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British Council and Emirates Airline Festival of Literature host inspiring talk by Countess of Carnarvon about the ‘real Downton Abbey’

Posted on 15 December 2013 by Alice

DUBAI, December 12: An insight into the ‘real Downton Abbey’ was revealed today with an entertaining talk by the eighth Countess of Carnarvon, Lady Fiona Carnarvon, about the family seat, Highclere castle, which is also the location for the hit TV series. Lady Fiona also spoke of the real-life stories that have inspired the show, which she recounts in her latest book ‘Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey’. The event, organized by British Council in association with the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature, was followed by a book-signing session.

‘Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey’ is a sequel to the acclaimed “Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey”, both published by Hodder and Stoughton. The book tells of the beautiful American heiress who became the countess following her marriage to the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, who famously discovered the Tomb of the Egyptian Boy Pharaoh, Tutankhamun, in 1922 with his archaeological colleague, Howard Carter.

Lady Carnarvon regaled the audience with this and other amazing stories about Highclere Castle, widely considered one of the most beautiful Victorian castles.

The castle stands within 1000 acres of grassland and has been with the Carnarvon family since 1679. A great deal of history has been recorded within its walls.

Highclere castle has also played a significant part in aiding soldiers during the two World Wars, first as a hospital in Lady Almina’s time and then as an American airbase for several hundred soldiers while Lady Catherine was Countess.

Recently, Highclere Castle has become more recognisable due to the popularity of the ITV television show ‘Downton Abbey’, starring Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville and a host of well-known names from the British film and television. The show is written by Academy Award-winner Julian Fellowes and follows the lives of the Crawely family and the servants who work for them.

Lady Carnarvon was a fount of information about Highclere castle’s involvement in the show and the historical basis behind the various events in the Crawely

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family’s lives.

The talk was held as part of a series of literary events that the LitFest organises through the year, in addition to the Festival itself.

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