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

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle - Fiona,  Countess of Carnarvon 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.