Since we now have lovely newly built and decorated space in the old estate offices, I have tried to rationalise some of the filing and storage. As a result, some of the files which John G, our Castle Manager, used to keep in his office in the Castle are now in neat, purpose built cupboards upstairs in these new offices. Whenever I ask John a question which needs a little confirmation, he replies, in happiness, “Do wait, Lady Carnarvon, whilst I go and look at the file for you – I won’t be long. I will just leave my office, walk along a corridor, down a flight of stairs, along another corridor, down more stairs, along a long corridor, out into the courtyard, across said courtyard, into the door, through another door across the office, up more stairs, along one of the longest corridors ever, find the key to get into the locked room where the files are now kept, open the files, forget what the original question was and undertake the return journey”.
Crying with laughter, I answer that I cannot remember what I was thinking and he replies that it would help if I read his emails, especially the one he has just resent me for the second or third time. However, he has now printed it out so he can read it with me and I can tell him what my thoughts are. John is renowned for printing out emails and there is a tall line in filing cabinets around his desk and piles of paper clipped together with large black bulldog clips.
My husband, in contrast, files on chairs – he always has – and his new chic office looks just like his old, less chic office but with a larger number of very nice newly covered chairs grouped near his desk with papers on top and around them. It is rather reassuring.
I cannot speak, as I have an office that is full of papers, my study in the Castle full of papers and there are so many books on the sofas that the floor is a better option. In addition, I have a third, smaller office in another building that is as bad as the first one.
Whenever we interview applicants for a job, we do try to explain what it is really like to work at Highclere. The first round of interviews begins with my husband and John. They are both very good and earnest men explaining the areas of responsibility for each role but explaining that the Castle is very unique. In the midst of winter, I might be driving John round in a truck so he can shovel salt off the back of it. Wellies are very useful. Phones are also useful to photograph water leaks and, in fact, John has the best collection of field puddle photographs in the UK. John is from Yorkshire and opens all his windows wide. The girls in the office next door close his door, close all the windows, turn the heater on and have blankets and hot water bottles to hand. The views from the office windows are, however, amazing, no-one ever tires of them.
Often new members of the team are curious about the top floors of the Castle and, if we are putting together costumes, everyone has to help find them and the mannequins. It may well involve a bit of exploring. James, who helps me with estate matters, went up with Maggie who helps look after the horses. Wandering along a dim corridor out of curiosity, James opened a cupboard. In it was Gladys, the First World War nurse mannequin. Completely horrified, James collapsed, sat down and burst into tears. Maggie was laughing so hard she was unable to help him stand up. Gladys has occasionally sat in John G‘s chair when he opens his office door in the morning. She is, in fact, very precious and will reappear to her public again when Arundel bedroom once again turns into an operating theatre for the First World War commemoration next September.
Occasionally John enters my office and saying sorry to interrupt you? Failing to politely assure him that he is not, he then plays charades for all the office and we have to guess play, film or book and what the topic is. Rather scarily Scottish Robert now enters from his office as some sort of comic character, often wearing a random hat before exiting stage left. Quite a few Highclere team go to jump classes on trampolines and return the next day to detail their new moves. Sally bustles in from the gift shop looking for her gift shop girls who are either late or have got the day wrong.
I returned from London one day to gather that Hannah, our Press and Media lady, wanting to listen to a radio show I was on and finding the outer door locked, had decided to climb in though my office window.
What she failed to realise was that the alarms were still set. They went off and John and the team came running to find her very athletic figure precariously balanced half way over the window ledge. She did actually get to the radio in time so that, at least, was a success whilst they got the alarms off.
Never a dull moment at the Castle, I see! It sounds like the Castle is a great place to work. Thank you for sharing!
This is the funniest blog post I’ve read to date from Highclere! Loved the photos and you had me laughing a lot at all the antics…wanted to say that I think you need my help re organizing files LOL. I am in the midst of doing 40 years of my own…I’m on a roll to eliminate paper files that could burn and are such a mess…..you can scan them and save them in all sorts of forms, so access is easier, clutter goes away, and they are more safe. Not sure you would have funny tales to tell about them at that point, but it would save ole John from all those stairs and time. Hannah’s butt was too funny. I’ve climbed in many windows in my life, luckily for me, no alarms went off. Your tale of Gladys gave me a good chuckle…when I was a kid, we also had a closet of props and costumes….and a skeleton of Helen that was donated for classes. I went in there at around 9 years old, the first time without my parent’s permission of course…(terrible child LOL)…and opened up Helen’s cabinet. At first I must have screamed internally….but didn’t want to wake up the dead…hahahaha…so swallowed it..but then I was fascinated with old Helen…and proceeded to sneak all my friends in there to see her. I grew up on a large ranch and we did a lot of the things you do at Highclere, so it was an unusual life in Colorado 😀
Danke für die lieben interessanten Zeilen und wunderschönen Bilder ❤
I am glad you are laughing!!! For any efforts I have towards eliminating paper and having a clean desk policy it fails, it remains more in imagination than reality and paper just grows …every so often however,I find something quite exciting underneath a pile!
This is what I love about working at Highclere – every day is different. Most days the offices are in tears of laughter either with something that a member of staff has said on the radio that the whole castle hears, that’s when people like Scottish Robert, John and others chip in and we all fall apart in a fit of the giggles. I myself have met Gladys she sure does make you jump, and the other two in the downstairs exhibition catch me every time when checking alarms with Robert. This week’s blog is a great insight to the fun we all have working at The Office Lady Carnarvon, I wish I had been there when James met Gladys 🙂 🙂
What would be scary is if any started speaking too.. I think you might join James on the floor!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
Another wonderful blog, it sounds a wonderful place to work. I did laugh when reading about John leaving all the windows and doors open, I too are from Yorkshire, and this reminded me of my late father, who also insisted on having the windows and doors open, even in the depths of winter. In the past couple of years, I’ve found myself also having the windows open, whatever the weather.
My mother always left the windows open and I always prefer to sleep with them open -even in winter ! I think John probably wears wellies in summer as well as winter and is always prepared for things to go wrong…
Hilarious, always enjoy reading about your daily life. X
DEAR LADY CARNARVON,
FHE CASTLE IS A LOVELY PLACE TO WORK. VERY NIECE.
Thank you – and amazing views coming rain or shine
The beauty of your stories Lady Carnarvon is that you all seem as “ordinary” as the rest of us !!
What a wonderful, comforting thought……..a million thank you’s for sharing !!!
I hope on the one hand everyone at Highclere presents organised events but behind it there is humour and can do. I thought this blog was change when it seems a tricky, combative world beyond Highclere’s gates..
I would like to apply for a job…I think my filing system would serve you well
Oh good – although my filing system means John G easily walks 10,000 steps a day …
Nothing like a ‘home’ office. After 50 odd years of having office space away from home, my wife decided that a home office would suit my needs better and be way less expensive. I now have a small corner in the rather large utility room in our old farmhouse. I am now surrounded by washer and dryer, a sewing desk and shelves of Christmas decorations and unlike your husband, no place to make stacks of papers (my filing method of choice). Thanks for sharing your amusing office story.
Dear Lady Carnarvon!
What a funny and of course beautiful place to work AND to live for you.
If I would be younger and my English would be better, you would receive my letter of application for a job.
Thank you for let us providing insight your life.
Best wishes – Margit
PS: If you want to have a look into my life, please visit may blog :).
I live in Austria and my husband is a british man.
Another fun blog post about the daily work at the Castle. Thanks for letting us catch a glimpse of all the fun-and-work that goes on… I hope for most of the crew that works at Highclere that the old saying ‘it’s not work if it’s something you love’ applies. I think I would absolutely have a job I loved if I was lucky enough to work on staff for you.
I hope everyone has a great week. Cheers from Summerville, SC.
I think it is a way of life you are right !
Oh, Highclere sounds like a fun place to work! You should be proud of that fact as it seems like there are a lot of unhappy workplaces. What a rare and wonderful place to be able to have fun, work, and laugh all at the same time.
I hope that everyone enjoys themselves – it some back to community and empathy.
Difficult to change old habits. I still print out my mails and file.
Very amusing. I love having piles of books around. Very homely.
I believe you and your husband met my Son Lawrence at Michael Trapani Galea’s house in Malta.
He like Michael is a keen Shot.
Anyway. Enjoy your Blogs. Always brightens up an evening
We had a lovely few days in Malta – kind people! John G will be able to find each piece of paper…
I’ve just recently discovered your blog and I really enjoy it. I love hearing about life at Highclere. Keep posting those beautiful views!
Such fun! I love your posts! Today’s gave both my husband and I a few belly laughs!
Do you know I am still laughing and everyone here is too..
I do so love reading your blog, never ceases to make my day better. Thank You so much!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
I love your blog. I live in the Napa Valley in California. I’m a creative director for a small Graphic Design firm. I don’t recall how I found my way to your blog. But, in my busy sometimes difficult day your cheerful stories are a lift, thank you!
Thank you in Napa Valley – I can always send you more as there are hilarious stories every day – then have a cup of coffee and share stories with that make you laugh …
Wonderful post! And I can still hear your laughter ringing out when I visited the castle for the lecture series on Jane Austin. I am totally convinced that you are “the real deal”. This entry just confirmed it!
You have me laughing all through this blog! What a fun place to work. I bet there are not 100 employees sitting in 100 boxed cubicles in the basement at Highclere ( oh, right, that place is reserved for King Tut!). Well there seems to be joy and happiness amongst all the chaos, and with fantastic views out the office windows! Many thanks for this little peak into the working of Highclere Enterprises!
Do you know I spend time thinking about space and desks, what is going to create camaraderie amongst everyone here, I can’t bear isolation – doors are open but if you need privacy there are rooms to quietly talk. I utterly understand some days are more challenging but I want everyone to be happy, and if they are not, how can I help ..
Thanks Lady Carnarvon for the wonderful insights into life at Highclere!
Like your husband, I have all my papers on chairs in my office too. As I never get round to
buying ink for the printer.. I e.mail my friend down the road to print. She leaves all files, books, dishes from dinner party’s, flyers for upcoming events, church documents, etc, etc that are for other people on the floor of a large hall in a row down one side, in her house and directs me to which pile is mine! We chat along the way about what is in the other piles and I tend to come away with a lot more file’s to deliver around the neighbourhood and sometimes I have to go back as haven’t picked up my file!! Ruth
I love reading your blogs. It brings everything to life and I can almost hear the steps he takes. Wondered if you’d had a chance to read THE SECOND SON I wrote and brought to HIGHCLERE at the garden party?
It sounds like it’s never boring at Highclere. You had me in stitches!!
John’s reply to you is absolutely priceless, Lady Carnarvon. Does he wear a Fitbit?!
He does wear a fitbit or there is something on his phone. He told me one weekend he had walked 44 miles – maybe over three days – but maybe he got his readings wrong or perhaps was looking at it all upside down.
You are absolutely hilarious! I loved this blog. You really cracked me up.
I, too, love to organize desks and offices as I gather many of your readers do. It is a passion of mine. When I was first dating my husband he invited me to the bank in which he worked. When I arrived he invited me to sit down as he would be a minute before we could go to lunch. Well, I stood there for quite awhile wondering where I could gently park myself and not be in the way. Never in my life have I ever seen so many piles of papers, books, and files not only on his desk but on the floor and in the two chairs that faced his desk.
Neatness has never been his strong suit so it never occurred to him to look up for several minutes and when he finally did, he saw me still standing.
The expression on his face when he understood my dilemma was hysterical. After all these years nothing has changed!
If I worked for you I would work for free because laughter is payment enough. I would quite enjoy the challenge!
All the best,
Every so often I just have a chuck out .. of course I mainly chuck my husband’s stuff rather than mine and then find I have to go and retrieve some vital magazine from a skip..
Well l love you mail and feel it must be a great pace to work. Where there is fun and laughter it creates a great productive environment.
Wish I could work there but I am in Australia and retired
Lovely to know that you enjoy the stories here!
Thank you for sharing another day in the life at Highclerc. Always looking forward to the next one. Laughter makes the load lighter, so they say. I laughed at the person hanging out the window. This picture will make her a good memory and bring her much laughter in Yeats to come.
I think we all climb in windows – it is knowing which ones are the easier ones..
Dear Lady Carnarvan:
A day in the life of Lady Carnavan’s office crew, sounds rather fun. I read with a huge grin on my face about John’s antic, who sounds like a hoot!!. I also can’t help but think of the John Cleese’ written comedy “Fawlty Tower” except your is realty!!!
What would life be without humor? I shudder to think!!!
Thank you for sharing this installment of “The Office”. It was LOL funny!!
I think we are a mix of Fawlty Towers, Dad’s Army and Are You Being Served. Sally in the gift shop is a bit concerned that she is cast as Mrs Slocombe …
Jane and Sue from Texas, November 13, 2017
The two of us visited your beautiful home in August. What a treat. Even more beautiful than we imagined. The grounds were lovely, the tour fantastic and your gift shop was awesome. Everyone was so friendly.
What a fantastic experience. This had been on our bucket list for quite some time.
Wish we could have met you. We hoped to catch a glimpse of you riding your horse, with your dogs trailing behind.
We love your blogs, especially the one we received today. So funny.
Jane and Sue
I hope you will come back- so sorry not to be there!
So looking forward to visiting Highclere on my next trip to the UK! Thanks for sharing!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
When in doubt, climb through a window!! (It’s one way to be on time for work, but watch the alarms.) This look at Highclere was precious, and I feel for your Castle Manager John with his 44 miles of steps!! Life at Highclere is never boring as this blog post illustrates. Office Management in a castle is hardly business as usual, but that is what makes it so special. A little bit of old with the new. That is always nice to see and refreshing in today’s hectic world! Keep up the great work of managing Highclere, and have a lovely day.
Ann Catherine Flood
Thank you so much!
Thank for this wonderful very funny look behind the scenes— I always enjoy reading your stories about life at Highclere. I’m home in Dallas, TX recovering from foot surgery so while your stories are very entertaining they are also a great incentive for me to be a good patient for now and then get busy with my physical therapy in January so we can visit your lovely home.
We are planning a trip in the Spring to visit Ireland, Scotland, England and of course— Highclere Castle!
Look forward to seeing you here then!
My favorite answer is “but i know where everything is” great story !!! Thanks for the laughs!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon,
My mother has adored Highclere Castle for as long as I can remember. Would it be possible for me to send a message to your office privately? I have something I would like to discuss if that is possible.
Hope all is well,
Please email [email protected]
That was hilarious. So glad I have been to Highclere so I could better imagine it all!
Brenda in Nova Scotia, Canada
It sounds as if PBS must start a new series — “The Real Highclere Castle” — no writers necessary.
I have been so encouraged by the pleasure this blog has given – I rather worry that our humour does not always travel – but this clearly does?
Dear Lady Carnarvon
I loved this entry. I’ve read it three times now and I still laugh. I’d love to work in your office it sounds as though everyone has a great time.
I’d have to change places with Sally I’ll be Mrs Slocombe if she’d be Miss Brahms? But most importantly which character Are you?
Thank you very much!!!! I have no idea what character I am but I tiptoe into various sitcoms I think!!!
Dear Lady Carnarvon~
After many years and replays of the Downton Abbey series, I am so proud to have found your blog.
In regards to this post, I have to say that I am much like John G, in that I’m a paper collector. I don’t have to think too hard in order to visualize the paper piles…and convincing everyone “Not to worry…I know where it is.” Going “paperless” has been quite a challenge, but I can tell you from experience that it is such a relief when it happens. Technology is indeed a wonderful thing~
I appreciate your beautiful pictures the most. Thank you for letting us into your world As I’m researching my own genealogy, I’m most anxious to visit England, which of course, includes Highclere Castle.
I do not think John G will ever be paperless… separately I do hope you will come and visit us – and please do share this blog with your friends.. I am trying to figure out how to share it further!!
Such an entertaining post! The photo of the grounds in the mist is stunning…
It is ever beautiful –
Dear Lady Carnarvon, please let me assure you that your humour does travel!! I am in Rochester, New York, and study every one of your blogs. This one was particularly entertaining and funny. It was nice to see areas of the castle that are normally not seen. Thank you again.
Thank you – and thank you for reading them..
Seeing that today is November 18, it is the opening in New York City of “Downtown Abbey: the exhibition”. I see that it is sponsored by Viking, so it will be fabulous. Friends who live in New York and Boston are making plans to attend, and there may be some regal “dress-up in the era” events too. I do hope Highclere is represented in the gift shop there so friends can purchase your splendid “Entertaining at the Real Downtown Abbey”, after all, they have reconstructed the entire “kitchen” set. ‘Wondering if you will go to the “Colonies” to visit the exhibition? Let’s us know your program if you do go to the USA this year. Always a joy to read your blogs…and reread them! This one still has me laughing aloud!
You are kind and Viking have indeed helped get the book in the shop there so please do ask your friends to look for it!Viking are a great family business and one I much admire.
Thanks for the very amusing post, especially the photo of Hannah!
From the post, and everyone’s comments, it seems that it’s common to have problems with organising one’s office. That makes me feel better, as I never know which papers to keep, and I never get around to filing them…so I, too, have piles of papers!
There is always something better to do than file!
This was such a fun read!! I completely empathize with your filing issues! I feel as if I conspire against myself in the paper department! I truly enjoy reading about your Highclere family adventures! Thank you!
Thank you – I am trying to file today and do not think I can see any less paper..
Hey there! I’ve been reading your website for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Humble Tx! Just wanted to mention keep up the great work!
I am using this part of the blog , hoping you may see my comment. I love the fact that a TV series at least pays for a bit of new roofing and brings visitors (my friend in Texas visited last summer and loved it ), but I remember the days when a beautiful house was destroyed virtually every week. There are so many families who have either had to leave their homes or stagger on with leaking roofs and a lack of ‘mod cons’. I am sending this link because if you are ever in southwestern France, please visit this lovely old house. The family manage to keep it going, in spite of obvious difficulties. They are most charming and hospitable. I wish I had your talent so that I could write about the fascinating history of this ancient house and family. Your husband is so fortunate to have married a dear lady who not only loves him….but also the beautiful but unmanageable house (I will say no more, but do meet the family if you can ).
It does look interesting and old ..