Monday, 15 September 2014

Highclere Castle



I am a huge  Downton Abbey fan, I will openly admit that and I wish Julian Fellowes would stop killing characters, but otherwise I love everything about this show.

Downton Abbey....
Why is it called an 'Abbey' (Downton)?

"Abbey" - The building or buildings occupied by a community of monks or nuns, according

Well, maybe - as many other of the great English Estate houses, Highclere is on the site of a former ecclesiastical property and when Henry VIII turned against the Catholics in the 16th century, he appropriated Catholics - lock, stock, and barrel.

Britain always leaves us awed by ancient castles, palaces, gardens and museums. History pours out a legacy of battles, a developing monarchy, a structured class system, court-inspired behaviors and fashions, artwork and writings that have created a love for all British things.

Downton Abbey: Behind the scenes of series 5

On location at Highclere Castle for the filming of Downton Abbey 

In her temporary tent outside Highclere Castle in Berkshire, Lisa Heathcote, the home economics adviser on Downton Abbey, is peeling countless quail eggs to be served at the cocktail party – a reception being thrown by Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham (Hugh Bonneville), the Lord Lieutenant of Yorkshire – that is being filmed inside the house.
Things are going well. The sun is out. Everyone is happy. And then there is a problem. The ice in the cocktail glasses is making too much noise. Is there perhaps any rubber ice that they could use instead?
Inside the Victorian castle the atmosphere is hushed. Candlelight, shimmering beads and elegant grandeur are the order of the day. Above the murmur of polite, cocktail-party conversation, a familiar booming voice announces the arrival of each new guest.
Jim Carter, aka Mr Carson the butler, is the physical embodiment of everything that its estimated global audience of 150 million viewers (100 million of them in China alone) has come to love about Downton Abbey: dignified, reassuring, and not quite knowable.
read more:


History of Highclere Castle

Early years

An Iron Age Hill Fort dominates the landscapes at Highclere and an early Anglo-Saxon charter suggests people have lived here for some 1300 years. A few maps and outlines remain from that time but records are better kept from Georgian times.

Georgian and Victorian Times

Major rebuilding works were carried out in the late 18th and early 19th centuries by the Carnarvon family and the old brick and freestone house was converted to a classical Georgian mansion within a pastoral setting. The major transformation, however, was just about to happen.
In 1838, the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon brought in Sir Charles Barry to transform his home into a grand mansion which would impress the world.
It was a time of energy and change. The young Queen Victoria had just come to the throne, and the whole decade witnessed innovation in politics and cultural life.
The new “Highclere Castle” dominated its surroundings in a most dramatic way. No wonder Benjamin Disraeli's first words on seeing Highclere were "How scenical! How scenical!".
The structural work on the interior of the Castle was finally completed in 1878. Once built, the Castle became a centre of political life during the late Victorian era.

The 20th Century

Howard Carter and Lord CarnarvonIn many ways Highclere Castle epitomised the confidence and glamour of the Edwardian period in the first few years of the twentieth century. Visitor books record the house parties full of politicians, technological innovators, Egyptologists, aviators and soldiers.
During the First World War, Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, transformed the Castle into a hospital, and patients began to arrive from Flanders in September 1914. She became an adept nurse and a skilled healer and hundreds of letters from patients and their families bear testament to her untiring work and spirit of generosity.
The Castle returned to a private home and in 1922 the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun, the first global world media event.
Following the death of the 5th Earl, his son, who then became the 6th Earl, returned to Highclere where he lived until 1986. During the Second World War, the Castle briefly became a home for evacuee children from north London.
The current (8th) Earl and Countess of Carnarvon live partly in the Castle and partly nearby but remain closely involved in the Castle's day to day life and future.



Debt, dalliances and the real Downton; the dramatic history of her Highclere ancestors, revealed by current chatelaine Lady Carnarvon










The Mummy's Curse

A terrific, tremendous, astonishing house and estate, with precious family memorabilia.
The Egyptian display is a national treasure even if there are mainly copies as were the other unique items about Howard Carter and Lord Carnarvon at the time of the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun.

George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, was born in his family home, Highclere Castle.
Lord Carnarvon was keen of motoring and in 1901 while in Germany, he suffered an automobile accident. While saved from death, he was left appallingly weak, a condition that would make him increasingly vulnerable to the cold and damp of the English climate. He began to winter abroad, visiting Egypt for the first time in 1903.

Cairo seemed perfectly suited to his delicate health and he took up Egyptology as a hobby to help him pass away the winter days.

Lord Carnarvon's enthusiasm for Egyptology, though this initial experience at excavation did convince him that more expertise was needed, he met a young Howard Carter, who apparently needed a financier for his work.

Carnarvon wrote: "I thought I would have two strings as I am not sure I will get my wife to stay another whole 2 months at Luxor" and later he added, "If I get what I want I shall bring out a learned man as I have not time to learn up all the requisite data".

Carter, under Lord Carnarvon's sponsorship, unearthed a whole series of important private tombs dating from the end of the Middle Kingdom to the beginning of the New Kingdom, as well as two "lost" temples of Queen Hatshepsut and Ramesses IV.

Carnarvon was stranded in Egypt during World War I and Carter's own energies were diverted more and more with the war effort as a diplomatic courier. However, by 1917, Carter was able to start work in the Valley of the Kings in earnest, with a focus on finding the elusive tomb of Tutankhamun and on November 4th,1922 he discovered the top of a sunken staircase and he ordered the stairway to be refilled and the next day wrote the now famous telegram to Carnarvon who was still in England.

Carnarvon made it to Egypt with his daughter, Lady Evelyn Herbert, about two weeks later and work began in earnest on the tomb on November 24th. After the stairway was completely cleared and the full expanse of the plastered doorway could be seen, it was clear that Carter had indeed discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun.

Carter reported:

"At first I could see nothing, the hot air escaping from the chamber causing the candle flame to flicker, but presently, as my eyes grew accustomed to the light, details of the room within emerged slowly from the mist, strange animals, statues, and gold - everywhere the glint of gold".

Unfortunately, Lord Carnarvon would not live long enough to enjoy much of his success. Following the official opening of the tomb's burial chamber and all of the excitement that surrounded it, Lord Carnarvon contracted pneumonia and died.

Lord Carnarvon left behind the mummy's curse. Several weeks before Lord Carnarvon's death, popular attention was focused on a warning by novelist Marie Corelli that "the most dire punishment follows any rash intruder into a sealed tomb." Of course, this warning would not have garnished attention for long had it not been for Lord Carnarvon's death. The public chose to ignore the fact that Lord Carnarvon was not in good health, and that indeed his annual pilgrimage to Egypt was primarily for this reason. About this time, a number of other people who, though sometimes distantly could be identified with the tomb also died, rumors became rife. In reality, most of those who were closest to the excavation lived out long, often rewarding lives, but of course, the curse continues to inspire movie magic even now.