Thursday, January 17, 2013

Lady Almina and the Real Downtown Abby

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
Update to previous post...

Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle 
by The Countess of Carnarvon
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This year I started watching Downton Abbey on Masterpiece Theater on PBS.  As I watch it, I keep thinking of Lady Almina walking up and down the stairs! 

Posted in June, 2012
I admit I have not watched the Downton Abbey TV series. I am not sure I will, but I am very glad I read this book. Reading it gave me a real sense of the history of England from the end of the Victorian Era until the end of World War I. The aristocracy and its strict rules of personal conduct began to unravel during this period. (As was pointed out in the book, it really didn't become as we know it today until the end of World War II.)


The book was written by the present Countess of Carnarvon who had available to her a lot of the family documents. I felt a real sense of connection to the Carnarvon's and their social circle. Of special interest was the fact that Lord Carnarvon along with Howard Clark was responsible for finding the unopened tomb of Tutankhamen. In fact, without his and his wife's financial support was crucial in the success of the venture.  I was especially interested because I did see the King Tut Exhibit when it came to Memphis, Tennessee, in the 1980's.

More importantly...the horrors of World War I were all too real. Almost a whole generation of British men were lost in the war. After the end of the war more that 50 million people worldwide died from the Spanish Influenza, more people than had died in the war.


Lady Almina
Lady Almina played her part by turning Highclere, their country estate, into a hospital using the funds from her father, Sir Alfred Charles de Rothschild. He was very generous with his money. Lady Almina was generous with money, but also with her time and energy. She found her life's work in nursing the ill when she founded the hospital.


Highclere Castle
I highly recommend you read this book. You will shed a few tears, both happy and sad. You will close the book with a better sense of the difference between war then and now.

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