Real Lives and Film Sets
The first of the coaches arrived for this week’s tours and lectures and slowly backed into its parking place. The sign above the driver said “Downton Abbey”. They meant, of course, Highclere Castle but they also did mean Downton Abbey even though that is a fictional persona. The question often is where does fiction end and reality begin or vice versa.
Unlike many purpose built film sets, Highclere is very real. It is a building you can touch and experience and, above all, a much loved home. The elegant and historic Carlton house desk on display in the Library is part of Highclere’s heritage but it is also where Hugh Bonneville, acting as Lord Grantham, sat. In reality, it is quite possible that maybe Disraeli, Lord Salisbury or Sir George Etienne Cartier also sat there to write a letter on one of their visits to Highclere. In the same way, Henry James, another visitor, might have penned a few lines. I myself have written the odd thank you letter sitting at it.
After my father in law died, Geordie and I would often wake up in the middle of the night and I would make mugs of tea whilst we discussed and turned over what Highclere Castle was, or could be, during our “life tenancy”. With five sisters and a history of sprawling family lunches and holidays, my life has always been about people: sharing, eating, walking and sitting down together. For me, it has always been experiences and conversations which draw us together and which create the best memories.
On the back of what is now a number of years of experience, Highclere seeks to offer visitors a variety of different choices and options, both in terms of budget and experience. The joy of a house like Highclere is that it has so much real history to draw on as well as more modern uses like film and television. Of course on public opening days you see the grounds and buildings, but our smaller tours can be more entertaining or educational and we can share and build memories of the scenes of Downton or remember history’s real characters and with D-Day in mind, for example General Patton, who had lunch here.
Taxi and coach drivers often join in and add to the anticipation by playing the Downton Abbey music as they wend their way through the park towards the entrance – a moment of escapism before you see for yourself the balance and aesthetic beauty of the building.
In theatres and on large panoramic screens, the Downton Abbey film premieres in September. By contrast, I thought we could offer a different, more personal experience of Highclere via a series of guided autumn tours so that each visitor and guest feels part of the journey, interweaving the real and fictional stories of the Castle. The bedrooms, for example, played several roles over the series, from the unexpected death of the Young Turk, to that of Sybil or William, and later of babies being born and conversations around the dressing table. Equally, in reality they have housed the famous and well known faces from past and present. Highclere is not just splendid but cosy and comfortable. I hope the reality, the sense of welcome is a complement to the world of social media or screen.
Autumn leads into our Christmas experiences, afternoon tea and workshops again providing real ways of sharing. The concept of participation is also at the heart of my new book about Christmas at Highclere. The beautiful photographs are, on the one hand, almost elemental and grounded in the world of nature and on the other, are full of people and life. Scattered throughout the book are questions from the quiz games we play for fun here after supper. It is again about participation and enjoying this very special world.
In the end though, whatever success the Castle has, is above all due to the engagement and kindness of the team here from John the Castle Manager and Simon on the farm, spiraling along to all the others here who put so much thought and effort into the events here.
Wonderful, as always. I think the cover of your Christmas book should show the inside—decorated for the season. Perhaps a long shot of the Christmas tree…
As stunning as the exterior is, I think it would be more personal to show where the family actually enjoy Christmas. Whatever the cover, I will be adding the book to my collection!
Thank you – the tree is inside but I rather feel that Christmas starts outside with the journey home and we all then move inside. I am for better or worse so often curating the feeling of a journey – all the bumps and up and downs..
I so look forward to your writings every Monday! There is always so much to look forward to enjoying with the stories that you share with us. The cover with snow is magical!
Spero che il libro esca anche in italia!
Ich freue mich sehr auf das neue Buch ❤ Ich liebe Ihre Bücher…wird es auch eine deutsche Ausgabe bei Amazon geben? Liebe Grüsse aus Berlin Germany
Love the cover of snowy landscape and the photo of tou at door. Snowy scene seems that it can be more year round interest since it doesnt scream Christmas, which I think makes it more marketable.
Excited to be in England during the time you have opened your home for us Downton fans to enjoy. Planning a Tuesday outing with my daughter on her graduation from university gift of two weeks in the UK. She may or may not come in a vintage dress for a memorable photo on the grounds.
That would be fun!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I’ve read the comments and if I may, I think that the exterior picture is a perfect Christmas cover, and the one of you by your decorated door is perfect as well. So, for my vote, I honestly don’t think they could be improved on. Cannot wait to get your book!
I hope you enjoy it!
I live in America and most likely will never have the privledge of visiting this beautiful place except through DowntonAbbey and your lovely book…I would love to see a Christmas cover like the setting when Matthew proposes to Mary…Downton warmly lit up..looking from the outside..with snow gently falling…inviting anyone to come in and enjoy the gentleness of the season…Thank you for allowing the world to experience the beauty and history of your home…
Well, since it is Christmas at Highclere, a picture of the front doors decorated would be appropriate.
You are right but the decorated doors are just inside encouraging you to turn the page…
That would be nice, but you could have the dogs waiting to go in.
It would therefore be their back view – maybe coming towards us?
Lady Carnarvon, that’s an excellent point about the dogs’ “back view.” That’s what was always shown in the opening of “Downton Abbey” and I thought it was funny. But then, I have a rather juvenile sense of humor!
St. Louis MO
I was trying to think how to phrase “back view” – I think it is very funny too …
Dear Lady Carnarvon!
I think the picture of you opening the door to the Castle is wonderful! – It has everything;
1. You inviting readers to the Castle
2. The very right colours! Green and red dominating- (I like your coat!)
3. Gorgeous ”X-mas Doors”
4. I would buy the book immidiately if I came across it!
I think it is perfect! Looking forward to seeing it.
The Book cover is perfect. When will it be available for purchase?
Than you for all that you do and share.
I hope we will set up a pre-order page on Amazon – it comes out in September !!!
Hello, I just arrived in England from California and can’t wait to tour your lovely home next Tuesday afternoon.
See you then!
Hello, by chance do you mean Tuesday the 28th?
Our family is arriving next weekend from Arizona and we coincidentally are visiting Highclere on that date! Also I love both covers – why not use the winter wonderland portrait for the cover & the charming picture of Lady Carnarvon for the back cover! Enjoy a safe trip!
Che’rie from Scottsdale AZ
Thank you for the nice memorial to the RAF and US Army Air Force of WW2 on the Highclere grounds. “We few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers” appreciate your kind and thoughtful efforts.
It has been my honour to remember and say thank you. I do need to create an explanation board by the statue – my next job!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I have read several interesting books on the history of Highclere and of
your family. I was a devoted fan of “Downton Abbbey” and look forward to the film release later this year.
I love reading your blog and enjoy the photos of the real life at Highclere. Thank you for your gracious and generous sharing of your beautiful home. I hope one day to visit on our next trip across the pond.
Denver, Colorado USA
Look into a Viking river cruise with a Highclere Castle add on. We enjoyed the Paris to Normandy cruise with a follow on of three days in Oxford, one of which was a private tour of Highclere. Paris to London via Chunnel Train. Coach to Oxford. Very well organized.
They are well organised and Karine (Hagen of Viking) and I were just talking about 2020. My next job this morning is to write an article for their magazine Explore and I am prevaricating!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I’m so excited to see your new book! I have your others, this will be a lovely addition to the collection.
Seeing the cover made me want to have the book…it’s beautiful. One other option would be a picture of you and Geordie with the pups standing at the open front door of the castle on a winters eve., only because Highclere isn’t just about the beautiful castle but also so much of your welcoming heart.
I finally get to bring my husband along to Highclere for the 22 and 23rd June events! I brought my daughter at Christmas a couple years ago to your Champagne and Carols event which was so lovely. We are so looking forward to our visit with you at your lovely home.
I just have to add, I love your red coat. Fabulous photo.
Thank you –
A beautiful building and the external scene cover s strangely warming. Just wonderful. Thank you.xx
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I just love it! Can’t wait to have it on my table. Setting the place for friends and visitors for Christmas is a big part of my life on my daily routine on my christmas tree farm in the Eastern Township in Québec.
Thank you. for sharing your real life experience with us.
Have a great spring season!
Thank you so much!!!
I love the cover of the book. I will definitely buy it when it becomes available!
Love that cover!! I love reading the recipes you post. I can’t wait to get a copy this Christmas. Congratulations on the new movie as well. I love Downton Abbey and am so excited to see it live again.
Very excited to see the new movie. I really look forward to and enjoy your articles about your life and your work. Thank you from Manitoba, Canada.
It is so exciting!!!
I enjoy your blogs so much.I dont know how you keep everything straight but I’m glad you do
I do feel a bit wibbly wobbly sometimes – a lot going on just now
Thank you for your blog. I really enjoy reading it. I like the picture for the cover that you posted. Another similar picture that would be appropriate is a picture from the last scene of the Castle from the series finale of Downton Abbey.
Thank you for sharing, Lady Canarvon! Highclere is such a splendid, beautiful castle and I would love to come visit some day, particularly in Autumn. At first glance, my own, unprofessional opinion about the cover of the new Christmas book is that there is too much of the sky and clouds in the picture. Thus, my eyes are drawn more to the sky and clouds than to the beautiful castle. I’m sure it will be a wonderful book to purchase. Thank you!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Of all the scenes filmed during the six seasons of Downtown Abbey I thought that the most beautiful was when the snow was falling when Matthew proposed to Mary. Therefore, I vote for an exterior shot of Highclere with the snow falling.
I can’t wait to buy your book.
Fondly, Diana Squibb
I agree with you ! Thank you!
What Diana said 🙂
I completely agree! That was my favorite scene from the series and it was so beautiful !
I love the cover of the book with the outside of Highclere with snow falling gently around it .
That screams a beautiful Christmas !
Thank you again for writing another heartfelt story about Highclere Castle. I have been a visitor there three times and can picture every thing you describe about the Castle.
I like the picture of you at the front door, it’s as if you are welcoming us in.
I can’t wait to buy your latest book. When will it be available ?
Thank you – that is for sure the back cover..
I like the photo of Downton Abbey for the cover and the one of Lady Carnarvon for the very first page welcoming the reader to her home. Thank you for this blog. It is a lovely idea.
Do you ever have crystal clear blue skies in December? The cover shown is pretty but if practical maybe a deeper blue. I can’t wait for that book!
We do have clear blue skies..
I love both options but I’m leaning toward the cover on the left because it seems welcoming and warm. Whichever you choose, I will be sure to add it to my well-loved books!
Thank you again for telling another lovely story of Highclere’s two worlds – one that speaks of noble English history, and the other of present day ability to appreciate it. Thousands of people the world over appreciate the experiences Highclere has provided.
I have pre-ordered the Christmas at Highclere book and I look forward to its release in October! Regarding the cover of your Christmas book, I am always drawn to seasonal designs involving greenery and festive clothing. It will be interesting to see what is decided for the cover of your book.
Thank you so much
Lovely cover. Lovely picture of you. What a good feeling it must be to have completed this project! Congratulations! We plan to visit Highclere in the next couple years. Until then, I am looking forward to reading this new book and, of course, strategically leaving it about to peak the interest of curious guests.
I have had the privilege of visiting Highclere Castle and enjoyed you addressing our group in the most gracious manner. Somehow, I always picture grey December skies for Christmas. You have such a beautiful home, it will look wonderful no matter the skies.
White Marsh, Maryland USA
I love the picture of Highclere in the snow for the cover. It is beautiful! Do you happen to know when tours in June 2020 will be?
We will have a few guided tours each and every week for sure
Wonderful! Thank you so much! I can’t wait to add your new Christmas book to my collection.
Dear Lady Carnarvon –
We had the most wonderful time visiting Highclere five years ago and appreciate the fact that you share your home (that is very much loved and occupied!) with eager visitors. Thank you so much for the educational and thrilling experience and we love getting to see what happens throughout the year through your delightful posts! We hope to return again someday!
Wishing you all the best,
how about a picture of the BIG tree on the back of the old truck travelling down the long road and a picture of the huge tree being stood up in the great room.
i look forward to your new book – whats more l’m on pins and pine needles waiting for the movie.
That is inside with lots of photos – it is a fun chapter!
Love your blog so much! Counting the days until we get there in June for the concert and post concert day event! My longtime childhood friend and I will meet in Miami and soar over for our mid-life bucket list experience:) can’t wait. The cover looks beautiful.
Delray Beach, Florida
This book sounds very nice, fun and informative. The cover shows Hiclerc in all her glory. Very nice. I will be sure to look for it’s release.
I want to thank you for all the posts you make the so the Castle is real to everyone. I love history along with Downton Abbey you have helped to create and make it all come alive.
Yes, Downton Abbey has brought the Castle, it’s history and the history you’ll are creating now.
I always look forward to the new books coming out with anticipation for new stories, new recipies and the love you share for your home.
Please keep the posts coming along with everything you create for those of us who don’t have your experience and culture.
Blessings to all,
What a pleasant intro to my week. Your description of the principle of “connection” is dear to my heart. The power of connection and creating community is at the heart of peace and accomplishment for the greater good. Once again I’ve noticed how you share the credit for creating the Highclere /”Downton Abbey” experience with the Castle Manager John and your Farm Manager Simon. I commend you for that.
Your picture is absolutely charming and welcoming as a personal photo. I do love it. As my editor said to me when I was thrilled with a photo shoot, “What is your brand? Does this support your brand?” The Highclere photo definitely supports the brand.
Well, it’s your decision obviously.
Best wishes with this endeavor. Greetings to your pigs, Thelma and Louise and their families. I so enjoyed that story. Have a wonderful week.
Thank you so much!!
I love the proposed cover. Highclere in the snow and your welcoming smile are very inviting. All blessings! Peg
I visited your beautiful home earlier this month … and would love to some day return during the Christmas Season. Whichever cover you choose for your new book … it will be perfect. I look forward to seeing it.
You are so encouraging!
I am so excited to fill a bucket list wish to visit the beautiful “Highclere Castle” this summer!! So much history and intrigue. The photo on left is my cover pick.
I think the sample above is perfect and definitely inviting. The photo immediately tells what to expect inside the covers. I will be ordering mine. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit last year.
You are kind
I love this post. Thank you for sharing so much with us, especially the memory of your mugs of tea and wakeful nights considering your role in this historic, family castle.
What a selfless way of looking at your role, and how it has blessed millions of people. Thank you both.
It is a fitting phrase for all of us on this earth, and may we all consider our work on earth thusly.
God bless you!
So fun to read your blog today after spending an enjoyable Saturday evening at your lovely home! My mother and I couldnt have been more thrilled to take part in the festivities of the cabaret show!
Thank you for opening up your hearts and home to all of us
Cynthia “not Wendy” haa!
That was such a fun evening – we are all still laughing and I might have to ask them back next year!
The cover: Although it’s OK as you have it, I would also reverse it and have your photo on the front and Highclere on the back. It sort of changes the tone and makes it more welcoming. We are ready to go inside for Christmas. Where’s the mulled cider? The warm fire? I would reverse the pictures…
You are right and there is plenty of mulled wine inside .. it is just our fireplace is like someone elses!!!
As to the cover of your book, I think a winter night scene would have more visual impact and provide a better backdrop for the title. As it is now, the title has little presence opposite the image behind it.
That is a good point
Highclere looks very inviting. I like the suggested cover for “Christmas at Highclere”. The rich red balances the icier blue very nicely!
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
BEAUTIFUL HISTORY AND BLOG THE FRONT COVER BOOK ABOUT THE CHRISTMAS IS WONDERFUL.
I look forward to seeing your finished book – I will put it on my Christmas wish list, my children are always fishing for ideas of gifts to get for me!
I like the proposed cover, especially the picture of you on the back; it might just be the way the photo looks on my computer, but one change I suggest would be the color of the title, perhaps a metallic deep red, or at least a darker gold, but I think more contrast against the sky would balance it better.
Thank you as always for sharing your home and your life there with the rest of us. I enjoyed our visit there last year and hope to be able to return one day.
Fort Wright, Kentucky
I think your comment has been reiterated so thank you
Living in Canada, where our season of ice and snow is so prolonged, I love the warmth and welcoming feel of the cover on the left. After all, Christmas is about family, faith, sharing and caring and that is very much communicated by the cover on the left.
I love the cover! I will definitely buy it! I loved visiting Highclere and I so want to come back.
Absolutely lovely!!! I am desperately wanting to visit in June when my daughter and I arrive. I’m hoping I can make this possible. Downton Abbey has been my ‘safe place’ for comforting my weary soul on cold and rainy nights.
What a dream it must be to live there, but also such work and preparation too. Thank you for sharing with us. I hope you have a wonderful day.
I think Charlotte was in touch with you?
No ma’am. I haven’t talked to anyone. ♥️ I would be delighted to though if she were to contact me.
The book is beautiful by the way and can not wait to purchase a copy. I actually plan on painting your lovely home myself and hanging it in my living room.
I thought she had – en route – emailed her now
I received her email. Thank you very much. I appreciate your time and thoughtfulness ♥️
Can’t wait for the new book …..cover is great ….. just need the Christmas at Highclare (my opinion)a bit more gold for the letters they are a bit light and a bit lost ….. maybe match the crown above it …..looks be your energy and approach to preservation and fun…..
Noted – thank you!
We took the Highclere tour last year thru Viking and it was the highlight of our trip. I am a big Downton fan, but one of the joys of doing the tour was that it inspired me to read the books about the real history of Highclere and the people who lived there—and not surprising, the real history is actually even more fascinating than the fictitious one
Thank you and it is pleasure to partner with Viking Cruises.
Definitely, enjoy the blog. Love the cover, a combo of the house and you welcoming us into your home. Also looking forward to the movie. Thank you for letting us enjoy your home.
Trip to your home will be next year…. Can’t wait.
When are you planning to visit?
Dear Lady Carnarvon – All these lovely comments, so well deserved. You have included all of us in your stories to enjoy the history of Highclere and your personal experiences and I find it extraordinary, a real talent. My partner and I were visitors to Highclere after a Viking cruise to France as we had a Viking extra three days in Oxford. I met you in the lower level after a tour with two gracious women who showed us around. Then I was at the Museum of History in Ottawa, where I live, and enjoyed so much seeing you again. I really enjoy your blog and thank you so much for sharing. All the best and also have to add how sorry I was to hear of your mother-in-law’s passing. With love, Diane
Thank you so much. I much enjoyed my visit to Ottawa and the museum of history was eye opening – sharing past lives not words on a page
I’m choosing the cover with the icy-blue skies featuring the castle itself….the Home of real people, then and now. The journey home is universal.
Noted – thank you!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
In the delightful, thoughtful and quintessential Australian film, “The Castle”, the owner of a small, fibro suburban dwelling takes on big business and the government in court, in an attempt to prevent the compulsory acquisition of his property.
The dwelling is located right next to an airport runway and it lacks any refinement. However, as is submitted to the High Court of Australia in the film’s climax “it isn’t just a house, it’s a home.”
“A home is built with more than bricks and mortar – it’s built with memories and love”.
And so too can one see the love and memories that your family and previous generations have so obviously put into Highclere.
It is indeed a Castle, but it’s warmth and attraction comes from it being your home. Undoubtedly, it’s that combination that makes it so universally loved.
I don’t think you can go wrong with choosing either of the two above photos for the cover of your new book. For what it’s worth, if I had to make a choice, I would have the Castle in snow on the front cover and the lovely photo of you at the front door on the back cover.
Best wishes with the publication. I am looking forward to placing an order as soon as the book is available for purchase.
You are kind! Thank you Jeffrey
You’re an inspiration Jeffery. Love “the vibe”.
Kim, Gold Coast.
Lady Carnarvon, we will be visiting in mid October 2019 and I see that you mentioned guided autumn tours . Will there be tours in mid October? I so hope there are! I didn’t see anything noted in ticket sales for this time.
They are on the web site now!
I love it! Highclere Castle on the Front Cover, and, First Page, you, opening the door, and welcoming the reader! Then, the layout of photos, food, recipes. I am looking forward to it. Best wishes for all of your endeavors. You are such a wonderful role model for bringing back grace and civility into these modern times to our ordinary lives.
Mary Beth Faimon
St. Paul, Minnesota USA
Thanks as always for your charming blog. You make us feel like honored guests in your home. I was part of an Iowa group that had a private tour in May of 2016, and really hope to come back someday, maybe for a longer stay in one of your cottages, and hopefully without rain. That and attending the Royal Windsor Horse Show, which I got to do for an afternoon on the same trip, are on my to do list for the future. One can dream. I am looking forward to the movie.
Since you brought up your new book, I have a request. Please think about a book featuring all the wonderful paintings at Highclere. I would love to know the people portrayed and their history. Maybe it could be a series of books so more people could purchase them.
It is on my list as are the gardens and trees – I love the sense of eternity and reassurance from looking up at a Cedar tree. They are almost the most amazing in the winter.
I think the cover is lovely! It is slightly whimsical and the title in the soft yellow is nice against the sky. It allows the font to be large but not over power the picture of the castle. The red binding is perfect as it ties the front cover and the festive picture of you welcoming us to Highclere for Christmas. Looking forward to getting my copy, along with a few extras for friends and family!!
I hope it is the perfect Christmas present!
Whatever you and your ‘Team’ choose for the covers, I’m more than certain they will be Stunning!
We just returned from a 75th Anniversary D Day Tour, encompassing Museums and Beaches/ History and so much more. It was SO beautiful while we were there, and everyone was so nice.
I thoroughly appreciate everything you do and thank you for your wonderful work. Looking forward to the new book.
Sincerest Regards, Jane Hrabak
I love the iconic image of Highclere and the word ‘Christmas’ above it. We immediately know what we are purchasing. There is connection between the picture and the word, and it sends an immediate message to our senses. It’s all there already, expressed for us, reminding us of the human side to the bricks and mortar. Sends a clear message, in my view. Nothing more needs to be said.
You are kind – I always worry about it all which does not really help!!!
I was very blessed several years ago to visit Highclere with my sister and English relatives. We thought we were going to only see the outside gardens and walk the grounds but upon arrival discovered there were tickets to go inside, too. You cannot imagine my excitement. To have lunch outside makes me giddy with the memories. My sister had not watched the series but both her and her husband have done so now having visited your beautiful home.
I am from Minnesota and loved the cover photo of the snow on the grounds. (Having said that we are ready for the snow to leave now as it once again forced me to put plants in the garage). I think first snow is very beautiful and that is what I thought of as I looked at options posted on your blog. Whatever choice is made I plan on getting a copy when I come back to England in October to visit my English family.
Thank you – snow is always most fun at first – it comes out in the USA/Canada as well as UK
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thanks always for your lovely blog (although I prefer to think of it as a love letter to family, staff and readers)!
I echo the comment about your brand and vote for the castle in winter and more readable title for the front cover. Your picture on the inside and the back cover would be delightful as there is no such thing as too much of a good thing. I’m thinking ahead to an autographed copy of your picture inside!
Adding my thanks and well wishes to Geordie and your staff and hoping to visit again someday!
All well here and you are right, I am not sure about the word “blog” but I am sure of my pleasure when you all comment – it is a shared love for all that a home and heritage mean
I am a portrait artist, but at heart, I love to paint pretty and decorative front doors. They are, after all, the opening to the sanctuary of our lives. Having said that, your choice for the cover of your new book is lovely. The coloring is perfect, and the action captures the moment of you stepping out of the door as if to say, “Welcome to my joy!”
Recipes! Yum! I am excited as I love to cook.
Lady Carnarvon, I look forward to this blog even more so than I did the series, mainly because I feel your truth.
For those of us who do not travel past the lands of our front doors, thank you for another moment of fantasy into your reality.
Thank you – there are about 70 recipes I think ..so many memories in cooking and sharing food at Christmas
Use the photo of you at the front door. Lovely!
I think I am back cover – but thank you for your vote!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon, When I was a child,one of my favorite books ,read by my mother during Christmas time had Santa Claus Palace on the cover,with a royal blue sky and white clouds…When I saw your snowy Highclere picture,I felt like facing my dear lost book again!It is,for all those grown-ups who still like the Christmas magic,the perfect place to meet Santa and all his staff working on special recipes and tasks for holidays times!Your picture at the front door could be also introducing us to the magic of Highclere Christmas celebrations!It is perfect too!
I love the cover with the ice blue sky plus a little snow…I immediately pre ordered my copy. Thank you for inviting us into your world every Monday, a beautiful way to begin our week.
I visited your home 5 years ago and love reliving it each Monday!
Thank you – I have loved this book, I hope it will give much pleasure
Highclere is a castle, it is a country estate, an historical sight, and it is Downton Abbey, but it is also your home for family and friends to come by for a visit, sit around the table in the dining room, have tea in the library or the coach house, or picnic under one of the lovely Lebanon Cedars. You and Geordie have made it a warm and inviting place, for large events and fine personal experiences, too. It did not become a cold, drafty museum, or a obnoxious venue for road shows, or an amusement park …it is a warm and friendly home that we love to visit, n reality or through your writings. So the Christmas book looks wonderful! Can’t wait to have it to spend the holidays with you “in spirit”! As an artist, I must agree with Mr. Watkins: “title presence”…make a dark sky to set off the title which is “lost in the clouds” at the moment. ‘Love the photo of you as you greet us at the door, perfect!
Thank you – it is a decision light sky or star studded evening sky … oh my dear I feel even more worried !!!
I love the picture of you at the front door, with a peak of the door knocker. When we visited Highclere a few years ago, as soon as I saw the door and especially the knocker, I knew I had finally crossed off another bucket list item!
You are kind
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The front cover of your new book, for me, represents hope. The clouds and dark skies have passed and it is a brand new morning. I hope each of us will seize the day and live it to the max as you do, dear lady.
Recently, after watching Mary Berry’s visit with you at Highclere, I wanted to learn more about this lovely home and the family who lives there. Your blog is a joy to read and the photos are like icing on the cake. Exploring your website, ladycarnarvon.com, has been a wonderful adventure. My favorite discovery are the books you have written. Just yesterday I purchased the story of Lady Almina’s life. I look forward to reading all of your books. The blog videos have been such fun to watch. Just to let you know, we are now old friends. You live in a glorious place with an abundant history. Thank you for sharing a bit of it with us each week.
W. Memphis, Arkansas
Thank you Mary – let me know what your thoughts are of Almina..
I can’t wait for the book to be published so I can purchase a copy ? Do you have a carriage that you could decorate for Christmas and perhaps you could be greeting the carriage welcoming guests for the holidays ?
I am busy acquiring herds of Willow reindeer!!! I hope it is out on Amazon as a preorder – I will try and check
Hi Beth, I was thinking the same thing. Not only would the scale be appreciated but signs of life outside. Great minds . . . LOL
I love your blog this week! I have watched Downton Abbey so many times I’m afraid my dvds are going to wear out! I need to go back to Highclear again since
So many improvements have been made. I really appreciate your diligence and determinations!
We all work hard – and share the work with humour
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
We always love to read your blog. The photographs in your blog and “At home at Highclere” book are amazing and beautifully taken. It must be hard to choose the photos for your new book. Not being serious but didn’t you mention in one post that you had reindeer of the wooden kind? So my suggestion, serious or not, would be snowy scene, with you and the reindeer with your beautiful house behind!!! Ok, maybe not! The cover looks already very tasteful and perhaps keep the sky as it is. You have crystal clear blue skies on “at home” front cover already! The beautiful Cyprus trees, don’t forget them…
Best wishes from Switzerland.
It is interesting how to to select the right “blue” some of our skies are clear and strong ..
Love♥️♥️ the cover with Lady C next to the wreathed front doors. I am so excited about the new Christmas book.
Thank you for continuing to make my Monday morning special with your words about life at Highclere —
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Beth and I seem to have the same train of thought. A herd of willow deer would be great too. Congratulations on the new book!
My best, Susan
I have had to redo some old garages to store them safely!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I really like the richness of the front page. It’s Highclere at it’s best. How about a horse-drawn cart carrying the huge Christmas tree? And having a picture of the dogs on the back cover with red and green collars with jingle bells. The reader would immediately know the pages were filled with Holiday treasures.
I can’t wait until September. I will definitely put your new book on my Christmas list.
Wonderful – thank you and i hope there are some treasures inside ..
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I am late to the Blog Party today…lots going on here. But I could not miss my appointment with your blog!
I echo the opinions about the snowy Castle photo…it screams Christmas! I am a Christmas aficionado! I love it! My dream is to visit Highclere at Christmas some time. I can just picture having afternoon tea at the Castle….dreamy!
I look forward to a photo of the Willow Reindeer wrapped with lights.
Thank you for all you do. You have the ability to paint a picture with your words…and you make me feel as if I am your best friend!! Thank you.
I thought I would offer some Christmas teas – we are beginning to figure out how to share the book and ideas now –
So hard to pick a cover – but I think you nailed it – I like the suggestion of making the lettering stand out in gold – the highlight of our trip will be a visit to your home on August 8 – I’m so excited!!!
Wonderful – the wild flowers meadow will be in full bloom and so full of insects – it is really quite noisy!!
I love the snow-covered castle- makes me want to open the book and go inside.
Always enjoy your blog,
Dear Lady Carnavon,
First of all I love the cover of your book and am so looking forward to adding it to my collection and giving it as a gift as well. I also enjoy your writings and so look forward to Mondays. I enjoy the photographs too. My dream is to make it over the pond and visit Highclere.
Have a wonderful day.
I think this is one of the longest ‘threads’ of conversation/replies I’ve seen to date, in response to our thoughts on what picture to use!
I am partial to the picture on the right – that incredible view of Highclere from a distance, in the snow, leading one towards the warmth of the most welcoming Countess of Highclere – you, waiting at the door to greet us, on the inside page.
They are both beautiful pictures, whichever you choose!
I shall be placing my advance order as well, for my companion to ‘At Home at Highclere’.
All the best from Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada.
I think I am for sure the back page … there are more welcoming photos just as you turn over.. it is just trying to convey everything clearly!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon
Love the cover, will be buying the book come September, can’t wait. Enjoy the summer season.
Thank you Lorraine!
I think the current pictures are perfect. The both say ‘Welcome!’ Welcome home or welcome to our home. Both are lovely thoughts and wonderful ways to say hello. Looking forward to your book.
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
I, too, love the book as well as all things Highclere. I love the ice blue cover, my suggestion would be to surround it with a lush Christmas wreath, which would frame the edges of the book and the castle. That would make it a standout visually, and clearly denote it as a special holiday volume.
Thank you – lots to give pause for thought!
Yes, I agree with Beth, the picture of you at the front door or the castle in the background as you ride your horse. Thank you for the photo of the beautiful Carlton house desk as we dream that the blog may have been written from there. However, the greatest gift is having a large family. Best wishes to all, especially your sisters. Have a lovely week.
It is a contemplative desk
I love the cover of you peeking out from behind the doors…which are unmistakable. It is Christmas, elegant yet casual and most of all, welcoming. I can’t wait for my visit in August and for the movie in September. 2019 is clearly the “Year for Highclere!”
Blessings to you~
I agree with those who suggested the cover of your book would be ” when the snow was falling when Matthew proposed to Mary” I enjoy reading your blog and hope some day to return to visit again. Thank you for sharing your world with us.
North Carolina, USA
It was a great scene…
My family has watched Downton Abbey for years and while doing so we have fallen in love with Highclere Castle. I began following your blog about a year ago and I have thoroughly enjoyed it. I am so excited because me and 2 others of my family are visiting Highclere Castle next Sunday! I still cannot believe that we are fortunate enough to be visiting there! I am so hopeful to meet you while there but if not, please know how much we all appreciate your love and devotion of the castle & thank you for allowing the Downton story to be filmed there! I am excited to acquire your new book.
Kind regards to you and your family.
Thank you – I am around next sunday – there is a also a country fair which I also enjoy!!
Love the picture of you at the front door.Yes,Christmas is all about welcome and this photo says it all.Hope to walk through those doors myself one day.
Greetings from Victoria,Australia where we are having a warm week to end Autumn.
My children (10 & 12) and I can’t wait to find out your Autumn tour dates. The children love Downton Abbey and what a thrill it would be to visit Highclere and learn more about this impressive castle. I hope the openings coincide with our visit to the area in mid September.
Thank you for sharing your special space with the world.
I have just booked a tour for the morning of October 16 and am beyond excited! I hope we have the chance to see the movie on our travels before arrival!
You, dear lady, are one of Fate’s fortunate children: Custodian of a treasure, and apostle of Clio.
The longest thread of comments ever (149) And I agree with other persons that you should be on front cover or on an About the author page. It is the most perfect photo.
Will you be including your recipe for Lady Carnarvon’s Scones in the Christmas book? My 2 1/2 year old grandson and I made them last week. Even though he hasn’t quite gotten the notion of “handle the dough as little as possible,” they were delicious!
This time I have added a little orange and a few spices. I thought they were delicious – tasted a little and had to keep tasting!!
Again, thank you for a great read! I love the picture of you with the door, it does look as if you are inviting us in. 🙂 I am so hoping to one day be walking through those doors. It is a dream of mine. Thanks for taking the time to make us feel as if we are there every week.
Thank you Jill
Love the cover and I look forward to owning a copy!
Lady Carnarvon, My very favorite episode on Downton Abbey , was when Matthew proposed to Lady Mary. If this is a Christmas book, the perfect scene would be al tge twinkling snowflakes, Downton Abbey being so beautifully highlighted looking pristine and almost white! That scene when Matthew proposes it truly beautifully filmed and orchestrated.
I have never responded to your blog before, although I enjoy it intensely, I just feel so strong about this question posed.. You are a wonderful person to open up your heart to us, and I thank you! God Bless…
Thank you – having finished a book I then worry whether you will like it – it is opening various stories and memories of one’s life!
I did like the Matthew and Mary scene except I remember the fake snow – some sort of ash which got everywhere!!
May 20th 2019
I agree with the other comments here to use the picture of you at the front door. It is lovely and inviting the reader into a family home, and the anticipation of the beauty that is awaiting inside.
I look forward to visiting this July with the Acorn TV tour!
I also love the picture of you peeping around the front door but small children, snow, dogs and your local church all evoke the season too. I think an outside picture with all or any of those which evokes the crispness, associations and a day set apart which we all hope for in that season would be good.
Thank you – I think it is outside on the front and then inside!
Thank you for sharing Highclere with us. A visit to your home remains a favorite memory of our family. Your blog photos are always wonderful. The book sounds inviting and I love both of the cover photographs. My 23-year-old, Elisabeth, immediately chose the castle view, citing it as the most identifiable. I love the rich colors of the doorway photo, but for those who don’t know you yet, the castle does put her best foot forward in the lovely snowy picture!
I absolutely love the cover! It makes me want to buy the book right now! Beautiful.
The cover is lovely and exudes an aura of Christmas celebration. I can just imagine what is going on behind those stately walls – wrapping presents – meal preparation – laughter…
I am enjoying your “At Home at Highclere” book – I know I will enjoy this! (You signed the book for me during my visit on June 3, 2017 during the Special Tour – I treasure it. Thank you again.)
I think the cover is perfect! I still remember driving in for our visit almost three years ago. The moment the top of Highclere appeared on the horizon it simply took my breath away – beautiful!
Dear Lady Carnarvon, I look forward to your new blog each Monday, and this one is wonderful! I’m very excited for your new Christmas book, and, of course, the upcoming Downton movie! Thank you so much for sharing bits of Highclere with us!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
We have booked to see your beautiful ‘Home’ on the 7th July in the afternoon. We will travel with a friend in a wheelchair/bed and hope for good weather.
I have also purchased your book about Lady Almina. I decided to buy it after watching you on YouTube. She sounds like an amazing woman, ahead of her time. I hope to read her soon. My husband loves to cook and I am sure he will love trying out the recipes from your new book when I buy it for him for Christmas. As for the cover, I think your choice is perfect, especially for Christmas. It never gets cold enough for snow in Queensland Australia, so for me it looks very Christmasy. I especially like your photo at the front door at the back of the book, it is as if your saying to your reader thank you for coming, please revisit us again.
This morning I saw the new Official trailer for ‘Downton Abbey’ due to be released September 12th, I know Disraeli stayed at Highclere but I was wondering if our Royal Family have, past or present, and if so, is this where Julian Fellowes got his inspiration for the film?
Heather from Australia.
Highclere has indeed welcomed royalty! one weekend in the “At Home ” book describes such an adventure – welcoming the Prince of Wales
Dear Lady Carnarvon, the cover that your have now is wonderful, but if you had a night shot, with candles in the Windows, I know there quite a few Windows, lol. It would lead you in from Christmas Eve, right into Christmas day. Just a thought. What ever you choose, will be brilliant. Desiree.
This book looks beautiful! I think I have all of the Highclere / Downtown books and I can’t wait to add this one to my collection! It will be a long summer as I wait for the movie and book to come out in September!
In answer to your question, I would like to see the sky a little bluer, allowing the gold lettering to stand out more. Hope this helps.
Lady Carnarvon, I am so happy and pleased about the book and I also think it should have snow on the ground, with Highclere Castle truly standing out on the front cover. It is such a beautiful home filled with such wonderful and great memories as well as some sad. I can not wait to get a copy and read your stories and see the pictures as well as see the movie. I wish you and your family all the best, and may everything you do be blessed Thank you for still doing the blog, Andrew Nemeth
Snow…magic. Howvever, the sun is shining today, lawnmowers busy in the background!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The photograph of you at the castle door is so beautiful, it will be just perfect on the back cover as you suggest. You are glowing. However, my favourite photo in this week’s post is the last one: happiness is an armful of warm and loving puppies! Maybe I can meet them when I come and stay in July.
The pups are always around somewhere – usually somewhere where they are not allowed!
I look forward to the book and it is a lovely front and back cover, I wouldn’t change a thing!
I look forward to purchasing the book. Thank you for writing it.
I love the cover of the book! Of course if you put dogs anywhere I’m in! (c :
Looking forward to it.
I think they are so sweet – At Home had dogs too…
I have so many memories of the lovely bedrooms from Highclere in Downton Abbey.
The stories are fascinating and real. I wish the character of Sybil could of stayed in the series…
The story is still great. I can not wait to own your new book of recipes. The light blue and red look really nice. Your red coat is beautiful also. The color red is a must at Christmas! Is it not?
Red and green and white and gold … but to see them best they need to contrast – I have so appreciated all your comments – very kind
Oh my, just viewed the official trailer for the Downton Abbey movie (about 10 times already). ‘Can’t get enough of seeing Highclere Castle…and Mr. Carson walking the path and returning! And, yes, Royalty is coming, but I understand that Geordie’s godmother has spent quiet time at Highclere,
before Her Royal Highness’ 90th birthday celebration at Windsor Castle, yes? So it will be so “true-to-life” to see royalty arrive at Downton Abbey, September can’t come soon enough!
Your castle is gorgeous. Many of us fell in love with it by loving Downton Abbey. I just discovered your blog so will continue reading weekly. From Tucson Arizona.
The picture on the left is very home/family-oriented, and very “real”. But the right hand one is instantly “Downton”and so will do better. IMHO
I am a little late to the party but I love the cover.
Straight away I feel the warm glow that Christmas brings.
Where I live, it is very hot at Christmas. A white Christmas must be magical.
I look forward to living the dream through the pages of your book.
I am with all those who think that the photo of you in the doorway inviting us in should be on the front cover. It convey’s warmth, lots of anticipation on what’s behind that big beautiful door, a beautiful hostess and more importantly, it is very inviting. If I knew nothing about you or Highclere or never watched an episode of Downton, I would not pass up a book with that photo on the front cover.
But, I am baised and will buy the book which ever cover you chose to use in the end. Can’t wait for my copy.
I just discovered your wonderful blog and will look forward to reading it on a regular basis. It’s even more exciting to find it as my Mum and I will be visiting Highclere Castle in the 24th June and we both are so looking forward to it. As someone who now lives in Florida, a beautiful snowy scene on your Christmas book cover seems absolutely perfect to me. I will certainly be looking out for this when it is available.
Thank you! See you on the 24th
Just like it is seems about right !!!
The picture of the outside of the castle caught my eye and I actually thought for a moment that it was the cover of a book. So, I rather like that one for the cover and maybe the beautiful one of you on the author’s page. I love Highclere and can’t imagine being able to be there every day. God bless you and yours.
Who said “timing is everything”? On July 20th we’ll be in Southampton for the day, the closest we’ll ever be to Highclere Castle, and I was getting too excited for my own good, as I planned on taking my mother there for a tour of her beloved “Downton”. Alas! It will be closed…at any rate, thanks for giving us a glimpse, through films and books, of such an enchanting place! Warmest greetings from Verona, Italy.
Saturdays are wedding days …
In the last few weeks I have enjoyed watching every day a repeat of the whole series of Downton Abbey. What a wonderful setting Highclere Castle is in. The film is now on at my local cinema and I can’t wait to see it. I shall also look out for the book which is out now. Christmas at Highclere. Can’t get enough of Downton Abbey!
My Lady, love your blog ! Thank you for taking the time in what I am use is a very busy schedule.I love both pictures but for Christmas ,you at the door is just perfect to me !
Look forward to following you .
Advance , NC,USA
You are too kind