Last Friday we gathered in the Green Drawing Room to host a virtual cocktail party to celebrate St. Patrick’s day. We were two days late, as Highclere Castle cocktail evenings are on a Friday whilst St Patrick’s day is always celebrated on March 17th which in this case was a Wednesday.
March 17th commemorates the day of his death and such precision is somewhat surprising given that he lived in the 5th century AD and no one is even sure of the year of his birth. Accordingly, we decided that we did not need to be so literal, that days and dates are increasingly merging into each other in any case in these strange times and, channelling the Dowager Lady Grantham’s “what is a weekend”, Friday would be just as good as Wednesday.
St Patrick is the patron Saint of Ireland but was born in England, probably in the northwest, possibly Cumbria, to Roman parents. As a boy, he was kidnapped and abducted to Ireland where he worked for six years as a shepherd before escaping and fleeing back to England. He became a cleric and later returned to Ireland where he converted and baptised thousands of people, becoming the founder of Christianity there.
One of the ways in which he explained the doctrine of the Holy Trinity to his audience was famously by using a shamrock as a metaphor which, as a result, has become the symbol of Ireland. He became the first Bishop of Armagh and Primate of Ireland It wasn’t all plain sailing – for many years he was still essentially a stranger with little protection and, like many others in that situation, was beaten and robbed of everything he had. Usefully it is also claimed that he banished all snakes from Ireland which is why there are none there. Eventually, he did return to England where further legend claims he founded Glastonbury Abbey and might even be buried there. Thus, there is the beautiful simple chapel of St. Patrick’s which lies within the grounds of the abbey.
Today, Glastonbury is probably more famous for its festival, for the amazing music and even more legendary mud resulting from the almost inevitable bad weather. Whatever its claim to fame now, evidence from ancient timber trackways suggest that the area has been inhabited since Neolithic times and it has continued since those times to find a role as a crossroads in a flat and often flooded landscape. A festival is by no means new – it is just the nature of the entertainment which has changed over the centuries.
Some of the great treasures of the world are books and St. Patrick is acknowledged as having written two: the Declaration or Confessio which is a short account of his life and another entitled Epistolo. Both are written in Latin, the language of the church although, records suggest he spoke and preached in both Latin and the vernacular.
In those days, most people could not read and all books were written in Latin. Indeed, it was not until the 9th century that books were available in English when King Alfred took the unusual step of commissioning the translation of six key texts so that more people could have the benefit of their wisdom. St Patrick would have been dependent on storytelling to relay his point and this aural tradition continued for a millennium or more with tales handed down generation to generation. Books and stories lead to songs, plays and musicals, tying people and cultures together.
For many they have been a life saver during this pandemic, a way to visit new places and share other peoples’ lives at a time where these things are not available to us in real time. Writing them is a slightly lonelier experience and my recent experience with my latest book has involved long hours in my study with only the radio for company. However, the end object is to have fun, to have something to share, to discuss and to converse.
I hope the green shoots of Spring so strongly associated with St Patrick will encourage a revival in us all. Happy (belated) St Patricks Day – Slàinte Mhath.
Lady Carnarvon, is your new book for sale now as I for sure want to purchase it. Best Wishes, Cheryl
I will inform you when you can pre-order
MY DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
GOOD EVENING FROM BRAZIL,
MILADY ,YOUR COCKTAIL PARTY LAST FRIDAY ARE WONDERFUL AND THE BUTLER LUIS COELHO IS PERFECTLY IN THIS JOB. CONGRATULATIONS TO YOU AND YOUR HUSBAND LORD CARNARVON
RIO CLARO – SP
Lady Carnarvon – thank you for your weekly posts. My wife and I look forward to visiting this summer!
I look forward to meeting both of you!
I have found this a very interested read that I decided to share it to my facebook page. Thank you for writing and sharing this information. Linda.
Thank you for the history of St. Patrick. Very interesting.
A new book did you say? What did I miss? How exciting! What or who is the topic this time. I do so enjoy your writing and the fruits of your research.
Interesting. I was always led to believe St Patrick was Welsh, not English.
Cocktail party on Friday was wonderful. I hope you keep them up. My husband and I look forward to them.
Thank you and greetings from Illinois.
Thank you Marilyn
I am from Bolingbrook!!! Where are you?
I love Lady Carnarvon’s blogs!!!
Have a day!
Thank you so much for that wonderful story of St Patrick.
My ancestors are from Ireland so it was a welcome story indeed.
A belated Happy St Patrick’s Day to you and your family..
Kathleen from Canada
Thank you for your insights and history lesson. Some facts about St. Patrick I never knew!
Beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.
Very nice info about St. Patrick! Thanks.
I am still hoping to identify and find clear in-focus image of the gentleman’s portrait shown on upper right of green drawing room image. Am I correct in thinking it might be portrait of Seymour, Marquess of Hertford, painted by Reynolds circa 1759? I believe there is a companion portrait of his wife next to his on drawing room wall. I am hoping to include miniature versions of the family portraits in my 1:12 scale dollhouse Drawing Room. I always enjoy reading your blog and seeing the photographs of life at Highclere Castle.
It is a Carnarvon relative by Beechey
Thank you for a little history today!
I always look forward to reading you blog. The history is interesting. Thank you for all your research and hard work.
The green shoots are rising and daffodils are blooming here in Kentucky. Thanks for interesting facts about St Patrick, many that I did not know.
May your Spring be a lovely, reviving and happy one!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
in times where the majority were illiterate and the written word was predominantly in Latin, to be able to create a reputation, history and following such as St Patrick’s, he must have been an amazing character with some incredible qualities. Despite living a stones throw from Glastonbury Abbey, and spent a lot time in the grounds, I have not yet been into St Patrick’s chapel. Next time we are allowed in, I’ll seek it out. The Glastonbury Festival (its actually in Pilton) causes bedlum on the roads for us, and yet nobody really minds as it is such a glorious event. Long gone though are the days where scrumpy could be bought at the side of the road in 5 litre plastic bottles. Hang-over in a bottle. Much prefer a Highclere Gin cocktail!
Interesting story, thank you!
I love your cocktail parties!
My daughter and I are planning a trip to Highclaire castle in 2022.
What is the best time to visit? I’m thinking spring or fall
Rita west from Warren Ohio USA
Both are equally as beautiful
We are from Louisiana, and since discovering your blog and Viking.Tv stories, we have planned a cruise out of London in August and plan to visit Highclere before the cruise. My husband’s family (Whitakers and Sirmans) emigrated from England. My husband’s 5th great grandfather, William Whitaker, was Master of St John’s College, Cambridge in the late 16th century. His picture hangs in the Library there. The Sirmans/Surmans come from the Tewkesbury area. Therefore we love history and the stories of England. Your stories are always so interesting and full of history , insight, and much love for the past and present of Highclere. Barring any more quarantines, we hope to meet you in August.
I look forward to meeting you when you visit Highclere
Thank you for this compactly informative and gracefully written history of St. Patrick and his day.
I will be forwarding the link to this along to my own distribution to enjoy–a delightful pickup for a somewhat overcast morning!
Thank you for the history of St. Patrick. I never knew anything about why we celebrate the day!
Dear Lady Carnarvon & Monday Family,
Greetings from a very water logged Sydney. I hope this finds you all well.
The effectiveness and success of St Patrick’s ministry and conversion of the Irish to Christianity are astonishing.
For 20 years he traveled around Ireland baptizing the people and establishing monasteries, schools, and churches. To successfully convert a nation is remarkable.
Lady Carnarvon, I wish you well with your new book and await details of its publication.
And to all bloggers:
“May the roof above you never fall in and those gathered beneath it never fall out.”
Thank you for your insight to St. Patrick. All I had heard regarding him was the driving the snakes out of Ireland. I enjoy your post and would love to be able to visit your beautiful home once again.
Again, thank you for the history of St. Patrick!
I’ve purchased your gin and food it delightful. For the past week, I’ve tried to order another bottle online and the shopping link doesn’t seem to be working correctly.Have you noticed a problem with it?
Please try – linktr.ee/ladycarnarvon to order Highclere gin
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Books are indeed a wonderful way to “travel” these days. As a result of my armchair traveling I have spent many enlightening days in Great Britain and in particular the historical past of this “sceptred isle”. Thank you.
Being Irish, I know about St Patrick but hadn’t heard about the Glastonbury connection nor that he had written books. Many thanks for your interesting blog, Lady Carnarvon.
Dear Ms Greene,
You can access the modern English translation of St Patrick’s ‘Confessio’ at this link:
One further matter I meant to mention concerns St Patrick’s place of burial.
I have read that St Patrick was buried about 20 or so miles south of Belfast in the Down Cathedral at Downpatrick, County Down.
The Annals of Ulster, for 553, record the opening of the tomb of St Patrick 60 years after his death by St Columcille and the recovery from it of his goblet, his Gospel and the “Bell of the Testament”. An angel allegedly directed St Columcille to send the cup to Down and the bell to Armagh, while keeping the Gospel himself.
According to legend, whenever Saint Patrick had set up a new Christian community, he would choose present to the person/disciple chosen to lead that church a bell to call the parishoners to prayer, and to use during religious ceremonies. Ain Connaught alone St Patrick bestowed over 50 bells, and at one point had as many as three blacksmiths among his followers, who were employed full time to make bells.
St Patrick’s own bell weighs 1.7kg, measuring only 7 inches in height and is made from two iron plates bent into shape by hammering
In the year 1100 a Shrine was made to house St Patrick’s bell. It has an inscription along the edge of the backplate that states it was commissioned by Domhnall Ua Lochlainn, who was High King of Ireland between 1094 and 1121.
Saint Patrick’s Bell and Bell Shrine are now on permanent display in the Treasury Gallery of the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin.
One last tale, concerning St Patrick’s Bell, was reported in the Irish Times, 10 years ago, as follows:
“At the beginning of the 19th century, the last member of the Ó Maellchallain family, a priest about to die without heir, sent for his former pupil, the Belfast merchant Adam McLean. He told McLean to dig at a certain spot in his garden, where he found this bell enclosed in the magnificently ornate shrine that was made for it in Armagh around 1100.
It was of course St Patrick’s Bell.
The Ó Maellchallain family had been “keepers of the bell” since medieval times!
Lady Carnarvon did you have a nice Patrick day on Wednesday 17th March the pictures our nice
Wonderful thank you
Lady Carnarvon thank you for send the pictures on your blog l enjoyed have them
Thank you for your most interesting blog about St. Patrick this morning.
As a kindergarten teacher, St. Patrick’s Day was about the most fun holidays the little ones celebrated. Of course, the leprechauns always played some tricks in the classroom, too. A most delightful picture book is St. Patrick’s Day in the Morning about a little boy who gets up at dawn to get to his town’s St. Patrick Day celebration on time.
Lady Carnarvon, could you please give me the new address to your podcast and to your Instagram site?
Thank you for your wonderful entries each week.
highclere_castle is the link for the Instagram
Thanks for well-preserved and interesting history of St. Patrick’s Day. During the past year, many have turned to research about personal and general history of the past to pass the time. I’m looking forward to your new book!
Begorra and happiness in the coming year!
Good health to you also. My maiden name is McMahon. I have traced our family tree back to a Marquis of the tribe McMahon in Roscommon. My father actually owned a quary in Ireland that he gave to the 12 families that worked it as he had no plans on returning to Ireland to stay. The families worked the land and paid the taxes on the goods without my father knowing for many years. Somehow, it became known of our ownership and he was notified here in the USA. He travelled over to the area and met with the families to whom he deeded the land. He said it was a beautiful part of the country and that he felt honored to have been part of the gentry class. To this day, I still own a wee small plot of land in Ireland. I will continue to pass this wonderful legacy down to my children who in turn will pass it down to their children. St. Patrick’s day has a special meaning in our family as my only Niece was born on the 17th and was named Patricia.
Lovely story thank you
I love your blogs. They are a great way to start the week.
Dear Mr. Sewell,
I cannot tell you how much I enjoy your erudite commentary! It adds to the flavors of the feast Lady Carnarvon so graciously presents to the Monday morning family.
Take care & hope you stay safe in your rain-soaked area.
Thank you so very much for your kind words and good wishes.
You are certainly correct about Lady Carnarvon generously serving us a wonderful feast every Monday and your analogy was ‘delicious’.
I hope you have an enjoyable and enriching week.
How lovely to hear from you Jeffrey!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you again for a most entertaining and Informative Blog. The Greens are finally appearing on this side of the Pond but of course the Parades etc had to be cancelled because of Covid 19. With hope that next year we will again be able to share a full Saint Patrick’s Day.
Noted in an earlier reply to your blog the plans for your new book. Hopefully it will be on the Centennial of the Discovery of King Tutankhamun’s Tomb. I hope to be on your list when publishing date is set.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I’m excited that your new book will be released soon. You have such a wonderful way of blending past world events with the history of Highclere, whether it involves people, animals, exploits, food or nature. On St. Patrick’s day we normally have corned beef, cabbage, carrots, potatoes and onions as a main dish. What do you normally serve to observe that day?
Blessings and Aloha,
Irish stew I make with streaky bacon, onions, carrots, pearl barley, potatoes and spring onions
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
My daughter, Kate, and I are devotees of your blog and so appreciative of your parting the curtain to show daily life and activities at Highclere today. It is a rare privilege to see behind the scenes of such a great house through the perceptive lens you share.
About St. Patrick and those snakes. I have a perhaps controversial explanation for that aspect of his myth. The matriarchal religion of Old Europe, as so brilliantly resvealed by Maria Gimbutas, makes clear the connection between that religion’s devotion to life and the imagery of snakes. In fact, the famed and iconic statue of the Cretan Goddess shows her crowned with snakes. It’s not a big leap from this to connect St. Patrick’s banishing of paganism from Ireland to his supposed ridding the island of snakes.
Please tell us of your new book in an upcoming blog!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your Monday writings bring joy, history, and inspiration. Even the Monday mornings that are particularly busy, I know your beautiful posts are there, waiting to be read. Thank you so very much. St. Patrick had a tumultuous life and much good came from it. I hope the same for the tumultuous year that has passed…. may we fine unexpected blessings.
The Friday Cocktail Party was loads of fun- thank you!
I hope you and your loved ones stay well. Happy St. Patrick’s Day & Happy Spring!
Charlotte Merriam Cole
We still all have tumultuous lives ..
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for another fascinating blog with wonderful photos. I always enjoy reading the informative comments from your many followers too.
My eldest son was born on 17th March so it’s a special day for us with happy memories of parties over the years. In fact during lockdown we’ve been sorting out all our pictures.
It was very fitting that he married a beautiful Irish girl a few years ago. Her family is so welcoming to us all and my granddaughter does Irish dancing of course.
How very fitting !!!
I so enjoyed the information on St. Patrick! Wonderful story!
(Especially since he banned snakes! I so hate them! HA!)
Have the best day, Lady Carnarvon!
Blessings to you!
In the picture of your husband, I did not see that he was wearing green! “As the tradition goes, wearing green on Saint Patrick’s Day is supposed to make you invisible to leprechauns. They will pinch you as soon as you come upon their radar if you don’t wear green.” Have a lovely day!
His trousers were green !!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your Monday blog, history on Saint Patrick, and “green” pictures.
Look forward to an update on your new book.
Until next Monday, have a productive week.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I really enjoyed today’s information about St Patrick. On a trip to Ireland 5 years ago I learned so much about Irish history. I was fascinated by the Celtic Crosses that were so prominent in that country. My research told me that the early Irish worshiped the sun. St Patrick preached that the cross of Christ surpassed any power of the sun in it’s eternal value. The circle is behind the cross and represents the sun. The cross is preeminent. As the Irish converted to Christianity the Celtic Cross became a meaningful symbol of their conversion.
Thank you for your emails from Highclere. I enjoy them so much.
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA
There is a line of continuity..
Oh how you had me giggling this morning! We don’t know what day or date it is anymore – BUT my Hubby’s birthday is St Patricks Day so we cannot forget that date! We had to learn Latin in Catholic School so I can still remember a little. Keep on keeping on and we will endure. I heard a rumor that you they might start filming this summer at your home!!! Lovely Lovely Lovely – take care, Chrissy
Lady Carnarvon, My Covid appointment has been bumped up to this Saturday instead of April 26. So excited. Best To All, Cheryl
that is marvellous!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Catching up on your blogs and again this one is no less informative. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you for persevering throughout this unheard of time. As our lives were wrapped around in travel and filming all over the world holidays, dates, and celebrations became irrelevant. We would celebrate them whenever and wherever we could.
As I plan my husband’s 100th Birthday on April 7th I have been as busy as you could imagine.
I will continue to catch up with you as time permits.
Hope to see you soon at Highclere!!
Best wishes to you and your whole family for a luscious Spring with lots of life and greenery surrounding you.
Iris & Bill Butler, A.S.C.
First of all many congratulations to your husband ! Happy Birthday
Lady Carnarvon, your Podcast this week, Farming Life is excellent. I so very much enjoyed the whole conversation with Sarah. So very good. Best Wishes, Cheryl
Good morning Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for sharing that beautiful story about St Patrick. Im looking forward to visit your castle with my husband .
Best wishes from
Thank you. It will be so nice to see people!!