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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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Recently added bycarrielyn825, emilyesears, richorlin, lingwer, joyceBl, private library, AimLiss, dkathman, INorris
  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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» See also 56 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 52 (next | show all)
Like many people, I adore the television show, Downton Abbey. I watch very little television and we don't have cable or satellite, but Downton Abbey is one of 4 shows I will make time for. (The others are Doctor Who, Castle and Bones.) The grandeur and lifestyle of the time is fascinating and so very foreign to me. I have loved that the show is inspired by real life people and a real life castle, so reading a biography by the current Countess of Carnarvon sounded great.

The book is rather austere and very much a biography. It's fascinating in some places and dry in others. I wished for more detail about the staff and running of Highclere. I wished for more detail about Almina, because once the Earl dies, there is little more said about her, even though she was only in her late 40s and internet searches say that she lived to be 92.

Still, we get a glimpse into life in a great house and it is very easy to see similarities between the real family at Highclere Castle and the television family of Downton Abbey. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
Like many people, I adore the television show, Downton Abbey. I watch very little television and we don't have cable or satellite, but Downton Abbey is one of 4 shows I will make time for. (The others are Doctor Who, Castle and Bones.) The grandeur and lifestyle of the time is fascinating and so very foreign to me. I have loved that the show is inspired by real life people and a real life castle, so reading a biography by the current Countess of Carnarvon sounded great.

The book is rather austere and very much a biography. It's fascinating in some places and dry in others. I wished for more detail about the staff and running of Highclere. I wished for more detail about Almina, because once the Earl dies, there is little more said about her, even though she was only in her late 40s and internet searches say that she lived to be 92.

Still, we get a glimpse into life in a great house and it is very easy to see similarities between the real family at Highclere Castle and the television family of Downton Abbey. ( )
  2kidsandtired | Aug 2, 2016 |
Interesting reading for any Downton Abbey fan. I enjoyed reading about the real story taking place during World War II. ( )
  brangwinn | Jul 30, 2016 |
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 |
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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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