Occasionally my blog falls on Monday April 1st – April Fool’s Day and in the past, I have much enjoyed writing something to amuse. This year is not such a year but looking back there was an amazing follow up to one April Fool…
I had written about the supposed excitement of a proposed fictional sci fi film. Spaceships landing on the Castle roof with further details about UFOs’ and thoughts as to where they could land – perhaps the Secret Garden if they could find it – whilst Geordie and I would have a role as extras: Stormtroopers dressed in Downton Abbey costume.
Rather amazingly, this led to a contact from the Lucas film press office and a lovely man emailed and later came for tea. One summer afternoon, we sat talking on the top floor of the coach house: scones and cups of tea, all of which led to a friendship. At that time, we were creating a weekend at Highclere to raise money for those who serve and those who save.
Part of the weekend was the unveiling of a statue of an airman carved from a fallen cedar tree to remember and say thank you to the airmen whose planes crashed here in WW2. Jeff said how could he help? Always fateful to say anything quite so kind!
I explained that I and my “plane team” had found the remains of various WW2 aircraft in the grounds here and we wanted, as far as was possible, to see if we could find their relatives to let them know. The war records of what happened were minimal and not always accurate.
Jeff offered to help find their descendants through various USA Rotary clubs. We sent him what information we had. Extraordinarily, after a remarkably short time, Jeff came back and began to put us all in touch. The letters and diaries of these men were, even now, so emotional and hard to read. Often the families only knew that the plane had crashed but had no details as to where. Even across the years and oceans, it helps to have a little more information, to be able to acknowledge where the relationship with those we loved shifted from being physically here to memories.
Many of the families have now come over, we have a Facebook group and we walk together around the gardens, pause at the cedar airman and remember.
Meanwhile Jeff continues to help us by providing stormtroopers to add fun and entertainment to the Easter trail over the spring holidays. This is wonderfully kind and slightly eccentric day as not everyone has an Easter bunny, princesses and stormtroopers handing out prizes for the best Easter bonnet. It is, however, all in a very good cause supporting a charity around improving treatment and outcome for children at Southampton hospital: The Murray Parish Trust.
Equally Channel 4 are now going to show Behind the Scenes at Highclere on TV beginning on Friday March 17th. Filmed last year, naturally this begins with Easter and the arrival of two lovely Americans on the day of the Easter Egg hunt last year expecting a private tour.
There were over a thousand children and even more visitors for the castle and Highclere knew nothing about any private tour: it had been auctioned for a charity in the USA with no reference to us. But they were here and had generously supported some charity in good faith, so to break the ice and buy time for myself, I took them down a colourful short bouncy slide at 9am in the morning. Of course they had to take their shoes off and then I thought they needed a photo in front of the slide and to humour them I also took a photo in front of the other, less colourful but larger attraction: the Castle. Of course, later on they also met the Stormtroopers!
I am not sure anything was quite what these two kind guests envisaged but they were charming and it was, all in all, a typical Highclere day. If you have not seen Behind the Scenes at Highclere you might enjoy it this Friday on Channel 4. We are also organising an Easter Trail for Murray Parish on Saturday April 15th with once more a bouncy castle… and stormtroopers. Do join us!
What fun, thank you. I needed a laugh today.
That is amazing about him helping you to find the descendants of the WW2 aircraft. It’s nice that you have helped ensure they are not forgotten. I am just in the early planning stages of putting a D-Day 80th anniversary exhibition together for my local library in 2023. Only had up to 11,000 American and Canadian troops based in the village I live in during the build up to D-Day. Just called in help from a historical collection in Canada. Just hoping a year is enough time to put this all together. Need to make these soldiers are not forgotten.
Good luck with your plans for your D-Day 80th anniversary
Lovely the pictures of stormtroopers and you and lord Carnarvon have a nice weekend and l am fan of Downton Abbey and lovely to visit highcelere castle
I hope you will visit at some point!
Love this & all the great photos!
Thanks for sharing, this made my day!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
It appears there is never a dull moment at Highclere. I have to say I never thought of stormtroopers at the Castle. What a laugh.
Again, you have shown what a wonderful person you are by trying to get information to the families of fallen soldiers. Thank you so much for having such a big such a big heart.
The Easter celebration looks like it will be a great time for everyone who is there. I hope it is a huge success.
It is a team effort
As an adult child of a WWII veteran, I thank you for honoring all veterans. I believe that special relationship between the UK and the USA is part of the reason for the great success of “Downton Abbey” in the US market. My parent’s generation had great respect for Churchill and all WWII UK communities.
There are always so many fun and exciting events happening at Highclere. Thank you for organizing these fun events for all of us to enjoy.
I am in the US – is there any way we can see ‘Behind the Scenes at Highclere??
I ma hoping it might get to PBS..
Lady Carnarvon……..It sounds like your busy season is just beginning. Even those activities that are unplanned. Just be sure to make time for youself and Lord Carnarvon. At the end of the day, those are the only moments that really matter. Success with your upcoming activities.
You are right – being together – I am aure there is a Winnie the Poo quote !!!
May the force be with you in all your endeavours ,giving joy and comfort to all.This is so needed in present uncertain times
What a world …
What fun to celebrate Easter and also hold a fundraiser for a very worthy cause! Do you have an event in September in 2024? We will be visiting after a Viking cruise.
I am in 2024 – but we are likely to keep with the magic of the Movies which just makes everyone smile
There is Magic of the Movies each September
Lady Carnarvon… I always enjoy your weekly blogs especially if there are pictures of the land and your beautiful animals.
Any chance that Behind the Scenes at Highclere would ever be on PBS here in the states? That would be a joy to see.
Always wishing you and yours the best.
It would be a good place for it
That’s wonderful. It must have been a terrifying time during the Blitz. What you do out there is pretty amazing. I will always remember my visit to your beautiful home.
The juxtaposition of stormtroopers and Easter bunnies!
Highclere seems to roll along with the punches!
I wish you a wonderful season of events at your beautiful and historic home.
I love the picture of the stormtroopers looking at the map, with Highclere and the antique automobiles in the background. I am so grateful that you were able to make the “private tour” that the couple thought they would have a memorable experience for them.
A bit mad and I hope a bit special
Thank you for this blog.
Always a pleasure to read your Monday stories.
Enjoy all the fun at Easter time.
Cheers from Canada.
Regards to all at Highclere.
Lovely picture of stormtrooper and thank you for email you send me
I was born and raised in England. I now live in Phoenix,Arizona.
My partner and I joined the CAF, Commemorative Air Force, as volunteers.
In Mesa we have an airfield called Falcon Field, where many British Air Force cadets learned to fly in WW11. The weather was better over here. The musem has planes from different wars. We have a B17 Sentimental Journey and a B 25, Maid in the Shade which we will be taking on tour soon , on the west coast and into Canada. We sell rides on these planes and have many people, young, old, retired pilots come to see us and ride in our planes. We hear so many war stories, some are very emotional.
We hope to keep the planes flying as long as we can and not forget those who “flew west”.
It sounds amazing
You can check out the museum on azcaf.org
We have a cemetery in Mesa where 22 English cadets are buried. Every year we hold a poppy wreath laying ceremony with bagpipes, a fly over and we sang the American National
Anthem and first time I sang God Save the King.
A tree was also dedicated to the Queen.
What a kind memorial
I just took a break from a project I’m working on in my small Alabama hometown. My high school class has nominated our classmate, the late SP5Rayford Gohagin, to be inducted in May to our town’s 2023 Hall of Fame in the military category. He died on a jungle invested mountain in Vietnam after finishing his tour of duty. He stayed an extra month, by request, to train new replacements. He died during a 3 a.m sneak attack by N. Vietnam on May 13, 1969, in one of the brutal battles that collectively became known as the “Battle of Hamburger Hill”.
No matter one’s view of war, as a 30-year military spouse, I understand how
important it is in every country, to keep memories alive of all who served and died.
My class decide 54 years was long enough for SP5 Gohagin to wait. Good for you and Jeff from the Lucas Film Press Office. Next time you are together, please hug each other, and consider it a hug from your virtual friend in Alabama.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Could you possibly share a photo of the cedar airman, or direct me to a previous blog of yours that mentioned this treasure? I don’t recall hearing about this tree/sculpture on Highclere grounds. My dad was a WWII veteran who served in the Pacific Theatre and I so appreciate that you honor all of these brave women and men who served. Thank you as always for your thoughtful and informative missives.
Thank you I will try and find it!
The Nov. 11, 2019 blog has one photo of the cedar airman. I don’t know if there are others. I, too, loved the photo of the stormtroopers looking at the map–just when they thought all was under control, they couldn’t find the attack location! Or at least so I like to think. Enjoy the event this year.
Those pictures of the stormtroopers were hilarious standing on the stately Highclere grounds. What memorable remark Downton Abbey’s Dowager Duchess might have made had they been a part of a DA show!!
Hope all your Spring and Easter celebrations have wonderful weather! Your graciousness to your unexpected guests was delightful!
I am also thinking about the weather !!!
It takes genuine Class and Style to rise to the occasion as you did for these Surprise Guests; these you have in abundance. A favor: if you could somehow arrange for the Channel 4 program to be shown on Amazon Prime Video alongside the documentary on Highclere, I’m sure many of us on this side of the Atlantic would be most grateful. Cheers!
I would love some of the programmes to be accessed more widely..
How interesting re WW2 airmen at Highclere. During the war my father joined the RAF Regiment and was fortunate to return back to his anxious mother (in Liverpool) who constantly worried about her 3 sons-2 in the RAF, 1 in the army who became a POW of the Japanese in Changi. Unbelievably, all 3 brothers lived into their 90’s! I do hope we can see the programme on New Zealand TV channels!!
One New Zealand man died, otherwise RAF and US Air Force
Did they ever land on the roof
I would guess not!
Another missive from me here in snow bound California and thanking you for honoring veterans
My father served in WWII as a medic leading him to medical school later. Served in the Galápagos Islands protecting the Panama Canal
Thank you for your dear stories
May we never forget …
Your weather is extraordinary ..
This is a marvelous and touching story! It warmed my heart, even in the snowbanks of Alaska, to read it. Bravo to you at Highclere and also to the folks at Lucas film.
Lovely the pictures of stormtroopers and fan of fan Downton Abbey and highcelere castle
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your Monday blog. What a story about the Stormtroopers! Would like to know if the sci-fi film with Lucas Entertainment ever comes to fruition.
Also, thank you for searching out the families of the aviators, whose lives were lost in the plane crash(s) at Highclere. What a comfort it must be for them knowing their loved ones have been properly memorialized.
Won’t be able to watch the “Behind the Scenes at Highclere”, as it is not available here in the United States.
Best of luck to you and everyone assisting you in preparing for the Easter event and fundraiser.
So, until next week:
1. be wary of the Ides of March,
2. May you have a Happy St. Patrick’s Day. In the United States everyone is “Irish for the day”, and
3. May your table be blessed on St. Joseph’s Day.
Thank you for your thoughts
Happy Mother’s Day to you and lots of mum get flowers