A beautiful book offers a glimpse behind the scenes.

By Southern Living
January 30, 2019
Credit: amazon.com

Manor houses dot the English landscape and are noted for their stunning architecture and deep histories. They also have a reputation for hospitality and have been destinations for celebrations over the centuries. The most well-known of these houses has to be Highclere Castle, a structure made famous by the popular television series Downton Abbey and the Julian Fellowes-penned stories set in and around it. The house is a pristine example of the form, but it's not just a recognizable setting; it's also an ancestral home, the occupants of which have a knack for entertaining.

You can take a behind-the-scenes look at the castle, its soirees, and its history in the book At Home at Highclere: Entertaining at the Real Downton Abbey, written by Lady Fiona Carnarvon (also known as the Countess of Carnarvon and the current chatelaine, or the lady of the house). The manor is the Carnarvon family's ancestral home, and the book shares the stately spot with readers in the form of a beautifully photographed compendium.

Credit: amazon.com

The home has a storied history. According to PBS, "Just like its television counterpart, the castle was a military hospital that played a vital role in the First World War," and also, "it was deemed the social epicenter of Edwardian England and even hosted HRH The Prince of Wales, the future King of England, for the most extravagant shooting party in Highclere's history." The home and its occupants have a strong tradition of entertaining, which is celebrated in Lady Carnarvon's book and still practiced enthusiastically today.

You can find At Home at Highclere: Entertaining at the Real Downton Abbey at Amazon or via Indiebound. You can also explore the home via the television special "Secrets of Highclere Castle," which airs periodically on PBS and which can be accessed at pbs.org with a PBS Passport subscription.

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Are you looking forward to the upcoming Downton Abbey film? Will you be picking up At Home at Highclere: Entertaining at the Real Downton Abbey for some entertaining inspiration? We think it's perfect for the coffee tables of true Downton fans.