At Home At Highclere: Entertaining At The Real Downton Abbey by The Countess of Carnarvon
Lady Carnarvon's love of history is richly rewarded at Highclere Castle with its mine of family records going back some 300 years. She has delved into the archives to create a book that invites you inside the Castle, past and present. Throughout the centuries, Highclere has welcomed Royalty, Statesmen, Egyptologists and pioneers of technology along with men and women from the worlds of music, art and letters.
The etiquette of the invitation, the balance of guests at a weekend house party, their 'placement' at dinners, and the entertainment of friends, as well as the domestic management required to execute the perfect occasion, have all preoccupied successive generations of chatelaines. This book tells the story four real life weekends - from 1866 to 1936 - when the great and the good gathered at Highclere to change the world in some large or small part. It then reflects on how the current Countess entertains 'At Home' at Highclere today.
Each weekend showcases the life of the house, both upstairs with the rich and famous and below stairs with the staff and employees. You are transported to a world where guests were collected from the long since defunct Highclere Station in carriages or later in the earliest cars having had the train stop specifically for them and where the allocation of the most prestigious bedrooms really did matter. It looks at what should be served for dinner, the hot topics of conversation and gossip, traditional breakfasts and shooting parties with the Prince of Wales.
She explores how menus were, and still are now, put together with the chef, what were the de rigueur cocktails of the day (and why) - and how to make them at home wherever you are. Each chapter will explore some of the recipes and, where practical, have adaptations and photos of the recipes which can be cooked in today's kitchens. Many recipes are little-changed to this day and Lady Carnarvon shares her commentary on their context at Highclere.
'Highclere works hard to steer a steady course in today's world, but the Castle was built for entertainment and pleasure, for convivial weekends. I hope this book gives a glimpse inside a great house, with mouth-watering recipes, eye-catching photographs and fascinating stories about some of the remarkable people who have stayed here.' Lady Carnarvon