Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey

The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle

Carnarvon, Fiona

eBook - 2011
Average Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5.
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey
Tells the story behind Highclere Castle, the real-life inspiration and setting for Julian Fellowes's Emmy Award-winning PBS show, and the life of one of its most famous inhabitants, Lady Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon.

Publisher: New York : Broadway Paperbacks, c2011.
Edition: 1st U.S. ed.
ISBN: 9780770435639
Characteristics: 1 online resource (233 p.) :,ill.


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Jan 23, 2015
  • LauraSteinert rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

More suitable for social historians than DA fans. Yes, it is the same building, but the book's focus is WWI and name dropping. The book reads as if the current Countess has looked at the guest books, the household accounts, a few letters, and the surviving journals, then made up a plausible story from them--sort of like a Great Aunt recounting her glory days while thumbing through her diary. Several history teachers I know would really like the name dropping and hospital parts.

Nov 28, 2014
  • Sarah1984 rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

Thoroughly enjoyed this true story that has many similarities with Downton Abbey. I loved that this was written by the current Countess of Carnarvon, about one of the past Countesses. I found the Countess's voice very easy to read, and she made what could've been a dry story interesting and engaging. I will definitely read the next book in the series, about Lady Catherine one of the subsequent countesses.

Mar 18, 2013
  • Ireadalot2 rated this: 2 stars out of 5.

Good read. Well researched book about the life of a privileged wealthy woman in the first half of the twentieth century. There was just too much detail about the Second World War. The constant lists of battles and who fought in them got to me. I skipped a couple of chapters to the end of the war. The rest was good.

Mar 13, 2013
  • cichellic rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

The fans of Downton Abbey will enjoy the real history of Highclere Castle. Added bonus is learning the role Earl Of Carnavon played in excavating Tutankhamun's tomb. It's set me on a quest for other books about King Tut. Enjoy!

Feb 07, 2013
  • gloryb rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

I can see where Julian Fellowes got his inspiration for story ideas for his Downton Abbey TV series after reading this short biography of Lady Almina, the Countess of Carnarvon. She lived in Downton Abbey during the early 1900's to 1922 with her husband, the famous Earl of Carnavon who financed Howard Carter's Egyptian discoveries. Unfortunately, her life story in this book stops after the death of her husband in 1922 when her son became the next Earl of Carnarvon and she thus had to move out of Downton Abbey, the family home. I took the book out because I was curious to see why Alfred Rothchild's daughter was chosen as a bride by the Earl of Carnarvon and how she would be accepted by his peers. There is a great deal of name dropping and descriptions of the parties given and gone to and monies spent on these entertainments as well as other endeavors such her work in hospitals during WWI. The photos add interest to the story but really are as informative as looking at one's own pics of relatives of that time period and wondering who they were. I found myself scanning over the paragraphs with descriptions of the war effort but read those which described her family members' involvement. I found the book informative. Now I am interested in visiting Downton Abbey just see what 1900 silk on the walls looks like 110 years later!

Jan 17, 2013

Fans of the Downton Abbey series will love this book that profiles some of the real nobility who lived in Highclere Castle in its grand day in the late 1890s through to the end of the Great War. The author, Lady Fiona Carnarvon is the 8th Duchess of Carnarvon. When the Downton Abbey series began 3 years ago, she started researching the history of Highclere Castle and her husband’s ancestors. Lady Almina, was the 5th Countess of Carnarvon. Almina was the illegitimate daughter of banking tycoon Alfred de Rothschild. She was his only daughter and he doted on her. She married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon at 19 with an enormous dowry. Lady Cora in the Downton Abbey series is loosely based on Lady Almina. This book features details about some of the grand balls that took place at Highclere Castle and the role that Lady Almina played in transforming Highclere Castle into a hospital in the Great War.

Jan 04, 2013

Okay--a little slow-going.

Dec 29, 2012
  • bgsibley rated this: 4 stars out of 5.

A must read for Downton Abbey fans. An easy read and a glimpse into an era of both lavish social life and social responsibility.

Aug 23, 2012
  • HopeButterfly rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

A very interesting story of a very important time in history.

Jul 31, 2012
  • Jessi52 rated this: 5 stars out of 5.

Very interesting and true story. Lots of photos of the home, family and staff. Especially fun to read after watching Downton Abbey.

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