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Lady Fiona Carnarvon

The Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle; Author of Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey; and The New York Times Bestseller's List, Lady Catherine, the Earl, and the Real Downton Abbey

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As the eighth and current Countess of Carnarvon reigning, the real-life setting for Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey, Lady Fiona Carnarvon was inspired to share the true story of Highclere Castle’s conversion to a hospital during WWI. From diaries, letters and photos straight out of the Edwardian era, she produced Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey.

Featured Videos

Lady Carnarvon - The Real Downton Abbey

Downton's Highclere Castle: the WW1 story

Across the Pond with Lady Fiona Carnarvon (2015)

Speaker Resources

  •  Lady Fiona  Carnarvon
  •  Lady Fiona  Carnarvon
  •  Lady Fiona  Carnarvon

Fiona, the 8th Countess of Carnarvon lives at Highclere Castle, the “Real Downton Abbey”. Over the course of the last five years it has become one of the most iconic houses in the world and Lady Carnarvon and her husband, the Earl of Carnarvon, have sought to share the stories and heritage.

At the centre of her ethos is to follow her heart, to engage with people and hope they might love Highclere whether locally, nationally or even internationally. Lady Carnarvon has looked for stories: fortunately for Highclere, the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamun and that was the first story and exhibition the current Carnarvon’s created in the cellars of the Castle.

Lady Carnarvon began her career as an author by writing the guidebook to Highclere and a guide to the Egyptian exhibition and story transporting visitors in the cellars back to Egypt. The guidebook for example has sold over 100,000 copies. Lady Carnarvon has written two historical books, Lady Almina and Lady Catherine; the first looks at the First World War when Highclere really was a hospital. The TC series represented Downton Abbey as a convalescent home and Lady Carnarvon takes the reader to Egypt where the story ends with treasure and tragedy. The second Book Lady Catherine looks at the twenties and thirties and the Second World War through the real characters upstairs and downstairs. There are fascinating comparisons with what is seen on TV through the skilful scripts of Julian Fellow, a friend of the Carnarvons, who has often stayed at Highclere with them.

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  • "British aristocracy and the real-life Lady of Downton Abbey."

  • "A historian, author and tour-de-force."