Highclere castle has become iconic in it’s own right. Not just because it is the real castle where the fictional Downton Abbey is set, but also because is the home of Lord and Lady Carnavan. In the 1920’s, the 5th Lord Carnavon teamed up with Howard Carter to locate and excavate King Tutankhamun’s tomb.
Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey , written by Lady Fiona Carnavon, is the non fiction story of her husband’s great-grandmother, Lady Almina, 5th Countess of Carnavon. Like her fictional counterpart, Lady Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), Almina is the illegitimate daughter of the wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild and his married mistress, Marie Wombwell. Almina is 19 when she marries; she brings to her husband a fortune that will save his family and his home. They will eventually have two children. During WWI, Almina opens her home the soldiers returning from the front.
I found this book to be fascinating. While Downton Abbey fans know the fictional Crawley family and their servants, the story of the real life Highclere castle and the Carnavon family is just as impressive a story.
I recommend this book.
I am Downton Abbey Addict. There, I said it. My addiction has started to move beyond the television series to the real and fascinating history behind the television series.
Highclere Castle’s current mistress, Fiona, Countess of Carnavon, has written two books on the history of her home and her husband’s family. The first novel, published in 2011, Lady Almina And the Real Downton Abbey, The Lost Legacy Of Highclere Castle, focused on her husband’s paternal great grandmother. Her 2013 novel, Lady Catherine, The Earl And Real Downton Abbey focuses on her husband’s paternal grandmother, Catherine, Countess of Carnarvan.
Like her fictional counterpart, Cora, Countess of Grantham (Elizabeth McGovern), Catherine is an American heiress who marries Lord Porchester, son and heir to George, 5th Earl Of Carnavan. Lord Carnavan was part of the expedition that initially discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen. Her life is fascinating. She was born in 1900 and died in 1978. She lived through two world wars, became a member of the British aristocracy through her marriage and watched the world change around her.
I enjoyed this book. I enjoyed it because I enjoyed reading about the real history and the real people that are part of the history of Highclere castle. Reading the book bring a real, historical perspective to fictional Downton Abbey and the characters that inhabit that world.
I recommend this book.