Teatime with Lady Carnarvon at Highclere Castle - the Real Downton Abbey!
By Ellen Easton ©2013 - All Rights Reserved
Photos Courtesy of Highclere Castle - 2013© Highclere Castle Enterprises LLP 2013 - All Rights Reserved.Any unauthorized use of the images will be deemed as breach of Copyright and may incur court action and or will be charged at our current rate.
Highclere Castle is best known to US audiences as Downton Abbey. As you will read, similarities between the fictional and real people who resided at the castle abound.
"The Souvenir Guide Book tells the story of the Highclere Estate from Iron Age times to the present day. Originally owned by the Bishops of Winchester, the site has had occupied dwellings for 1,300 years. It passed into the Carnarvon family in 1679. A medieval 'Elizabethan Placehouse' gave way to a 'Georgian Mansion' and on to the Victorian 'Highclere Castle', commissioned by the 3rd Earl of Carnarvon from Sir Charles Barry, pre-eminent Victorian architect of his day, who built the Houses of Parliament at the same time as constructing the Castle
Almina, 5th Countess of Carnarvon, converted the castle to a military hospital during the Great War of 1914-1918. George, 5th Earl of Carnarvon, found the Tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt with his archaeological partner, Howard Carter, in 1922. The cellars of the Castle have been converted into a magnificent Egyptian Exhibition to celebrate what was described, at the time, as the most important archaeological discovery of all time.”
As I have a family link toHighclere Castle through my great grandmother’s relation to Almina, 5th Countess of Carnarvon, I thought it would be interesting to explore the tea traditions with the current and 8th Countess, Lady Carnarvon.
EE: Lady Carnarvon with the long and illustrious list of those who have lived at Highclere Castle, what is it that peeked your interest in Almina, 5th Countess of Carnarvon, to write your best selling book, “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey”?
EE: Afternoon tea was at the height of popularity in the Victorian 1890s. So much so, that while waiting on the arrival of his Lordship with his new bride, Almina, to honeymoon at Highclere, a tea party had been given on the grounds to entertain 330 of the local towns children. On the momentous visit of HRH, The Prince of Wales, later Edward Vll, to Highclere Castle in December 1895, is there any record of afternoon tea being served during the three-day visit?
EE. Afternoon tea quickly transformed into many variations, the casual tea for family and friends in private quarters, the self-served buffet tea for those guesting on weekend visits, gathering in the drawing room for after shooting parties and more formal reception teas.
EE: Almina was a woman ahead of her time as she was not only the Patroness of the hospital she established at Highclere, she took quite a hands-on approach to participating with the patients. Did the tradition of teatime survive during the era of World War One when Highclere was turned into a hospital? Please describe some of the notable teas, both formal and casual that have been served at Highclere Castle both past and present day.
EE: How many selections are offered? What tea blends are served?
EE: What types of foods are served on the tea menu?
EE: Have the Highclere Castle teatime traditions remained intact or have they changed to accommodate modern schedules?
EE: There is a HIGHCLERE CASTLE LADY CARNARVON AFTERNOON TEA BLEND sold in the gift shop offerings. How did you decide to choose this particular tea to be the signature blend at Highclere Castle?
EE: Highclere Castle is now available to hire for private and corporate functions. What room do you feel lends itself best for an afternoon tea party?
EE: When one visits Highclere Castle is afternoon tea available to the public on tour?
Lady Fiona Carnarvon – the 8th Countess, now tells the remarkable story behind the real Downton Abbey. It is a story that is even more fascinating than the fiction.
To visit Highclere Castle or purchase books and merchandise, Check out Highclere Information.
Ellen Easton is a lifestyle industry leader, tea and etiquette authority, author of Afternoon Tea~ Tips, Terms and Traditions, A Tea Party Planner and Tea Travels™ For The Holidays (RED WAGON PRESS), as well as a hospitality, design and retail consultant, whose clients have included The Waldorf=Astoria, The Plaza, and Lady Mendl’s Tea Salon.
Easton’s family traces their tea roots to the early 1800s, when ancestors first introduced tea plants from India and China to the Colony of Ceylon, thus building one of the largest and best cultivated teas estates on the island.
Contact: RED WAGON PRESS at 1- 212- 722-7981.