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 morning cup of tea they will help Diana with the rest of the Castle. It is extraordinary how much dust accumulates every day, it is impossible to tackle when there is so much filming equipment here, so I know Diana will be pleased to finally get into all those small nooks and gaps.
There is a lot to do in preparation for public opening, John Gundill our Castle Manager and Robert begin checking that all the signs, bins, loos, mats and kiosks are all in place (the essential if unglamorous aspects of running Highclere).
Over the last week, the gardeners took various opportunities with the sun out to mow the lawns over the Downton lunch-break so that the noise of the gang-mowers didn’t compete with the actors.
This year we are trying out a small plant shop which is just outside the tearooms, plants and flowers play such an important part of Highclere Castle and gardening is something I am very passionate about, so I wanted to share some of the key plants that are much admired by visitors and often requested.
The gift shop has got some a new till system with new bar codes in place, I tried to use it when some friends from the USA wanted to amuse themselves in the gift shop. Obviously it went wrong to start with, so my husband was not impressed and ended up calling Duncan our computer colleague to come and rescue me. Computer and scanning problems aside, my friends enjoyed the gift shop and stocked up on presents to take back with them, I signed more books for their friends and families and I rather more successfully prepared some tea and hot cross buns for us all!
It was November 2013 when I felt inspired to come to Highclere and the day finally came yesterday. Husband and eight year old twins in tow. You had the twins at ‘Secret Garden’ so we started in the gardens before heading to the house. My daughter was particularly excited about seeing the library. We had a fabulous day! The children loved it as much as we did. I think the main thing we felt that was different about coming to Highclere is it felt informal and relaxed. Thank you for opening up your home.
The castle and grounds looked AMAZING! We visited Sunday for opening day and all went well. The gift shop was running well and the staff was delightful. We even got to see the Earl pop in for a check of things 🙂
Do you have Gift Shop items on the internet?
Is the gift shop online
Thanks for sharing your blog with us.
Where I live we had a tease of Springtime , then it snowed again!
Looking forward to flowers, tea on the terrace and having
a blessed Easter here. Enjoy the beauty of your home, and I’m sure
the Easter happenings you’ve worked so hard to prepare will be fantastic!
Our spring is futher ahead tham yours I think. There are with forthy panicles of white blossom on cherry trees and daffodils scattered beside the lawns. The Easter Egg hunt we have today, Easter Sunday, is for Naomi House, a children’s hsopice, so I do hope lots of children turn up for the treasure hunt. (We have a slight case of “British weather” today!
Thank you for sharing your lovely home. I like so many have watched a fallen in love with The Crawley family and the whole staff , The show is amazing I wish it would never end. However Thomas could be a little nicer.
Happy Easter :)))))
How does one become a “Castle Manager”? I think that’s the best sounding job title I’ve ever heard! 🙂 Best of luck with the Easter opening. Happy Easter to you.
Thank you so much for generously sharing your preparations for Easter. Wish I could be there to drink it all in along with a cup of Easter tea.. May it be a blessed Easter for you and your family and those who enjoy your hard work.
I was there day before your opening filming trucks were still parked up & everyone was buzzing around like busy little bees, had a nice to chat with Robert & others too, on my return later in the day it was all done & ready for your Public Opening, I do like the sound of your new plant shop, I so like coming to this special Castle its full of all things that I love :o)
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I have so enjoyed reading your blog. My husband and I will be in England next month, and we are sad that we are not able to tour your lovely home during our stay. Hopefully, we can do so on our next trip across the big pond.
Dear Lady Carnarvon, I hope you and your family have a wonderful Easter Sunday and enjoy a feast after attending church. I cannot wait to visit the castle when I come to England.
Hope the festivities went well and it wasn’t too
soggy. Children don’t really care if it’s raining or not,
so I’m sure there was lots of fun for a great cause!
I just wanted to let Lady Carnarvon know that I was ned after her or her husband’s grandmother, I think, Lady Penelope Carnarvon. My Mum was a young woman and promised the little girl that whenever she had a daughter she would name her Penelope after the little girl of wh she was very fond. I have always been very proud of this name.
Just finished reading about Lady Almina and ready to begin Lady Catherine. I also entered the drawing for a free trip to visit Highclere Castle this summer. It’s been more than twenty years since I last visited the UK, and my wife has never been, so please wish us good luck. We so love Downton Abbey and can’t wait for the next season. Have they completed filming entirely, or just up to the Easter break?
I’m looking forward to following your blog, now that I’ve found it. Best wishes.