Who would not want to see the real Carson, Jim Carter, dressed as Carson, introducing a great concert of Downton Abbey music at the Real Downton Abbey? Mark the date in your diary: June 22nd 2019 and I personally cannot wait. We have been working on this project for the last year and will have more music, announcements and “celebrity” guests to share as the great evening approaches.
For some people there is the most wonderful muddle between the make believe world of the fictional Downton Abbey and the world of the “’Real Downton Abbey”: Highclere Castle. We once had an email from a couple in the LA movie world who asked if they could come and see us – they explained they did not have to see the Castle, they just wanted to see the set. It was, in their eyes, an obvious supposition but it left us in quandary as to how to reply.
On another occasion one of our guides told me about a guest who rather firmly wanted to know where Lord Grantham was as, if at all possible, she would like to meet him. She had looked at the photographs on display in the North library, seen a whole load of unknown characters (my family and myself) and wanted to see the people she “knew”. The guide politely explained that Lord G was, in fact, only a fictional character in a television series and that the photographs were of the real family who lived in the Castle. The discussion continued for some time until, in the end, the visitor, exasperated, said to the guide “Oh really, you are such a fool!” as she stalked away to continue her tour.
When Sibyl and later Matthew died, Geordie and I received quite a few extremely delicate and utterly lovely letters of condolence on “our sad loss”. These really did leave me stumped as to how to reply as the sentiment behind them was genuine and well-meant and I definitely did not wish to upset or hurt anyone with a tactless reply.
However, Julian Fellowes, the author of Downton Abbey, said I was the lucky one as he got hate letters about the deaths and, however much he tried to explain that the plot lines had led from the actors’ desire to move on to other roles, rather than his desire to upset the viewers, the line between fact and fiction had become very unclear.
I was in the Gallery with some visitors this week who quickly recognised the Stanhope Bedroom as the location where the young Turk died in the first series and was then surreptitiously carried round the Gallery back to his own room so as not to damage Lady Mary’s reputation. It is, in fact, a bedroom richly decorated for King Edward VII but there is no doubt that this paled into insignificance compared to dragging bodies around.
Thus we are back to THE DOWNTON ABBEY CONCERT.
Imagine being seated on a balmy mid-summer’s evening listening to the Downton Abbey music being played by the man who composed it, John Lunn, the Castle all golden and lit up behind the stage, Jim our host, dressed as Carson, perhaps with our own Butler bringing him a cocktail to get it all on the road…
We would love to welcome as many guests inside the Castle as possible over this weekend so I am going to curate both afternoon and evening tours and events to take place around the concert. So, if you are making plans to travel here for the concert, then you can also see “the set” and we could suggest some itineraries.
PS The tickets go on sale through LiveNation Friday December 14th. We are creating a lovely Post Concert Reception and Castle Tours on Sunday 23rd June later this week.
I can’t wait for the summer!