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.
Diaries are such a personal window into one’s life and especially the life of a great house such as Highclere. Too often we view and appreciate the great while not glimpsing those behind the scenes that toil away without the recognition, every day to make the great what it is. Your blog will give us all a more intimate glimpse into a place that some of us will never see in person and allow us to meet people that we may never shake hands with. Thank you for doing this. I am certain your blog will continue to be a delight to us all! ❤️
Thank you I hope so!!
Thank you, Ruth. I have the same thoughts about the Blog and the insights that are written.
Please bring back the prior blog face design. Pictures were larger. Print larger. Could be read at a faster pace. Please? Am disappointed.
I think I should try to let it settle and give it a chance. I agree with you about the old way it worked but I was getting lost with the videos etc! I was in fact trying to let the photos be bigger. There were Facebook/Twitter feeds from the Castle on the old blog but there are none on here at the moment. I am trying to share a world apart … however thank you for your thoughts.
I love the new format! I actually find it easier to read. And your prose is excellent!
Dear Lady Carnarvon , I always enjoy your posts ! I love hearing about Highclere , past and present . It was hard to see the first half of this post as the sidebar was blocking it . I look forward to more posts . We had a lovely visit with cousins from the UK yesterday and this morning I saw pictures of my 2nd great nephew who was born a week ago in Oxford . I’m coming over next year for his 1st birthday and really hope to visit Highclere . I think I will pinch myself if I find myself there ! Have a wonderful day 🙂 , Ruby .
Thank you – and on your practical note, I will ask the web company to check the responsiveness as it adapts to different device!
Oxford is not far, by train or car..
I discover the Castel this Sunday 15 of October.Everything from there is more than amazing.The nature,the country side,the sheeps,the colours,and also your beautifull dogs.I was the latest visitors on Sunday and I had the privilege to see you on the bicyclete between the dogs. The black one jump on my car and he give me a little love. ♡ I miss my dogs and it means much to me to see the dogs running free in the nature. For me is relaxing.I will follow your blog with interest and I can wait to return at the Castle to enjoy another beautifull Sunday.Have a good evening!!!
Thank you! it was a chance for the dogs to go out and Winnie (the cocker spaniel) is convinced you are there waiting to pat him, in or out of cars..
Winnie???So sweet!!! ♡♡♡
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Thank you for your kind reply, especially as I was expressing regret over a mere cosmetic detail.
I will continue to be a loyal visitor of your blog. The snapshots of your life at Highclere fill a void for me and are thus like a balm. So, I will be back.
Thank you !
Dear Lady Carnarvon. I too am so glad that you started a blog. Your story telling is always so vivid and interesting, and I love the photographs which, added with your fairy dust touch with words, keep us waiting to read your next blog. Another loyal follower.
I love the new format! I actually find it easier to read and your prose is excellent!
Do something differently is always hard, books are written about change and it is a lurch so thank you for hanging on in there..
I taught high school history for many years working primarily with students with special needs. They loved the story of the discovery of King Tut’s tomb and I loved teaching it. I’ve been fascinated with Highclere for many years and have wanted to visit long before Downton Abbey happened. But now I want to visit even more. Combining King Tut with the Crawley family and the real life Carnarvons would be the ultimate experience for me. Someday!
I look forward to seeing you!
There is one thing I love about working at Highclere Castle & that is the Stories it has to tell it’s also exciting finding those stories that have been hidden in the history of time for 1,000’s years just waiting for someone to tell them. When the Plane finding team uncover lost World War 2 aircraft on the estate the research soon becomes a romantic & sad story of its last moments.. I truly believe if the castle could talk just think how many best seller titles it would have to its name. I’m liking the new look on your Blog Lady Carnarvon..
Great new idea for a blog entry—-“Archaeological Finds At Highclere.” Since the WWII plane has been found, there might be more.
I did write one some time ago https://www.ladycarnarvon.com/highclere-plane-search-team/
Perhaps it is time for an update.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The new format of your blog is outstanding. I also thoroughly enjoyed the wonderful, varied and most interesting “illustrations” (‘photos’) that you have posted.
I think we are all very much in debt to Mr Green for his suggestion that you write a blog. I am even more glad that you followed that advice.
The importance of storytelling should never be understated. In that regard I will conclude with the following quote from Vera Nazarian:
“The world is shaped by two things — stories told and the memories they leave behind.”
Dear Mr. Sewell,
Thank you, sir, for sharing Vera Nazarian’s insightful quote about the value and importance of storytelling. I enjoyed reading it!
The Woodlands, Texas
I agree and you put it so well – memories and the act of remembrance
“Director of Storytelling” is a good title for you! The blogs are a wonderful way to let all of us in on the reality of living in and running such a large establishment, especially one with a long history. Downtown Abbey was great fun, but real life always has more facets than can be shown in a TV series. I’ve been subscribing to your blog ever since I first discovered it. All of a sudden this morning’s email “New blog post from Lady Carnarvon” did not give a link to your actual blog but was a list (? I’m not sure what to call it) with blog titles and all of the words in each blog but no photos. When I clicked–and double-clicked–on “Storytelling” nothing happened, despite the little hand. I had to go to the web site to find the actual blog. I do hope this is a problem that can be fixed. But if not, it certainly won’t stop me from reading the real thing.
Thank you – I will let the web site company know so they can help reinstate the path..
Dear Lady Carnarvon: What a wonderful idea! To tell your true story in fairy tale genre! I shall be eager to see how this unfolds. You have so much to work with and your blogs have already been so inspiring and enchanting. I just love the history of the Castle and tales of all your animals, and the people behind the scenes. You have a very charming style of writing. I’m in the midst of writing my own “fairy tale” and have my very own built in illustrator/husband, so I know how very special and important this is. I love J.R.R. Tolkien’s comment in his essay “On Fairy-Stories” . . . “the Cauldron of Story, has always been boiling, and to it have continually been added new bits. . .” I shall be eagerly waiting to see your new bits as you dip into the Story Stew and share your Castle stories with us. I wish you the best, and perhaps eventually a book?? Thank you for sharing it all!
Writing this blog just made me laugh! It was a bit madder to start with !!!
I enjoy reading your posts in any format! You always delight me with your musings and insights about life at Highclere.
Storytelling is an ancient art form that connects us to our past and breathes new life into those old bones and woodlands. It satisfies that basic human need to connect with others, new places and generations past. It is wonderful to explore Highclere’s past and discover its modern side. You are a talented storyteller.
I am thinking about renting a car and visiting Highclere in the springtime, but I don’t know how to drive on the left side of the road. I’d love to see the King Tut exhibit and hear more stories!
I am not sure that driving in the USA would be a good idea on my part! Trains to Newbury are easy or there are some good chauffeur companies we use which do not cost the earth…
Thank you for your travel advice and tips! I appreciate it!
Thank you for sharing your stories! That library fireplace has grown on me through the Downton series!
Very nice looking new format. Perhaps a slightly larger type and captions on the small pictures. Your writings inspire and delight! BRAVO!
Thank you – points noted!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
It’s always a pleasure to read your stories on your blog from our home in Canada. Thank you so much for sharing some of the life on the estate. It’s exciting to discover part of the history of the estate with you. It makes us feel like beeing part of a big family in some way. I had the pleasure of visiting it last spring and I had to pinch myself to persuade myself that I was not dreaming. My wife touched the exterior walls of the castle with devotion, as if to make sure it was real. We felt priviliged We desire from the depths of our heart to return in a few years.
Thank you and I wanted to create the community page to reach out to Canadians and allow the stories to develop.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I love Princess of Storytelling! Very cute!
Please continue writting, because you show us a life that is not usual to most of us, but with such simplicity and joy. I love to see how creative you all are to keep this beautiful castle and it’s surroundings alive both with lots of memories, and breezing through the future.
Again, thank you!
Thank you, it is good to live in each day!
Love the new look of the blog…especially the entry! Looks fabulous and so do you! I always so enjoy the photos. Being a fellow horse-lover, and in general an ‘animal-person’, I enjoy seeing pics of your family of pets and livestock. And – of course – any view of Highclere, inside or out, is ever welcome! Keep up the great work…and thank you for sharing your life with us!
I thought the entry and wide photos that scroll were fun. Glad you like them
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Love the new blog, also the recipes, I will be trying all three, the summer fruit crumble sounds delicious, haven’t looked at the videos yet, they are next. I’m hoping to receive your book about Highclere for Christmas, I have put it at the top of my Christmas list. Thank you again for sharing your beautiful home and family with us. (especially the animals) Best wishes Lorraine.x
Thank you and I cannot remember whether I mentioned, but I always make too much crumble topping and leave it in a sealed container in the fridge so it is too hand for the sudden arrival of friends …
Did you once have a butler named Colin? Secrets of Highclere Castle film?
We did – he has now retired although comes in part time in the summer to help on various jobs. Luis is now our Butler who is marvellously optimistic about life as well as running a great team under him.
I love, love, love all the photos – whether they be of the castle’s nooks & crannies, or old every day minutiae that is so fascinating to us today! I would love to see the stables and barns, and explanations and photos of how they worked back in the day – like where were the carriages kept? How many would there be, and are there any left now? How many horses were kept there in it’s heyday of social events and people staying there? What did the tack rooms look like, compared to today? Etc… Thank you so much for sharing all you do! I love it all.
I am going to try to work my way through some of your suggestions – I am setting aside a day next week for videos so Paul our chef and I can take you through our Castle kitchens
The new page is lovely and my only comment is that – on my computer at least – the misc. listings on the right side of the page seem to cut off portions of words. Not a big deal and I bet your webmaster can figure that one out. Otherwise it’s just great and please keep telling those wonderful stories – I’ve enjoyed every one of them since I signed up. What a rich history Highclere and the Carnarvon family have.
Thank you again for your interest and point!
Liking the new format very much, very calm color tone, though your stories are beautiful and fascinating in any format and design! I did
get a surprise in my email however, like another person mentioned:
my email said “New blog post from Lady Carnarvon” but it was only a list of recent blogs. I, too, clicked–and double-clicked–on “Storytelling” nothing happened, and I had to go to the “Highclere” home page/web site to find the actual blog. Hope this is a problem that can be fixed!
The web designers have been reading your comments and I am sure will sort them – they have done a great job!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your new website is lovely and I LOVE the new format. I think storytelling is a great topic for this blog entry. Storytelling about the past makes history come alive. Through your blog I have learned so much about history and those wonderful people who did and do populate Highclere Castle. I love the stories you tell as you bring out life at Highclere with glorious detail. The day to day workings of the estate are fascinating. I know you and Lord Carnarvon labor to make the estate thrive and you do a fantastic job. Thank you for involving your faithful blog readers in the narrative. Now I have to peruse this lovely website!!
Ann Catherine Flood
Thank you for taking the time to look around it!
Hello Lady Carnarvon, not sure if I am in the right place to ask this, but do you have any other open days in the pipeline, for public tours or else small private tours during January or February 2018 at all that are not currently advertised? I have a Chinese friend visiting us here in Hampshire for 3 weeks on 20th January and he is a Downton Abbey fan and I would love to bring him to Highclere Castle, even if just to see the grounds/Castle exterior.
There will a weekend of tours and tea in the Dining Room around February 17/18 – will that work at all?
I love reading your posts, being a history buff and having been fortunate to visit Highclere in 2015. So looking forward to more…love the new format, but I am a solid fan, regardless.
All the best to you,
Brenda, from Nova Scotia, Canada
Thank so much – I have just found a long letter about Novia Scotia and confederation..really interesting!
This blog is stupendous. I love your take on the history and enjoy seeing the mix of new and archival pictures. It was truly a treat to meet you and your amazing staff at Highclere a few years back when we filmed there for ABC, and you continue to be a gracious and elegant standard bearer for the castle and its rich history. We need more of this type of story telling in these tumultuous times– so bless you for what you’re doing. I wish you continued success with the blog. I’m going to share it with all my friends and colleagues on Facebook.
With warmest regards and respect from the other side of “the pond”,
John R. Green
New York City, New York USA
We had an opportunity to read your blog and it reminded us of the fun times we had together when you shared your castle for the fundraiser with Virgin Galactic. What a magical evening! Marc and I still reminence about the evening and the lifestyle of days gone by. Please give our regards to Karine as we will give yours to John Green.
How lovely to hear from you! I hope to see Karine soon – she is a amazing person, a good friend and I will pass on you good wishes