Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by Fiona CarnarvonHighclere Castle has a new resident, the daughter-in-law of Lady Almina, an American beauty from New York and a descendant of famous American families.
Catherine Wendell first met Lord Porchester (Porchey), son of Lady Almina, the heir to Highclere and 6th Earl of Carnarvon, in Gibraltar. At just 19 and utterly entrancing, she had already received many proposals of marriage and immediately caught 24-year-old Porcheys discerning eye.
They married in 1922, and after the unexpected death of Alminas husband, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, they moved into Highclere Castle. Beset by death duties and money problems, the Earl and Countess were unsure they could keep Highclere. Thanks to the sale of the decade at Christies Auction House, hundreds of cherished paintings went under the hammer, from a Leonardo da Vinci to works by Reynolds, Gainsborough, and Romney. Porchey even sold the famous family pearls. By 1926 Catherine and Porchey knew they could stay.
Over the next few years, the young couple entertained at Highclere, sharing it with other royalty and friends from London society. Catherine was much loved by the staff and adored by her husband and two young children. Although Almina still occasionally came to stay, Catherines own American mother, Mrs. Jacob Wendell, was the most regular visitor.
By 1936, Catherine and Porcheys marriage had become increasingly troubled. Devastated, Catherine bravely unraveled her marriage. Porchey hastily traveled to New York to marry his new lover, who, however, ran off the night before the wedding with a Hollywood mogul.
Now in London with her children, Catherine fell in love with a handsome and charming man, whom she married in 1938. Porchey continued at Highclere, having to find new staff (the old staff accompanied Catherine to London) and marrying the famous Austrian actress Tilly Losch on the day war broke out in 1939. Catherines husband joined the navy while Porcheys new wife quickly left for America.
Highclere Castle was turned into a home for evacuee children as well as lodging for soldiers. Porchey joined the war effort as an army adjutant (later a liaison officer) and was commended by the Americans stationed near Highclere. Catherine and Porcheys son Henry also joined the war in 1943. Like other wives and mothers, Catherine endured the unbearable stress of waiting for news of two beloved people in her life.
Using copious materials - including diaries and scrapbooks - from the castles archive, the Countess of Carnarvon brings alive a very modern story in a beautiful and famous setting, paying particular attention not just to the goings on upstairs, but also to the butler footmen and other staff whose lives downstairs kept the Castle moving forward into the twentieth century.
High Stakes At Highclere (British Aristocracy Documentary) - Timeline
With the Downton Abbey movie opening on September 20 today! In August, I caught up with the Countess of Carnarvon, who along with her husband George, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, are the full-time residents of the iconic castle that also happens to be the most recognizable house on earth.
George Herbert, 8th Earl of Carnarvon
The Colonna family , also known as Sciarrillo or Sciarra, is an Italian papal noble family. It was powerful in medieval and Renaissance Rome , supplying one Pope Martin V and many other church and political leaders. The family is notable for its bitter feud with the Orsini family over influence in Rome, until it was stopped by Papal Bull in In , the heads of both families married nieces of Pope Sixtus V. Thereafter, historians recorded that "no peace had been concluded between the princes of Christendom , in which they had not been included by name".
Lord Carnarvon was the first man to open the tomb of Tutankhamun - and was dead five months later. As Lord Carnarvon drew his last breath in Cairo, it is said the lights went out across the city and, 3, miles away at his English country house, his faithful Jack Russell let out a bloodcurdling howl before dropping dead. For many, the eerie circumstances of his death proved he was the first victim of the Curse of Tutankhamun , the boy pharaoh whose tomb he had dared to open five months earlier in But the house could have been bulldozed long before it became the centrepiece of the ITV classic — and all because of that curse. So I just tread carefully.
Mary Berry Visits Downton Abbey's Highclere Castle - Mary Berry's Country House Secrets
However, her biological father was the banker Alfred de Rothschild , of the Rothschild family , who left her considerable wealth. The couple had two children: . At the beginning of the First World War , Lady Carnarvon opened a hospital for war wounded at Highclere Castle , helping with the organisation and assisting as a nurse. In , Lady Carnarvon turned down the opportunity of being appointed a Commander of the Order of the British Empire for her war work. The Earl of Carnarvon developed an interest in Egyptology and became the financial backer of the search for Tutankhamun's tomb in the Valley of the Kings , Egypt , assisted by Almina's wealth. In November , her husband and daughter were present with the archaeologist Howard Carter at the opening of the tomb. In March , Lady Carnarvon travelled to Egypt to join her husband, who had developed pneumonia.