Earlier in September this year, I took my wife (Vina) and daughter (Cyrene) to Europe for 10 days. As with most things, I had multiple motives. First, I am planning to include some aspects of European life, specifically British manor homes, in my future writings and wanted to visit some of these homes. Second, as you may have picked up from some of my earlier writings, I am a history buff and my daughter has become one as well. In addition to visiting some British manor homes, I wanted to visit Oxford University (may site some story lines there as well) and Normandy D-day Beaches. And finally wanted to include a family vacation. So, why not roll all these objectives into one trip. I did and we had a great time. Over the next few weeks I’ll share some of our experiences and sites. Hope you enjoy.
We arrived early in the am and were exhausted after a two-hour line in Customs at Heathrow. We stayed at the Chesterfield Hotel in the Mayfair section of London, a beautiful section of the city.
Nothing too strenuous on the first day, we just wandered around London. But on day 2 we headed out on our first excursion to Highclere Castle.
Highclere is the current home of the 8th Earl & Countess of Carnavon. The 5th Earl of Carnavon and Howard Carter collaborated on the Tutankhamen discovery in Egypt in 1922. Far more people are now familiar with Highclere as the locale for the popular BBC television series, Downton Abbey. Our driver informed us that before Downton Abbey there were possible 100 or so visitors to Highclere each day. Now there are more than 1500 per day.
I do watch and enjoy the television show, but my primary interest in Highclere was the history and to admire the architecture. William of Wykeham built much of the original foundation of Highclere around 1368. There were major rebuilding works in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. In 1838, the 3rd Earl of Carnovon brought in Sir Charles Barry to transform his home into a grand mansion. Sir Charles was the designer of the British Houses of Parliament in London.
Here are a few photos
And one of my favorite pieces in the manor – a terra-cotta wyvern (winged dragon with two legs and a scaly tail).
More about Highclere and the discovery of Tutankhamun later.