The Long View
Standing by the statue of the 18th century landscape architect Capability Brown looking south, the land curves and falls away towards the south east, highlighted by lime and beech trees. Their leaves and trunks are lighter coloured, touched with hues of autumn whilst towards the west, the rich green grass parkland is bounded by darker trees, cedar for example, which cast more substantial, defined shadows as the sun sets each day.
Everything here is about the long view: farming and the park landscapes require a long view, building a business here involves taking the long view and every version of the house in the centre of all this was built brick by brick for the future and not just the next decade.
In 1771 Capability Brown only saw the trees he marked out on plans for here as saplings, even if some were twenty foot high. He created a vision, a dream and, with the 1st Earl of Carnarvon, planted it for future generations. The eighteenth century was a time of large change in the concept of landscape gardening. The formality of French and Italian gardeners was put to one side and English estates embraced a more naturalistic approach creating large parks which shaded lines of trees into farming land. Capability Brown’s philosophy and creations were followed by the romantic movement whose followers admired nature in a more raw and unchanged state untouched by human hand. Highclere however remained, and remains, more sculpted by man’s hand and thus perhaps reflects a tradition and a point in time.
Nevertheless, whichever direction you or I walk at Highclere, we are walking in other people’s footsteps. Some of the paths are ones we still follow today, some of the paths are barely discernible and others entirely abandoned as we no longer have a reason to go that way. Here is the remains of a medieval house and village, there an ancient road. Here is where a wall stood and there is a dovecote. Observing the detail highlighted by different seasons and researching the archives leads to understanding more and more about this small corner of England.
In an unstable world, our homes and the visible history at heritages such a Highclere give a sense of time and place, an anchor. Looking back does not keep us in the past, but can clarify the nature and structure of problems today. Apart from the Italianate gothic Castle that is now so well known, the heritage which seems to be just as important is that of longevity. With really only two owners at Highclere since 749AD : the Bishops of Winchester and Geordie’s family, it embodies the idea of stewardship – that Geordie and I are simply life time tenants of something rather larger.
To extend the analogy we are all tenants of this world. One British 17th century poet, George Herbert (distant relation), in his famous sonnet “Redemption”:
“Having been tenant long to a rich lord,
Not thriving, I resolved to be bold,
……to afford, a new small rented lease.
In this case negotiating with Heaven and after certain travels is offered redemption/ a new “lease”.
Our lease is of a time and place, with ever more interwoven relationships in terms of economics, dependence and transmission of all things both good and bad. I hope we will be allowed to continue to plant trees and create more winding garden paths for our successors to follow.
Missing Highclere so much right now! (Especially during isolation because of Covid-19). I look forward to visiting you again, Lady Carnarvon, when it is once again safe to travel!
The imagination and creativity of past residents of Highclere have left a legacy for all to enjoy from across the world. Grateful thanks to Lord and Lady Carnarvon for their continued dedication. We hope to be able to visit again from Australia in the not too distant future. Thank you. Kind regards Kathryn Sutherland Brisbane Qld. Australia.
So grateful for your generosity in sharing the stories, history and gorgeous photos of Highclere Castle! I plan to visit one day from the U.S. Pacific Northwest! Until then, I will enjoy your blog and lovely podcast!
Thank you Karen
Thank you for sharing these spectacular views. It makes a great birthday gift. I’m looking forward to the day when I can come in person. Thank you Lady Carnarvon for sharing your wonderful estate with others. You are truly a blessing. Sending blessings to you and yours.
How kind,thank you
Always love reading your blogs! And seeing the pictures…. reminds me of a gentler time, when the pace was slower, and the care taken was greater.
Very fitting for todays events.
Thank you for once again telling the loving story of Highclere Castle and the diligence with which its owners have cared for it as they looked toward the future.
This is particularly poignant for my husband and me as we are packing to move to a retirement community where we will miss our backyard so much. Not only the blue birds and cardinals and myriad other birds, but also the beautiful saucer magnolia, the redbud, the crepe myrtle – the tree whose Chinese origin name means “hundred days red” – the azaleas, the flowers – we leave for the next owners.
We look ahead to new views and new friends, somewhat hesitantly but with hope for a “new view.”
So glad we can still look forward to your news each Monday!
All best wishes for your new view!
I truly believe we are all connected and every little positive step has an impact on the whole…. and you touch so many people and spread rays of sunshine with these beautiful weekly posts Lady C! A treasured connection to my English roots! Gorgeous photos again and wise, thought provoking words. Thank you!
Thought provoking words = true art! Smart words will last a lifetime and stay with u forever. Sending love and peace to you my friend
Thank you for sharing so many fascinating historical titbits and letting us participate in your everyday lives! To read your blog is always a special pleasure on my Mondays. Stay healthy and happy! Kind regards from Austria
Historical titbits are extremely fascinating in this particular blog. Interpretation is the key to all the answers I’ve been searching for. I wish you all the best in your peaceful endeavours. Much love. Lola
To acknowledge our past, we must also acknowledge our present, and what we do today, will affect what our future holds for all of us.
I have missed reading your entries Lady Carnarvon. I have spent the last six months helping my local community navigate through this pandemic, and I am tired, but I persist.
I believe that the last six months has made it clear that we had to go back to the simple things in life that we were taking for granted. We needed to see that our lease here on Earth is supposed to be much more meaningful in terms of personal connections, which many of us had forgotten about.
When we were unable to come together in a time of crisis and our mental health suffered. We are not yet back to that place where that can happen, so we reflect much more on what family and loved ones really mean to us so that one day (hopefully soon), we can hold our loved ones and remember why those physical connections are equally important as a healthy state of mind.
Many of us are tired and I am not sure we will end up back where we started… but I hope at a different point on a more even keeled journey
I am newly come to your blog Lady Carnarvon, and am already wanting to visit. Someday….
Thank you for your lovely sharing.
Someday – for sure!
Spectacular views. Thank you.
Dear Lady Carnarvon & Monday Family,
Greetings and salutations.
Jardin à l’anglaise. The informal (or should I say, ‘natural’) style of a garden arose as a backlash to the stereotyped architectural gardens of Europe but it then became so diverse that it conquered the world itself.
The great Englishmen, Kent, Brown & Repton, were genius landscape architects and innovators. I have always considered that their interposing of buildings, relics (monuments) and diversions of streams etc must have been of a significant influence on the 20th Century American architect, Walter Burley Griffen who designed and planned the entire layout for Australia’s Capitol City, Canberra. Of that, I am very pleased.
Your blog concerning the design and work put in by Capability (“Lancelot”) Brown arose my previous thoughts of what actually constitutes an English Country Garden. In that regard, does anyone agree with the proposition that the poem, ‘An English Country Garden’ would better be referred tp as ‘An English Cottage Garden’. (No monuments, relics, diverted streams etc – or even trees? – there.)
Nevertheless, who could ever forget the fine words:
“How many kinds of sweet flowers grow
In an English country garden?
I’ll tell you now of some I know
And those I’ll miss you’ll surely pardon
Daffodils, heart’s ease and flox
Meadowsweet and lilly stalks
Gentain, lupine and tall hollihocks
Roses, foxgloves, snowdrops, forget-me-nots
In an English country garden.”
However, there is no mention of trees, lakes, relics, etc.
It always reminds me of tranquility.
Have a wonderful week.
Thank you Jeffrey and, likewise wishing you a good week.
Good morning from Fort Worth, Texas. When tiring of listening to news reports, horrifying news of the atrocities occurring throughout this world, I take a stroll among the small pockets of beauty I have created around my home. My slices of paradise. Watching the variety of birds, butterflies, and checking to see if our resident possums ate the sliced apples I prepared, the antics of young squirrels, my heart rate slows back down and I once again see hope for the futures of my grandchildren, who have inherited my fascination and respect for all of God’s creations. I have taught them that everything we do affects future generations, so take loving care in planning for the future. It is time for reflection. Thank you for sharing such beautiful prose. You are indeed a treasure.
Thank you for your insights.
The mushroom picture captures my imagination!
How lovely to stop and contemplate the long history of Highclere….
You and Geordie are lifetime tenants. Do you take the long view and ponder who will be Highclere’s future tenants?
Sandie Whitefish, Montana
I can live as best I can and try – God does not ask any more
Your historical stories are wonderful! I am impressed by the thought of you having the remains of a village on your property, and ancient roads. Perhaps you could put little signs up pointing to the historical features, allowing visitors to walk to them and experience the historical sites. My husband and I visited you with a Viking Cruise group, and received a private tour. I don’t remember any of these being mentioned. Even pictures would give visitors a sense of the importance and history of your estate – just a suggestion. Thank you so much for your hospitality.
Mary Grace Benko
What an inspirational column about taking the long view. The British term “taking the long view” is comforting to this American. So many people throughout history have endured worse than we are now enduring with the coronavirus quarantines. WWII was four years for the US and much longer for the UK and Europe. This is the legacy we have from our grandparents and great grandparents, to “take the long view” and endure. I love your columns and books. I have been watching your wonderful videos, especially the cooking videos, and find them a balm during these anxious times. We had been planning a trip to Highclere before the quarantine and hope to be able to visit one day. Blessings to you, your family and staff.
We have so enjoyed your podcasts, and your virtual cocktail hours throughout this unusual time. However, I have to say your Monday blogs always add a bright spot in my Monday workdays.
Thank you so much for not only your careful insight into adapting to the circumstances, but also your reminder that we all should strive to become stewards in our own environment. Continued blessings to you & Lord Carnarvon, your family & your wonderful team.
We so look forward to the day we are able to make the trip across the pond, and the only concern is we might never want to leave again!
I often remember the 2018 October when I was fortunate to visit Highclere on my solo trip to England after being in Scotland 3 months. I kept repeating to myself “I am finally here!” as I walked the beautiful grounds and viewed the long vistas before a wonderful tour of the home you steward so well for the future of England and all of us. Thank you for your hospitality to so many,
Thankyou for sharing Lady Carnarvon….so interesting beautiful in many ways!
Beautifully said. We are blessed to live, albeit for only 24 years, not generations, in a 96 year old Tudor cottage in a small town in Tennessee. As I have scraped paint, replaced cupboards, and dug the gardens and paths out of the overgrown yard, I have found fascinating remnants of owners past. I feel too, that we are simply tenants here, making our mark for the future. We have opened our doors for Historic Society tours on many occasions to share this bit of out town’s history. We look forward to a time when it is safe to do so again.
Good Monday Morning Lady Carnarvon and our Monday Family,
Wonderful(as always)blog today.
It is interesting how the land keeps us grounded, no pun intended at the same time it reminds us of the past. My husband’s family lives in Pennsylvania. His Grandparents owned a small dairy farm where he spent a LOT of time in the summer. The cows were creatures of habit. They knew when it was time to eat and when it was milking time. They plodded into the barn in a single line to be taken care of with no wavering. The well-worn path was their superhighway. When I went to PA the first time, my husband took me around the farm to point out the familiar areas to me. No animals or farm activity had taken place for over twenty years, yet the highway was still quite visible. We understand the path is still visible to this day, some 55 years later. Who knows how long it will remain? The residents of the farm have left their mark on the land.
Be blessed, Lady Carnarvon.
Thank you for a very interesting piece and wonderful pictures. Every time we visit Highclere walking around the grounds always gives a feeling of being in a very special part of the countryside. There is definitely a sense of peacefulness and history.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
The parkland around Highclere is absolutely beautiful. I know you must love spending time walking all the different paths with your dogs. I can’t think of a more peaceful way to spend time.
Have a wonderful time on today’s walk.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Your weekly blogs are my favorite part of Monday mornings. You always manage to weave a wonderful array of historical and natural history facts into a broader picture – and usually give us a hidden gem or two. A few weeks ago it was a magnificent photo of Highclere Castle and Comet NEOWISE, today it’s a meadow fairy ring! Here in Kentucky, they are considered to be good luck, although some folks find them to be the opposite!
However one interprets them, it certainly is a reminder that there are so many aspects of life that remain hidden from us, just waiting for discovery. Thank you for starting my day with that reminder.
All the best,
Looking at these beautiful pictures of Highclere gives me such a sense of calm, especially needed during these times. Thank you for sharing them and continue to enjoy each day at Highclere.
A calming, thoughtful essay; thank you for starting my week with your words so beautifully crafted. You sent me back to George Herbert’s poems, many of which have been set to music, notably by Ralph Vaughn Williams. And the name ‘Herbert”, of course! I hope opening Highclere to the public has gone well and that normality is gradually returning for everyone there. I look forward to pictures of the estate as autumn gives us its colors and special sense of preparation for winter.
George Herbert’s poems are outstanding –
I love the photo of the “long view” from the roof of Highclere. What a good reminder of our need to taking the longview!
My house in Connecticut is young by Highclere standards-just 233 years-though some remains are 260 years old. You’ve given me a better perspective on it, this morning! Thank you. It reminds me of Longfellow’s poem, Haunted Houses. One stanza says:
We have no title-deeds to house or lands;
Owners and occupants of earlier dates
From graves forgotten stretch their dusty hands,
And hold in mortmain still their old estates.
It’s a fascinating heritage, which asks us to be responsible for what has been established by centuries of dreamers and builders. Let’s enjoy it!
This was a lovely blog. I could almost feel myself walking along the various paths. Well worn and not so. The remnants of a medevil cottage and village I would find very intriguing and should love to see one day.
Thank you for sharing with us all.
Palm Beach County, Florida
Stunning photos. They are really uplifting for the spirit.
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
A thoughtful and beautiful message again. Thank you so much.
Have a lovely walk with your dogs this evening in the last of our welcome Indian summer.
How lovely to read the history of .Highclere Castle I worked in the kitchen some 57 years ago learning how to cook For his Lordship under Mrs Ivy Rogers , a wonderful woman very caring and patient to myself a very young person of just fifteen years old. The Castle was my home for three years I have very fond memories of that time walking in the grounds and going to see the horses. It is such a pleasure to read of old times so a big thank you for the information
How amazing – do you have any photos ???? I just caught the end of Ivy and Johnny…
Thank you so much for sharing beautiful fotos and interesting words in not so nice times….
As I read your blog today, I was reminded of the wanderings that my husband and I were fortunate enough to experience last July at Highclere. John Donne says it well, “…every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were…” You are preserving something important to all of us. Pray continue!
I have always like John Donne
I am familiar with capability brown. His vision was awesome.
You have some spectacular views.
I love beautiful things.
Thank you for sharing.
I’ll never be fortunate to be able to go “across the pond”, or even to stray very far from here stateside. Your photos and stories make me feel I am visiting. I look forward to the Blog. Thank you. Kathy mullins. Indiana
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I can’t tell you how happy your new blogs make me each Monday; especially now. This one, in particular. I find it so helpful to remember those who have gone before us, and that we WILL get through this.
With much appreciation from Bayville, New Jersey, U.S.A. Lauri Holderried
Thanks for your distant relation, 17 c. poet, George Herbert’s reminder that we are all on rented leases. And ,with redemption, these are new leases. Thanks for extending his analogy to all.
I ind George Herbert’s poems vary special – they have been part of my life since school days
I look forward to your Blog as they have rekindled within me thoughts of the Past, Present and Future.
Thank you Lady Fiona.
“Life time tenants of something rather larger…….”your grasp of the reality of Highclere is what makes you a vital part of it….I am hoping the next generation has your passion and determination….to keep the dream alive along the spectrum of time….Greeting once again from across The Pond!
We appreciate your perspective and the understanding that the past is important to the present and the future. Thank you for helping preserve history and for appreciating traditions and history.
I am delighted to read about your stewardship and indeed that of your correspondents.
I am a strong advocate of stewardship which I have seen well defined as “active caring”. I add the term “civic” which to me means “of people and places”. I have experimented with and written about civic stewardship (“doing more with what we’ve got”)as the way to revitalise people and places.
This becomes all the more important on foot of coronavirus restrictions.
Civic stewardship can find the “passionate communities of interest” that I know exist everywhere, it can involve people and give them the means and the “permission” to bring their passions to places that need them. Civic stewardship is for all people and all places.
Thank you for setting and describing a very high standard of stewardship at Highclere and for sharing it with us – encouraging others.
A widespread civic stewardship movement may just be starting…..
Architect + Civic Planner
Civic stewardship is an excellent phrase – the long view and finding moments of happiness from what is in front of us on a daily basis.
Dear Lady Carnarvon and our Monday group
I am uplifted by your blog as I sit here in hospital getting better. No, its not Covid (thank God) but for the past 13 days I have been poked, prodded, blood out, blood in and all manner of other “goodies” but I am now on the mend and enjoying your blog once more.
I love your “the long view” which is probably why we have history. Someone with the long view wrote things down for us to relive at other times and to gain some inkling into what has preceded us. Our forefathers had the long view although at the time they were not too aware of that, nevertheless we can thank them for parks and gardens and places like Highclere to wonder and enjoy. They left a wonderful legacy.
I love the photographs of Highclere and could really investigate the ring of mushrooms, one of my favourite things to eat and also forage for.
I hope everyone else is well
Thank you Joy, get better soon
Lady Carnarvon, The men and women before us left us many things still to be seen or felt and some only to be imagined. It is Food for Thought. Kind Regards, Cheryl
Lovely England, lovely land,
Gently near my heart you stand, guarding treasures faintly seen,
half remembered, have they been handed down through generations
o’er the oceans and the nations?
Lovely England, wait for me ‘till your beauty I can see with my eyes instead of dreaming,,
Pearl of great price softly gleaming,
Shining for this long lost daughter, far away in Southern water.
The long view well yes I put forward an idea to the Parish Council here that to mark VE and VJ we plant a small copse of English oak trees. They agreed and it will be planted this winter. None of the people who made that decision including me will be alive to see the oaks in their maturity but the reason for the planting of the copse will. Sometimes you have to go for a long view
Thank you for the quotation from Herbert, one of my favorite English poets. How exciting it must be to be a distant relative of his! We are all stewards of our land, whether it is large like Highclere or small like a homesite. Thanks for the reminder, and thanks for sharing Highclere!
George Herbert’s poetry is an extraordinary – I think he is one of the top 10 of all time
What views! What wonder! Latin proverb comes to mind: Glory is the shadow of virtue. Thank you lady Carnarvon for such an inspiration. You are a marvel.
Thank you for reading!
Dear Lady Carnarvon:
Thank you for your Monday blog and the photographs in and around Highclere Castle’s grounds. The two roof top views are my favorite.
In reading this story, I seem to pick-up a sense of possible changes coming to the Castle and the surrounding countryside. If so, I hope they will be for the better and greater good.
Until next week Monday, I wish you and yours a good week.
The words you leave behind and the wealth and diversity of information you impart to future generations of your family and the world at large are a gift of immeasurable value.
Your legacy among generations of Ladies of Carnarvon, who have served as Caretakers of Highclere, is assured.
Bonnie Bartel Latino
“Looking back does not keep us in the past, but can clarify the nature and structure of problems today” is so timely. And, I love the final picture with the long shadows of the castle and the wonderful vistas of the countryside. You are truly blessed to live in, and take care of, such a magnificent home.
Thank you so much, Lady Carnarvon for this beautiful blog. It is my birthday this week and this made a super birthday present. I see places I have walked and places that I would love to when I next come home. Please be safe and thank you and Lord Carnavon for being fantastic tenants of this beautiful place
Highclere has such espectacular views, I cannot say which corner is best. Thank you for the beautiful sceneries.
I so love reading your post’s and seeing the beautiful pictures!
Thank you for sharing your lovely home, and the wonderful heritage it holds, with us.
Good morning from Iowa, Lady Carnarvon,
Three years ago this past July we visited your beautiful home as a wish come true for me. Being an avid Downton Abbey fan from day one, and being a 17th generation removed from a Robert Le Long of northern England, I realized my dream of visiting London, Oxford, Blenheim Palace but all capped off with a day trip to your home. I truly teared up as I walked the path to the front door and almost felt like wandering to the back and come in through the kitchen (as so often seen on the show) but, of course, I didn’t. The grounds you write about and share history and pictures of are breathtakingly beautiful. I stood on your front drive to simply look around at the view before me. As we drove up to park, my nose was pressed to the window taking in the rolling hills, the grazing woolly sheep, the ancient trees, the wildflowers and then to arrive at that stunning old portal was when reality hit me that I was there…finally. The trip celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary, delayed by 2 years due to a life-saving surgery I had to have, so it was doubly special to me.
Apologies for writing a long comment (my first time) but I enjoy and look forward to your musings of the the castle, family and the life you live. Family is everything and our history is all blended into it. I hope to return some day when times are safer and travel is without complication.
Thank you and I send my best wishes to you and Lord Carnarvon.
(If my profile picture shows up here, let me say it was when I had tea at the castle after the tour. The only seat left was under the stairway in the side room. Fortunately, I’m” vertically challenged” and not too big, so it was perfect. )
Lady Carnarvon, I know I sound like a never ending recording but I hope your people on your blog have taken a look see of your Instagram. The photos and videos are outstanding with many topics of interest to all. I believe your blog and your Instagram go hand in hand. Beautiful. With Kind Regards, Cheryl
You are so kind and I hope it is another link – Thank you
Lady Carnarvon, On your Instagram, it is a beautiful Autumn photo. Beautiful words. Golden leaves and a Golden Lab. Perfect. With Kind Regards, Cheryl
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Beautiful way to describe and revive the every day glory of Heighclere!
As I learn to find hope and strength after a breast cancer scare , your way of painting and transporting clouds and stories into something I can almost touch and feel is amazing!
Thank you for that!