Meet the Countess of Carnarvon. If you’re a Downton Abbey fan, you might like the book I just read: Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.
The BBC series Downton Abbey was filmed at Highclere in Hampshire, England.
Written by Lady Fiona Carnarvon, this historical piece tells the true tale of the residents of Highclere Castle at the turn of the 20th century.
An entertaining account of noble life, Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey depicts the whirlwind scene of a great country house at its zenith, which was only possible by the labors of those below stairs. Unlike in Downton Abbey, footmen at Highclere actually had to powder their hair until 1918!
Follow Lady Almina as she marries the 5th Earl of Carnarvon, travels to Egypt, and nurses the wounded heroes of the Great War. Describing a dizzying social web of prominent names and events, not everyone would be fascinated with this type of nonfiction, but the book is worthwhile for anyone interested in that changing era.
George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Almina’s husband, joined Howard Carter in the unearthing of the tomb of Tutankhamun.
I really don’t watch television, but I was on a long plane ride and came across several episodes of the History Channel’s Ancient Aliens. I don’t know what season it was, but they often mentioned Egypt. The narrator described theories regarding the elongated skulls often depicted in ancient paintings, and the possibility of these being alien life forms. It felt a bit like an Indiana Jones movie.
Upon the Valley of the Kings discovery by Carnarvon and Carter in 1922, “experts would spend much time assessing the shape of Tutankhamun’s head, because there seemed to be a congenital domed shape to his skull.” This sounded the same as the Ancient Aliens theory. Lady Carnarvon goes on to write that the most likely cause was “carelessness in carrying out the mummification procedure” — so much for friends from a galaxy far away.
I have not read the next Highclere book, about Lady Catherine, but I’m eager to find out more about it.