Each week I sit down with a variety of guests to give an insight into life at Highclere Castle as well as stories from the farm and news and events from the estate. From conversations with my husband about living with a film crew, to Les Taylor, Highclere Castle’s 93 year old Head of Security, or discussing friendship, gardens and Egyptology with Anne Diamond, the Podcast shares anecdotes and stories from the ‘real’ Downton Abbey.
The latest Podcast:
Episode 15: Heroes at Highclere
In 2018 Lord and Lady Carnarvon staged an ambitious two-day event called ‘Heroes at Highclere’ to mark the 100 year anniversary of the First World War coming to an end. It was a weekend to say thank you, to remember those who served and those who saved in conflicts across the world both in the past and present. One of the charities that the weekend raised money for was the British Armed Forces charity SSAFA. In this week’s podcast Lady Carnarvon speaks to Sir Andrew Gregory KBE CB the Controller of the charity.
Episode 1: Lockdown at Highclere
Lady Carnarvon’s first Podcast features her husband Geordie, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon and they talk about life during lockdown as well as giving an insight into some of the wonderful historical anecdotes of life at Highclere Castle.
Episode 2: The Secret Garden
In this second edition of Lady Carnarvon’s Podcast, she takes a walk, along with her dogs Stella and Freya, to the Secret Garden for a chat with Head Gardener, Paul Barker.
Episode 3: The Highclere Beat
On a beautiful day at Highclere Castle, Lady Carnarvon found a shady spot to sit down with 93-year-old Les Taylor. Les is one of Highclere’s longest serving members of staff having worked for 3 Earls. There’s not much this former Policeman doesn’t know about the comings and goings at the real life Downton Abbey
Episode 4: Painting the Past
Pat Withers has been Highclere Castle’s painter and decorator for an incredible sixty years. For twenty of those she’s been working alongside Lady Carnarvon on a variety of projects to bring previously forgotten parts of the castle back to life through colour and creativity.
Episode 5: Veterans of the Sky
In this week’s Podcast, Lady Carnarvon explores the connections Highclere has with aircraft. From hosting early aviation pioneers to the tragic wartime losses in the hills to the South of the Castle. Her guest is former Concorde pilot, historian, and a good friend Steve Bohill-Smith.
Episode 6: The Highclere Castle Shoot
The partridge and pheasant shoot at Highclere Castle goes back to the time of the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and the tradition has carried through different Head Keepers and Earls of Carnarvon until today. Lady Carnarvon’s guest this week is recently retired Head Keeper Eddie Hughes.
Episode 7: Anne Diamond
Friendships are at the heart of Highclere Castle and ‘Downton Abbey’ and in this episode, Lady Carnarvon welcomes a good friend to join her for tea and a chat. Anne Diamond was a pioneering presenter on breakfast television in the UK, and in more recent years a local radio broadcaster. Listen all the way through as Lady Carnarvon shares a ghost story, and reveals a ‘scented’ secret!
Episode 8: Living with a Film Crew
Lady Carnarvon sits down with her husband Lord Carnarvon to reflect on the past year as they prepare to emerge from lockdown. It’s been a period which in recent weeks has seen Highclere Castle lie dormant for one of the longest periods in its history. They also look back on how Downton Abbey has transformed their lives and swap memories of living with film crew. Now as the ‘real’ Downton Abbey prepares to welcome visitors again, Lord and Lady Carnarvon can start to look forward to returning to a more familiar routine.
Episode 9: Mrs Patmore’s Kitchen
If you peer into the kitchens at Highclere Castle I’m afraid you won’t find Mrs Patmore, the cook, or indeed the scene you might be familiar with from Downton Abbey. The Downton kitchen is in fact a studio set in west London, but there’s nothing fake about Paul Brooke-Taylor Highclere’s own head chef. Paul has worked at Highclere for 12 years and along with his team produces food for the hundreds of guests that visit the ‘real’ Downton Abbey during public opening. Having just returned to work after the COVID-19 lockdown he sits down with Lady Carnarvon to talk about his career, his love of food & what it’s like to cook at Highclere Castle.
Episode 10: The Music of Life
Highclere castle is the birth place of a world renowned classical music festival. The Newbury Spring Festival was founded by the current Lady Carnarvon’s late mother-in-law Jeanie in 1979. As well as attracting some of the greatest musicians from around the world the festival gives a chance to the very best young musical stars. In normal years the castle acts as one of the festival’s many local venues. In this week’s podcast Lady Carnarvon welcomes festival director Mark Eynon.
Episode 11: Tea with The Bishop
A regular visitor to Highclere Castle is the Bishop of Basingstoke, The Rt Revd David Williams. David’s Anglican role is within the diocese of Winchester and embraces many diverse and unique communities both urban and rural. As the castle emerges from the coronavirus lockdown, Lady Carnarvon discusses how the church can play its role in providing hope for the future and shares some happy memories of past dinners at the castle – including one with British food writer, chef and TV presenter Mary Berry!
Episode 12: Luis the Butler
Luis Coelho is Highclere Castle’s very own ‘Carson’. He might not be as tall as his Downton Abbey counterpart but what he lacks in stature he more than makes up for with enthusiasm. This year he even has his own bar to show off his mixology skills on public open days. He’s another member of the Highclere ‘family’ that makes the ‘real’ Downton Abbey such a special place to live, visit and work at.
Episode 13: The Red Arrows
Over the years the ‘real’ Downton Abbey has played host to many important visitors, but few have been so spectacular as the nine red-suited gentlemen who visited in 2018. The Royal Air Force Aerobatic display team ‘The Red Arrows’ were the star attraction at the ‘Heroes at Highclere’ event which marked the 100 year anniversary of the end of the First World War. In this week’s podcast Lady Carnarvon welcomes back to Highclere Castle team supervisor Squadron Leader Adam Collins, also known as ‘Red 10’. Last year the team spent 11 weeks in North America where they displayed at around 20 major airshows and took part in several iconic flypasts.
Episode 14: Managing the Castle
For the past 15 years John Gundill has worked side by side with Lord and Lady Carnarvon helping them shape their vision of how they want to operate Highclere Castle as a successful business. John was in the first meeting when a production team came looking for a location for a series called ‘Downton Abbey’. Little did he or Lady Carnarvon know how that would go onto make Highclere Castle one of the most loved and recognisable buildings in the world. But, as we’re about to find out, whether it’s hosting the cast and crew of a TV and film production, or dealing with a burst pipe in the castle, there’s rarely a dull day when you’re the castle manager at the ‘real’ Downton Abbey.