Once upon a time a New York producer – John Green (from ABC) – was filming with us here at Highclere – or the Real Downton Abbey as it is called in this story. He said I should write a blog. I was not quite sure what exactly a blog was, but I have always loved the idea of a diary so I decided to follow his advice and give it a go. Unsure of whether it would be of interest, I also felt that illustrations (photos) would be useful.
Like any good story, many of my blogs are set in old half-forgotten places. Highclere’s history began long ago but, as in all good fairy tales, recently gold dust has been sprinkled over it and it has grown into a famous house, much loved both for itself and its alter ego Downton Abbey. Thus, two stories are muddled together, with a rosy hue cast all around.
Writing my blog, telling stories from behind the scenes, from our history of bones and stones, woodland and field, has become both a wonderful project and a way of sharing. It seems to grow every day and so now it is my turn to wave a magic wand and transform the old into a new blog site. I hope thereby to offer more to interest those who read it, and to be able to carry some of the stories on, in words and videos, sharing a little more what I am doing and working on behind the scenes.
Storytelling and reading are a legacy for all of us. There are few more precious moments than reading a bedtime story to your child, or remembering your father taking down a large book to read his favourite story to you when you were a child. Fairy tales involve Castles, handsome heroes, sisters, inheritances going wrong, tragedy, comfortable characters and ultimately a happy ending much the same as Downton did: there once lived a family when the sun shone more brightly than it does today and by the end Mr Carson married Mrs Hughes (eventually), Anna married Bates, two sisters endured much and triumphed and most lived happily ever after.
Highclere’s own stories stretch back much further – from when William of Wykeham lived here in his palace in 1360 or when Robert Herbert created beautiful gardens and built temples and statues. There are ghosts and Secret Gardens and people who search for more stories. The blogs share my searches for where the airplanes crashed, describe how the avenue of yellow leaved lime trees have only a perhaps just ten more days before they become straight grey branched swaying boles, tell tales of Beacon hill 2,000 years ago or discuss how I might restore a bedroom.
Justine (of Marketing and Media) helps me in my office. We were laughing and trying to choose job titles. I offered her “princess” because she is rather amazing and she told me that in a previous marketing job she decided her title was “Director of Storytelling”, so I think I might share that one with her.