Lady Carnarvon and George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon are the owners of Highclere Castle. Lady Carnarvon is here in my blog, I was looking for this interview some time ago. They said yes at first time, I was happy. In her castle takes life Downton Abbey the famous serie of Netflix.
--Please, Lady Carnarvon let me know the history of this Castle.
The history of ancestors living at Highclere can be traced back to 749AD. Later records reveal a medieval palace built during the twelfth and thirteenth century which was later succeeded by a much admired red brick Tudor house. In 1838, the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon brought in Sir Charles Barry (also the Architect of the Houses of Parliament in London) to transform his home into a grand mansion. This ‘new’ Highclere Castle dominated its surroundings in a most dramatic way. The structural work on the interior of the Castle was finally completed in 1878. The Castle became a centre of political life during the late Victorian era and it remains one of the most famous and photographed Castles in England.
--Highclere Castle was a hospital in the War? This part from TV show was real.
That is correct. Lady Almina was married to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon. She turned Highclere Castle into a hospital and convalescent home for soldiers coming back from the trenches of the First World War (1914-18). In the archives we have many letters from the mothers, wives and sisters of the soldiers who express their gratitude to Lady Almina for the care and quality of nursing she offered to their wounded loved ones.
--Gardens are beautiful and unique. How many people take care of it?
My husband and I are very involved in the designing and planting of the gardens – it is our passion and a great source of relaxation in our busy lives. We have extended the gardens during the last 10 years and have planted many new borders as well as an arboretum. We are assisted in our endeavours by head gardener Paul and his two assistants.
--Downton Abbey the TV show, gave to the castle a big fame in many countries. You have many visitors.
We do indeed. Highclere Castle has always been an important location in terms of British history and politics, but I think that Downton Abbey has certainly helped to bring the beauty of the Castle and grounds to an international audience. We are open to the public during the summer months and it is lovely to see so many visitors coming from overseas, especially from Argentina.
--A man from your family discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb. The fifth Earl of Carnarvon. Can you tell me more about it?
The 5th Earl of Carnarvon was an enthusiastic amateur Egyptologist. In 1914 he began to dig in the Valley of the Kings and he and Howard Carter together opened the tomb of Tutankhamun exposing treasures unsurpassed in the history of archaeology. Lord Carnarvon also purchased Egyptian artefacts and created one of the most extraordinary Egyptian collections. Over the years the artefacts were all tucked away in cupboards in Highclere Castle until re-discovered by our family in 1987. Now our Antiquities Room is illustrated so visitors can observe the jewellery, the faces and figures, the beautifully crafted jars and even the coffin of a noble woman from 3,500 years ago.
--Lady Carnarvon, have you written a new book?
I have just written “At Home at Highclere: Entertaining at The Real Downton Abbey” Over the years Highclere Castle has welcomed Royalty, Statesmen, explorers and pioneers along with men and women from the worlds of music, art and letters. This book tells the story four real life weekends - from 1866 to 1936 - when the great and the good gathered at Highclere to change the world in some large or small part. It also explains how my husband and I enjoy entertaining guests "At Home" at Highclere Castle today. Highclere Castle was built for entertainment and pleasure, for convivial weekends. I hope this book gives a glimpse inside a great house, with mouth-watering recipes, eye-catching photographs and fascinating stories about some of the remarkable people who have stayed here.
--Do you live at Highclere Castle the rest of the year when it is closed for visitors?
We do live at Highclere - sometimes staying in the Castle for some days or perhaps not if there is a wedding. Our other house is only 30 metres away so there are not really strict rules!
Lord & Lady Carnarvon
Lady Carnarvon and dogs
The Dining room
Highclere front cover-image
If you like to read much more about this castle go to:
Thanks to Lady Carnarvon for her time answering my questions. I say the same to Justine Grace, the Press and media consultant for her help with pictures.