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Downton Abbey’s real countess, Lady Carnarvon, charms Houstonians

Lady Fiona Carnarvon

Downton Abbey’s days are numbered, but life at Highclere Castlecontinues.

News surfaced this week that the upcoming season for the popular PBS series will be the last. But the mistress of the castle where the beloved series is set says that public tours are sold out for the next two years and a whole host of activities are planned to satisfy the cravings of fans.

Lady Fiona Carnarvon recently hopped over the pond for her first visit to Houston, where she regaled more than 300 guests at a Highclere Tea at the St. Regis Hotel with stories of the castle’s fabled history. Speaking without notes for more than an hour, the Countess of Carnarvon traced the lineage of her husband’s family — she’s the wife of George Herbert, the 8th Earl of Carnarvon  — and the glorious history of the estate where the series is filmed.

Lynn Wyatt hosted the tea, which raised more than $100,000 for the Houston Public Media Foundation.

She also easily mingled with guests, many dressed in hats and pearls, during the tea, which featured smoked salmon with caper egg salad finger sandwiches, cucumber-watercress tea sandwiches with Boursin cheese, scones and Devonshire cream, along with several varieties of tea and flutes of bubbly Processco. Lynn Wyatt hosted the tea, which raised more than $100,000 for the Houston Public Media Foundation.

Seen in the crowd: Houston Public Media executive director and general manager Lisa Shumate, Carol and Mike Linn, Phoebe Tudor, Anne Mendelsohn, Linda McReynolds, Rose Cullen, Bill Stubbs, Greggory Burk, Robin Angley, Debra Nash, Denise Taylor, Ernie Manouse, host of the popular locally-produced show, Manor of Speaking, that comes on right after each episode of Downton Abbey, and the show’s regular guests Helen Mann and St. John Flynn.

Neiman Marcus general manager Bob Devlin received kudos, along with the store’s Liz Zaruba, Kathy Kates, Bruno Brady and Stacey Swift, for underwriting the event.

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