This is How the Real Downton Abbey Celebrates Christmas
Lady Carnarvon shares her secrets.
If you’ve ever wondered how to make your Christmas celebration even more memorable, take some tips from the resident of the real Downton Abbey.
Fans of the TV show and soon-to-be film, Downton Abbey, may know that if they want to walk in the footsteps of the illustrious Crawley family and visit the real Abbey, they need to hop on a Viking Cruise to Highclere Castle. The 5,000-acre estate in Hampshire, England, is owned by the earls of Carnarvon and stood in for the famous Abbey in the Masterpiece TV show.
Now, Lady Carnarvon, or Lady C as she is known, has spent the last year and a half writing a book all about Christmas celebrations at her home. In the book, Christmas at Highclere: Recipes and Traditions from the Real Downton Abbey, Lady Carnarvon lays out how the residents of Highclere Castle have celebrated Christmas for centuries.
While getting ready for the holidays can be an exhausting feat for any family, it takes the family and staff weeks to try to deck the halls of an entire castle. Not only do Lord and Lady Carnarvon decorate for Advent, but their holidays extend through Christmas Eve, Christmas Day, Boxing Day, and New Year’s Eve, all of which have their own traditions and requirements. In the book, Lady C discusses how the castle staff and the family gather holly and mistletoe from the grounds of the estate, have turned decorating 27 Christmas trees into a game-show style competition, and fill every pot with evergreens and baubles to make the home and grounds feel festive. There’s also plenty of recipes from the Highclere Castle kitchens, tips for how to wrap presents like a British Lady, the secret to perfectly flakey mince pies, ideas for Christmas cakes and Christmas puddings, thoughts on Christmas crackers, and how exactly one puts a twenty-foot Christmas tree in the middle of a castle.
WATCH: Downton Abbey's Highclere Castle Is Hosting a Magical Christmas Ball
Since being a member of the landed class requires excellent manners, Lady Carnarvon also explains the etiquette for spending Christmas in a castle, whether greeting unexpected knocks on the door with style, inviting carol singers to come round the castle halls, and welcoming in any and all graciously. Also, if you’ve ever wondered about Boxing Day, which Brits celebrate on the day after Christmas, Lady Carnarvon lays out Highclere's traditions as well as how they ring in the new year.
Christmas at Highclere not only tells the story of how the current family celebrates the holidays, but also weaves in moments from the castle’s illustrious past, as well as the history of Christmas traditions.
While you may not need to bring your staff upstairs to celebrate with some Christmas nog, themes like the joy of bringing family and friends together after a busy year will resonate whether you have a title or not.