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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The…
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Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere…

by The Countess of Carnarvon

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7974911,505 (3.49)56
  1. 30
    Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon (Taphophile13)
    Taphophile13: Almina Wombwell and Catherine Wendell both married into the Herbert family and each in turn became Countess of Carnarvon and mistress of Highclere Castle.
  2. 10
    Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants by Alison Maloney (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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This was the January book club selection for our neighborhood book group. With the start of the new Downton Abbey season I thought it would be fun to learn a little history of the famed location and the real owners.

Lady Almina is the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, she was the illegitimate daughter of Alfred de Rothschild. He never married Almina's mother, but he doted on Almina. She had quite an allowance from her father. Her dowry provided what was needed to keep Highclere and Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home going for generations.

She did open the doors of the Castle during WWI to the care for the wounded. She helped to establish a similar hospital in London to take the strain off of the staff of Highclere.

Even though she lived within a society that it was important not to do the "wrong thing," it did not stop ALmina from doing what she thought was the right thing. It did help to have the connections and a wealthy father to whom she could count on to make the right introductions. Highclere was not short on important visitors the Prince of Wales and future King was a guest a number of times to the Estate.

The descriptions of the Great War and the sacrifices of those in every social set where great. Many families lost all their sons with no one to carry the family name forward. Highclere was not with-out sacrifice.

I was not aware that the Earl of Carnarvon was responsible for funding Howard Carter's excavations in Egypt which led to the finding of King Tut's Tomb.

Well worth the read and I plan on checking out the next book about Lady Catherine, who married Lady Almina's son Porchy.


( )
  yvonne.sevignykaiser | Apr 2, 2016 |
After watching every episode of Downton Abbey and seeing one special about Highclere Castle, I thought this book would give me an additional glimpse of a world that is quite foreign to me. Written by the current Countess Carnarvon, this book was all I had hoped it would be. I enjoyed reading about those who had lived in this stately home and how their lives were. Inevitably, I found myself comparing it to the show, finding more similarities than I had expected to find. There was a lot of history that at times I felt distracted from the purpose of the book, but it didn't hurt to be reminded of world history from an English perspective and to help me understand how these events affected the English people. If you are interested in reading of stately English manor homes, this is a good resource. ( )
  hobbitprincess | Mar 12, 2016 |
It's an interesting book if you want some insight into what it was like to be fabulously rich in the early 20th century. It was more about Lady Almina than Highclere, the house used as Downton Abbey in the television program but that was okay because she was an interesting woman. ( )
  Oodles | Feb 16, 2016 |
With Lady Almina's presence, the doors of Highclere Castle are opened to tend the wounded of WW1.

"The story is described as an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle."

7 audio discs ( )
  pennsylady | Jan 27, 2016 |
As always, I find it difficult to separate the subject of biographies and the writing. I would say that the writing, in this case was "okay," but that on the other hand, the subject, in the guise of Almina, to not be very attractive and in the guise of the castle itself, to not be very forthcoming. There was little in the way of comparing Downton Abby with Highclere, which seemed unfortunate, nor were comparisons made between the denizens of the occupants of the two castles. Still, it was an interesting time and I am prompted to read more about the discovery of King Tut's tomb. ( )
  kaulsu | Dec 7, 2015 |
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For my husband and son, who I adore, and my beloved sisters
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On Wednesday 26 June 1895, Miss Almina Victoria Marie Alexandra Wombwell, a startlingly pretty nineteen-year-old of somewhat dubious social standing, married George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, at St Margaret's, Westminster.
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Book description
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration for the hit PBS show Downton Abbey, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon and the basis of the fictional character Lady Cora Crawley. Drawing on a rich store of materials from the archives of Highclere Castle, including diaries, letters, and photographs, the current Lady Carnarvon has written a transporting story of this fabled home on the brink of war.


Much like her Masterpiece Classic counterpart, Lady Almina was the daughter of a wealthy industrialist, Alfred de Rothschild, who married his daughter off at a young age, her dowry serving as the crucial link in the effort to preserve the Earl of Carnarvon's ancestral home. Throwing open the doors of Highclere Castle to tend to the wounded of World War I, Lady Almina distinguished herself as a brave and remarkable woman.


This rich tale contrasts the splendor of Edwardian life in a great house against the backdrop of the First World War and offers an inspiring and revealing picture of the woman at the center of the history of Highclere Castle.

[retrieved 9/27/2012 from Amazon.com]
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Tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS show, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

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Tantor Media

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