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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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6744214,200 (3.49)52
  1. 20
    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. 00
    Life Below Stairs: True Lives of Edwardian Servants by Alison Maloney (BookshelfMonstrosity)
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Light and fluffy account of the life of the 5th Countess of Carnarvon with really very little to do with Downtown Abbey except the filming location. The account becomes far less light as WWI approaches and Lady Almina becomes a very devoted and impressive nurse and hospital administrator. Overall, it's somewhat scattershot; partly name dropping and then gruesome accounts of the war. It was an interesting read but not particularly well written and does peter off at the end.
  amyem58 | Jul 19, 2015 |
Having recently become a fan of the television series Downton Abbey I was curious to find out a little more about the “real” Downton Abbey. This book satisfied my curiosity but only to a certain extent. For me, it started off well but then went into a little too much detail (for my taste) in describing WW1 and its impact. I understand the importance from an historical point of view and the personal impact on Lady Almina, but I was looking for something a little more “gossipy”. I was also looking for a little more information about the upstairs life vs. the downstairs life at Highclere.

Lady Fiona is the current Countess of Highclere and the great-granddaughter-in-law of Lady Almina, so she had unfettered access to the archives of Highclere Castle as source material for this book and frequently quotes letters and diaries. I did enjoy hearing the names of real people in and around Highclere, names that I also recognized from the television series, albeit sometimes in a different role than their real life counterparts. I can certainly see where the inspiration for the series came from.

Although this book is not quite what I was expecting when I picked it up it was still a very interesting, well-written and entertaining read. I knew about Lord Carnarvon’s involvement in the discovery of King Tut’s tomb, but reading about the account in this book was an added plus.
( )
  ChristineEllei | Jul 14, 2015 |
The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle. ( )
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  Tutter | Feb 20, 2015 |
I'm not one to read history books, but with "Downtown Abbey" on the cover and someone with an English accent to read it to me (I got it on audio,) I couldn't resist. It was interesting although some of the workings of a manor house I already knew about from a PBS show about the background of Downtown Abbey. I didn't know about the Carnavons and the discovery of King Tut and found that fascinating. ( )
  eliorajoy | Feb 16, 2015 |
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 |
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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

An edition of this book was published by Tantor Media.

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