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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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    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.
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Showing 1-5 of 38 (next | show all)
This book is broken up more or less into three parts. The first is a general description of the running of the castle at the turn of the 20th century, which I found fascinating. The second part is about Lady Almina turning the castle into a soldiers' hospital during World War I, which I found to be rather dry because it spent so much time on troop movements. There are plenty of other books on that subject; I did not pick up this book because I wanted to read about the war in Europe. The third section was about the Earl of Carnarvon's role in the discovery of King Tut's tomb. This was interesting, but of course since it focused mostly on the Carnarvon family, it didn't have quite the draw. That said, there are plenty of books on Howard Carter's expedition, and I am glad this book did not try to duplicate them. All in all, it was a neat look into a lifestyle completely different from my own. After all, Highclere Castle (the filming location of Downton Abbey) is an institution; as the book mentions repeatedly, the family living there is transitory, while the house endures. ( )
  melydia | Jan 12, 2015 |
I highly recommend this book. That time period of just before World War I, during the war and afterward with Lord Carnarvon's discovery of King Tut's tomb in Egypt are fascinating. The writer is the 8th and current Countess of Carnarvon and Almina was the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Almina and her husband had a love story, and as the only and illegitimate child of the immensely rich Alfred de Rothschild, she helped Highclere Castle be solvent. She also volunteered Highclere as a hospital for wounded soldiers during WWI and was a very involved nurse and hospital administrator,offering the soldiers excellent care. Her father spent a fortune supporting the hospital. Lots of photos included. ( )
  hangen | Oct 22, 2014 |
Oof, what a disappointment. As a fan of Downton Abbey and English history in general, I was very excited to find this book. I was expecting much more than meandering anecdotes of the wealthy residents of Highclere in WWI. There was little to nothing about servant life, and really the book could have been about any English estate. Actually ended up abandoning this one only half way through.

When it comes to writing, I don't think the Countess should quit her day job. ( )
  Tess_Elizabeth | Oct 17, 2014 |
Almost everyone has become familiar with the immensely popular PBS drama series Downton Abbey. The series is inspired by an actual estate called Highclere Castle. This book is a nonfiction account of Highclere and the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, who married into the family and became Highclere's mistress in 1895. The story doesn't really focus on life at Highclere, but rather on the era in which Almina lived. That includes WWI and the discovery of King Tut's tomb in which Lord Carnarvon partnered with Howard Carter. I wasn't sure I would like the book when it was given to me but I did very much. ( )
  clue | Jul 9, 2014 |
As I've never seen Downton Abbey, but I do love history, so I chose to read this book instead. I have always found the stories of the real people who inspired the characters to be much more fascinating.

Almina was an incredible lady, of incredible privilege in her life, but with a vision & a passion for nursing, & she was at the cutting edge of her field, insisting in strict hygiene, employing the best physicians, & the best of the new technologies & breakthroughs in the fields of post operative & trauma medicine. Yet she also believed that the patient's mental health was every bit as important as their physical well being.

She was overshadowed by her husband's triumph of his partnership with Howard Carter & their headline topping discovery of King Tut's tomb, which still fascinates people today.

The fact that there are photos & drawing & snippets of letters in several places in the book bring the history to life as well. I am very thankful that this Countess wrote this book & shared her family's history with the rest of us.

This is my first 5 star review of the year. I am looking forward to reading any of the other books she has written ( )
  Lisa.Johnson.James | Apr 10, 2014 |
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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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