Just to the south west of the Castle a new rectangular beech hedge encloses triangular beds filled with herbs. I call this relatively new garden “The Healing Herb Garden”. It is not far from the tearooms and I thought it was easy to access for guests who were less mobile. Herbalism is one of the oldest known methods of promoting healing. Different part of the plants may be used from root to flower to seed in a myriad of ways including tinctures and tonics, lotions and potions, teas, stews, salads and disinfectants. Botanic gardens were founded in cities all over the world and for centuries doctors have made their living giving learned lectures on their properties and powers.
In the modern world we turn swiftly to chemists or doctors for pills and antibiotics but in the past herb broths, consommés, rest and, more recently, good hygiene were the first resort. Lavender aided sleep and fennel was for digestion. Sage, from the Latin salvere meaning “to cure” or “to save”, was a basic since, apparently, “a man cannot grow old who has sage in his garden”. Researching, I have planted a selection of these and other herbs alongside small information boards.
As well as the research, I also enjoy the actual planting, weeding and gardening myself. This alone often seems therapeutic and of course my dogs, in their own way, love to help….One herb which grows well and has so many uses is Rosemary. It is very attractive with its small blue flowers but more importantly is said to stimulate the nervous system and circulation, help stress, stop bad dreams and calm indigestion. The essential oil also might help with sciatica or arthritis.
Rosemary is also the name for an appeal launched by our local charity, Newbury Cancer Care, to help build a new wing at our small local hospital in Newbury to provide cancer treatments, consulting rooms and renal dialysis. Newbury Cancer Care is an excellent charity which I have consistently supported over some years. It is focused and specific, providing volunteers to drive those with cancer to hospitals for their treatment often some 50 minutes distance along motorways, waiting with them and driving them back home, helping patients with bills whilst they are so ill and providing practical help and diagnosis support. The Rosemary Appeal, with associated doctors and other support, has spearheaded the complex building agreements and NHS contracts needed for a project such as this. It has not been an easy process, but £2.5million (out of £4million) has been raised already and the shell of the hospital wing partly built.
As part of my support, we held a fund raising evening here at the Castle and I asked Dr Clarkson (the actor David Robb) to come down and merge real and fictional hospitals and doctors. Dr Paul Millard gave a short talk and amidst laughter offered David (Downton’s Dr Clarkson) his stethoscope. It was fun, with lots of bubbles of champagne and happiness.
The most unforgettable moment, however, was due to a very special man Peter Baker who arrived in a wheelchair. He contributed another six figure sum to the Rosemary Appeal there and then on the night. He told me that, in 1939 (he would have been 11 years old) he had helped his father (an electrician) repair cables, mark and lift floorboards in the Saloon where we had now all gathered 78 years later. I still watch David and Andy, our electricians, lift and repair them today.
Due to people like him, the cast of determined doctors, and of course Rosemary Rooke, the lady who so generously donated the land and after whom the appeal is named, we will get there.
Sir Thomas More (1478-1535) statesman and philosopher, wrote “As for Rosemary I let it run all over my garden walls not only because my bees love it but because it is a herb sacred to remembrance and to friendship, when a sprig of it hath a dumb language.”
One of my most favorite herbs! And what a worthy cause, bearing its name!
It is – and I have always so admired Sir Thomas More – there was a film about him “A Man for all Seasons” and in the centre of the herb garden is one of my favourite quotes
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven”
Rosemary herb is also very efficacious when a shot self-confidence and bravery is needed! Feeling a bit down on yourself? Rub some fresh rosemary between your fingers, sniff it deep, et voila!
Hello Lady Carnarvon:
Sir Thomas Moore no doubt knew his Bible. The popular quote from him is actually found in the Bible: Ecclesiastes-3-1: “To everything their is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:” There are eight verses that follow which to my mind lists the some of the seasons of life. The Book of Ecclesiastes was written by Solomon and gives wonderful insights into life.
Thank you for your lovely blog and the books you have written. I have enjoyed reading “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey” and will surely enjoy my next read, “Lady Catherine and the “Real Downton Abbey”.
Blessings on you.
A lovely post. I have recently learned of the wonderful benefits of herbs after my back surgery. You are so right in how we swiftly turn to commercial drugs for so many of our ailments when many common herbs found in our gardens are so helpful. It is also wonderful to witness that your small hospital will be able to help so many in your community and reduce travel to larger hospitals for treatment. We met when I attended your Victorian Garden Party last year. I am so glad I was able to attend then, as my recovery has been very slow. Thank you for opening your home to so many people and so many wonderful causes.
Thank you! If you did not see the healing herb garden here, please come back another time and I hope you get better soon. With all best wishes
Beautiful! The garden looks gorgeous with the flowering trellis and, of course, the dog! The charity sounds wonderful and what a great event to help fundraise, especially having Dr. Clarkson there. I always love when actors can use their platforms in such a fitting way.
It was a fun evening and it was very good of David to come down.
As a cancer patient, I applaud your efforts to make treatment easier for cancer patients. Traveling is exhausting and this will help family members who must help transport individuals so far away. Bravo!!
It will be marvellous and I hope be built in such a way to give peace and encouragement as patients wait. Do you know there are no consulting rooms there at the moment? Just a corridor..
Dear Lady Carnarvon: What a wonderful charity. Wouldn’t anyone just love to be close to Newbury Cancer Care with such loving and devoted care giving. I am sole care giver for my husband at this point as he valiantly fights through some spinal cord injury, as well as aging, so understand the importance of care help! I also just love your herbal garden. It must be therapeutic to just stroll through and breathe in the scents of lavender and the other herbs. Thank you so much for sharing this with us, and we wish you every success in your fund raising efforts. You will be in our prayers.
With best regards, Jane
I hope they may have a little herb garden and benches in due course by the hospital.
What a wonderful way to contribute to your community! Cancer Care is near and dear to my heart as well. We are benefactors of our local Cancer Center in memory of my mother. I also volunteer there on Fridays as a greeter, the first person people see when they enter our doors. We have created a homey and comfortable environment for our patients, included dietary staff, counseling, financial assistance, massage therapy, lab and pharmacy facilities, chemo and radiation treatment all under one roof. It is our ‘one stop cancer shop’ as our patients call it. Thank you for doing what you can to help others in need!
I am a very small part – there is a wonderful band of doctors and supporters who have battled tenaciously to get this project started and to now keep going. There have been some very kind donations too – so I some ways I am trying trying to write this blog to say to them and without without doubt to you, for all you do, thank you and “Chapeau!”
Lovely post about the wonderful properties of herbs. I plant a small raised bed of a variety of herbs every spring, including sage and rosemary, and by mid-summer I’ve pretty much let it go wild (all my good intentions of attentive pruning have gone out the window). The butterflies and bees appreciate the blooms, though!
My daughter and I also use a variety of essential oils to help with allergies, colds, and general health, including running calming and soothing blends in diffusers in our bedrooms. I like to try a herbal fix to whatever crops up before reaching for OTC or prescription drugs, and most of the time it’ll do the trick. Good nutrition and rest are a big part of it too! Not that I take my own advice as much as I should… 🙂
I hope the Rosemary Appeal reaches the fundraising goal quickly and the wonderful work that Newbury Cancer Care provides for those in need continues on, and expands, as it seems it will do with all the good people who are involved.
Cheers from Summerville, South Carolina!
Well like you I try to be good and have phases!!! I think a herb bed gone wild is as it should be!
DEAR LADY FIONA
BEAUTIFUL HERBS .A LOVELY POST.
Herb gardens are so soothing no mater their size and location. Your herb garden of course the most spectacular! I sleep with lavender from my garden in my bed pillow and keep rosemary at my kitchen sink to take in the smell and use in cookery any time needed. Thank you for the wonderful photos of the garden with the castle in the background and of the wonderful event in your home. So generous of the former electrician aide to make his way to you and with such a meaningful gift. Your good stories of life at Highclere are a gift to us all who read your blog among all the chaos going on in all parts of the world.
Thank you – as you say there is so much chaos and tragedy and, like you, I am very conscious of my luck. However in some ways that is what drives me to see how I can best share, hence this event or the one I am trying to create for Oxfam in December.
Rosemary keeps rattlesnakes at bay – which I’m sure you don’t have on your estate! Love herbal healing – always have….Keep up the good works – we need good people like YOU and the gentleman in the wheelchair !!!
So good to read about you and the wonderful people contributing to the care and welfare of others.
Rosemary has always been one of my favorite herbs. Thanks for this lovely post!
Well, what can I say….except to echo other commentators and say “What a really lovely and obviously sincere posting”.
I was particularly moved by the comments of “Debbie Yates” and “Ruth Goebel”…..both of whom touched upon the topic of living with and through cancer.
All I can say is thank you, Lady Carnarvon. you seem to be an exceptionally conscientious and remarkably kind person. Those are both all-too-rare qualities.
There’s no need to reply…..but your posting was very heartening/encouraging, on this dreary October afternoon during a week during which there’s seemed to be nothing but disheartening news.
Admiringly, and thank you……
It is a bit disheartening – you are kind but it is really others who do so much day in and out, not me …
Dear Lady Carnavon,,
I get immense enjoyment from your blogs. The recent one called Rosemary brought back memories of a dear friend (now deceased) who had given me a small book, called The Book of Rosemary by Jackie French. My hills are covered with trailing rosemary, 1400 plants in all that my husband and I planted 25 years ago. They have beautiful delicate light blue flowers all winter, and are a constant attraction for the honey bees, which never bother us, even if we walk right through them. I also chose the rosemary because they are fire retardant and are not devoured by the wildlife (probably because of their scent). The book did explain that rosemary represented friendship, loyalty and remembrance, and it also presented traditional uses according to English folklore, including a recipe for a bridal drink. This gave me inspiration for making the wedding favors for my daughter’s wedding reception. I dehydrated the rosemary branches, removed the leaves, wrapped them in a ball of fine netting and tied them with ribbon around a small scroll that told about the tradition and recipe for the bridal drink.
What a wonderful story
Your dress and shawl are stunning! Thank you for sharing your home and heart with us!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
What an important charity and what a wonderful way you chose to promote it. And such a generous donation by Peter Baker.
As for the blog’s discussion of herbs, I thought your writing of the benefits of safe and rosemary was only a matter of ‘thyme’. (Sorry, I couldn’t resist typing that!)
Returning to a more serious note, the words of Thomas More (of half a millennium ago) concerning rosemary and remembrance will have a very special significance in under a fortnight’s time when the world pauses in silent reflection to mark the century of the end of the Great War at the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.
I agree Jeffery but I want to turn my thoughts in two weeks to the future from the past, to bring people together next year on our September weekend, to consider how we can move from war to peace, and raising money today for those who serve and those who save.
I had a lovely volunteer from Newbury Cancer Care who drove me five days a week for five weeks to radiotherapy in Southampton which is about a hundred miles round trip. The compassion, companionship and support at difficult moments was incredible. I recall talking most of the way there and sleeping most of the way back, both of which he took in his stride! I am one person who is deeply grateful for this wonderful charity. Ellie Fane
Congratulations to you Ellie for keeping going and again keeping going. I was thinking of you as I wrote that part!
Sie sind eine wunderbare Frau mit einem großem ❤. Ich liebe Ihre Beiträge und Ihr Handeln ist wundervoll. Liebe Grüße aus Berlin.
Danke sehr – es gibt viele wundervolle Leute hier…
Having lived for the past 50 years in Ontario I had not realized that Rosemary was a year round outdoor plant in England. The extended gardening opportunities afforded by the British climate are to be appreciated. (Unfortunately I left the country before I could realize this.) My little rosemary plant is now inside with all its other companions until next May. Thank you for yet another wonderfully educating article.
I put a sprig of rosemary in some hot water this morning for a little tisane… I thought I had better try its uplifting qualities!!!
What a lovely charity, and an herb garden that will only get better with time (thyme?). It will be a glorious day when people no longer need debilitating treatments for horrible diseases. In the meantime, however, kudos to them, and to you for supporting their work.
And thanks to Patricia for the reminder that my rosemary needs to come in for the winter. We have had a wonderful warm fall here in coastal Connecticut, but there’s such a thing as pushing your luck.
The posting problem has been fixed (another thank you), and the blog entry arrived complete with photos.
So happy the blog is working better for you – thank you!!
Beautiful! Thank you for the warm post!
How do I unsuscribe from your blog?
Justine has sent you a separate email with all the details you need. So sorry to see you go.
Catherine sorry to hear you are leaving Lady Carnarvon blog there is so much going on at the castle with events & funny things that happen to us staff that Lady Carnarvon writes about us who work at this magic castle. This blog about Rosemary appeal is great, it makes wonderful reading, it was a real pleasure to work on that evening for such wonderful people who do so much good for others .. I even got to meet Dr Clarkson yes, you guessed it, I’m a Downton Abbey fan too hee hee 🙂
How very interesting. I enjoyed reading about your gathering and the very worthy cause it represents. Thank you as always for your blog.
Enjoy the oncoming of winter. I always feel it to be a special time of year.
Have a good evening.
Thank you – it is raining today yet it is still rather lovely!
Is it possible to send you a greeting card for the upcoming holiday season?
How lovely – and I would love to send you one !
What an informative blog…beautiful descriptive pictures as well! Thank you for being an inspiration to so many and for your support of Cancer Care. Cancer has touched my family in so many ways and I pray for a cure soon.
My sisters and I were with our parents when they died, which is a long time ago now – it remains with us in the present. Perhaps it is back to the Bible “And now abideth faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love”.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Bless you and all those wonderful people who work for Newbury Cancer Care. I had one of my very best friends pass away from cancer. If we had that level of care and support for her it would have made all the difference. I think the support system and the human touch are so essential when one is suffering from cancer. Your Rosemary Appeal is wonderful and to be commended. Thank you for telling us about your lovely Healing Herb Garden too. I can just picture sliding into lavender scented sheets or sampling some of your herbs made into a soothing tea. Heaven on earth!
No wonder you and your gardening helpers (or dogs) love tending it so! Enjoy Autumn in all of it’s splendor.
Ann Catherine Flood
Thank you for your kind comments – the volunteers and focus of the charity is so good – it is due to them but perhaps I can highlight it to say thank you and may be the idea might be useful for others
Very good herb to use. It goes well with pasta sauces, salads. Cook vegetables with it, oregano, bay leaves, etc. The pictures were nice in this blog article and always look forward to seeing more items like this.
Happy Christmas from Bangkok.
Thank you very much !
Please forgive if this is the wrong place for this post. But! I cannot find any mention on this site of the birds of Highclere. Being a birder, I – and others? – would be interested in knowing what birds are typically found in your area, any unusual or endemic birds found only in your district, etc. For instance, are there skylarks? I’ve been told they are now are mostly gone from the British isles with the exception of the Orkneys. Bet there is a local birdwatching group in your area… A pamphlet and/or a checklist could be published/sold on the subject…… Just a thought.
There are an extraordinary number of birds and we focus on supporting the species under threat – but it is going well and the flocks of lapwings for example are increasing!