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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

 

 

Christmas

We alternate Christmas and New Year in the Castle, so this Christmas we are in Cornwall leaving Highclere for a few days safely in the hands of the home team. They may well patrol the corridors and galleries rather like the footman, Barrow, in Downton Abbey.  Around the Castle grounds they have found a number of tree limbs down and ducks swimming in ponds in the middle of the fields in the Park. Some shutters have forced open the windows due to the strength of the December winds, but we have been lucky, unlike so many people living in some parts of [...]
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Syrian Reflections

The cedars of Lebanon look magnificent and statuesque in winter: evergreen branches stretching against the stark brown trunks and branches, dusted with frost or snow. They are fascinating to photograph. They do not grow as tall in their original land of Lebanon where there is less water. There are also pockets of the cedars in Syria. It is easy to forget the higher cold plateaus of land in Syria, the snows cloaking the land and trees as they are doing now.

The catastrophe in Syria can be masked by the big political debates, but it is essentially a crisis for its [...]
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Last week the Castle Christmas tree arrived much to everyone’s excitement as we decide this year we would bravely increase the size from 14ft to 20ft, when it arrived on our bright red tractor (looking very much like Santa’s sleigh) I thought I may have made a mistake, this was confirmed by the look on Diana, our housekeeper’s face – she clearly thought I was mad and it was far too big!

With the promise of fresh mince pies, lots of volunteers (over 15) came to help get the tree in (easy bit) and then up (tricky bit). I began to [...]
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Lest we forget….

Today’s minutes of silence and reflection are not merely for the Great War but for those who have suffered since then and who suffer today : soldiers and civilians; the doctors, nurses, charity volunteers and journalists who try to save lives and to broadcast the news to make us all aware of what is happening, thereby perhaps entreating all sides to sit down and talk.

Looking forwards eight months to next August, Highclere is going to be again transformed into a hospital. Almina Carnarvon one of my predecessors, rolled up her sleeves, designated herself head matron here and set about nursing [...]
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Stormy Nights….

Sleeping in the Castle during the night of the storm, I felt both very snug and cosy, the shutters firmly closed and lots of blankets on the bed. Highclere Castle sits on a high chalk plateau so the wind really does howl around the walls and turrets, sometimes blowing down the chimneys into the Saloon. We slept fitfully, hoping we wouldn’t lose telephone lines and electricity, but found to our relief that they were both working when my husband went down to make a pot of tea very early at 5am. By morning the worst of the storm had passed [...]
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Puppy Party

Bella our beautiful yellow Labrador had a litter of ten puppies back in September 2012 and we have just celebrated their first birthday. After a really busy week and in a bit of light hearted fun, some of our friends and neighbours who each adopted a puppy, gathered together on the south lawns outside the Castle. One of the puppies now lives with a wonderful friend Karine Hagen whose family created and own ‘Viking River Cruises’ and are also the sponsors for Downton Abbey in America. Karine’s puppy, Finse, named for a beautiful place in her homeland Norway, has also got [...]
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LangaLanga

Last week on a beautiful autumn evening we welcomed 200 guests to a cocktail reception in aid of a Kenyan Education Charity, which we support, called LangaLanga. www.langalanga.org.uk

It was started by an amazing English man who helped rebuild 14 primary schools and pay for secondary education of outstanding children each year and support them all the way through to university. It was very uplifting to hear that there were now Doctors, Engineers, Teachers and Nurses who could return to educate and look after their community, adding tremendous value to it, as well as an extraordinary sense of achievement for themselves.

Our [...]
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Setting The Table

I was astonished at the response to the article on setting the table in The Sunday Times. I had actually written a small paragraph on how we do it here at Highclere in which all the staff here take tremendous pride and thoroughly enjoy teaching the younger generation coming in.

This is what I actually wrote:

 SETTING THE TABLE

Highclere’s dining room table seats between 4 – 30 people depending on how many leaves are carefully put into the Victorian extension mechanism. Setting the table is an art and allowing enough time is important. The detail and charm of the operation hasn’t [...]
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Time and Eternity

The first Sunday of every September, Christine, the vicar holds a short evening service in the little Cemetery Chapel, which lies in a peaceful corner of the Park. It is not long, yet a very special time to reflect about family and friends who have died. The chapel lies behind the old dairy yard and to the other side, the ground falls away with paths winding around the gravestones, shaded by old tall trees and next  to broad green pastures where sheep graze. Whitewashed walls reach above the dark carved wooden pews which line either side of aisle. My husband, [...]
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My Faithful Bicycle

Each day I try to take some exercise and today I set off on my faithful bicycle down the hill away from the Castle with 6 of the dogs more or less near me. We go carefully as cars are coming up, arriving for work. We coast past a group of cottages, where James the Farm Manager lives and then past Don in his Gardener’s Cottage, I then whizz past the old farmyard where the dairy herd used to reside and turn the sharp corner by the Gothic Cemetery Chapel, checking behind me that I am still accompanied by the dogs. Half a [...]
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