...]
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The Rose Arbour

This week I have been enjoying early mornings down in the rose arbour, I head off from the Castle armed with a fork and gardening gloves. As I make my way past the courtyard four of our lovely Nepalese staff (who usually help in the tearooms) come to my aid and we walk down the hill together.

The arbour was one of my bright ideas about 3 years ago:  I wanted to do something in memory of my mother. So with my 5 sisters we put a plan together and decided to also plant a walnut walk leading to the arbour, [...]
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Public Opening at Highclere Castle

Downton finished filming a big scene last week and cleared out much of their kit of cables, lights and props so that we could prepare the Castle for the Easter public opening. It was still early when Charlie from the Downton props team scrunched in his white van, on the gravel underneath my window.  He came to remove the last of the various small outdoor props so we could replace with bins and signage.

Downstairs I could hear Diana, our Head Housekeeper, busy hovering away, I know that Ana and Chloe will arrive in the next hour and after their [...]
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Percy

 

Last week ended in misery because our beloved old yellow Labrador Percy died. I had bought him 12 years ago from a dear friend who lives across the fields from us. My sister Lucy decided he was the fattest and boldest in the litter so he would be the one for us. Christened Percy by my husband, this little bundle of fluff arrived and could almost fit in our hands.

I wanted our son Edward to grow up with a dog, to love him and be loved, someone to play with, sleep with and run with.  Percy was always there for [...]
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My Arab Mare

My Arab mare was lame (a stone had worked its way into her foot and caused an infection), so, she was confined to her stable for several days to rest it.  I have, nevertheless, taken her out for short walks around the gardens with the dogs. I always lead her with the rope head collar and long rope to which our wonderful local “horse whisperer” Gary Witheford has converted us.

I have learnt so much from watching Gary work with horses and ponies, from breaking them in to ride, or affirming different behaviour patterns in tricky horses.  I quite often explain [...]
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Game, Set and Coffee

Each day I try to take some sort of exercise, and Monday has become a favorite day of the week, because I start off at 9am playing tennis with three girlfriends. Despite the English climate we are usually lucky and continue in a little drizzle of rain, any more than that and we do have to retire for coffee because Sally, who runs the gift shop wears glasses which unfortunately do not have windscreen wipers. If the wind is blowing from the wrong direction and therefore across the court it is a very sporting game.

All the dogs watch us play. [...]
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Mud and Bricks

This morning the courtyard behind the Castle was unusually full of vans and cars as well as intermittent rain. There was a lot of activity with Steve the roofer and his team re-doing tiles and leaky roofs, as well as drippy gutters all while trying to fight the elements. The electricians were busy testing their works using space age style equipment with wires and lights flashing various colours. The plumbers are endlessly trying to solve a problem and following a labyrinth of pipes around the Castle and grounds.

I do my morning rounds to say hello to everyone and see how [...]
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My American Travels Continued….

 My book tour took me through Washington, a talk for St Andrew’s University, a tea for PBS and then to New York, just ahead of the snow each time. I swopped airflights for car journeys and have turned to walking on foot through New York. We have been staying at the Four Seasons with spectacular views over a snow dusted central park and Hudson river in the distance. The Four Seasons also have a hotel in Hampshire near Highclere and we try to accommodate tours for their guests when we can. It has been lovely to reverse it and be [...]
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My travels in America…

My travels in America began in Nashville, giving a talk in their amazing new convention centre to some 2,000 people. With new hotels and the feeling of energy and business, Nashville has other sides apart from the wonderful Honky Tonk street. Southern hospitality proved more than true and a whirlwind trip from old houses, such as Cheekwood to private  homes, much laughter in the evening preceded a too early start to travel towards Williamsburg.

Williamsburg was a revelation. I dined with Thomas Jefferson, rode in a carriage, walked through cold clear streets, through where the dreams and challenges of America began. [...]
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Downton Abbey in the USA

A question I am most often asked is why is Downton Abbey so successful?  If I knew the magic formula I would bottle it and keep it going for Highclere!

Downton is about a family, Highclere / Downton is where they both live and work. It is romantic, nostalgic, there are some great lines, engaging characters, and it clearly illustrates there are mean and kind people in all parts of life.  It has happy moments, the potential for love and yet the family has to grieve as well. There is little violence. Perhaps the ups and downs and bonds of a [...]
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