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Sometimes the facts are even more extraordinary than the fiction...Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey tells the story of the beautiful American heiress who lived at Highclere Castle, the setting for Julian Fellowes' award winning drama Downton Abbey. Glamorous and wealthy, Catherine became the toast of London society when she travelled across the Atlantic in 1920 to marry the Earl of Porchester, or 'Porchy', as he was kwn. At just 19 Catherine had to learn how to organise and host the lavish banquets and weekend house parties that Porchy so loved. She found herself suddenly in charge of the more than eighty staff working at Highclere Castle, and persuaded her husband to improve their living and working conditions. But things were far from perfect. The demands of running such a large household were greater than Lady Catherine had expected. Her new husband gradually revealed himself to be a scandalous rogue, squandering their money and pursuing silent movie stars across London. When World War Two broke out, there was yet more turbulence, with Highclere transformed into an American airbase, and host to several hundred soldiers, as well as fifty young evacuees from East London. Drawing on rich material from the archives at Highclere, including beautiful period photographs, Lady Carnarvon transports us back to the thrilling and alluring world of the real Downton Abbey and its inhabitants.
Lady Fiona Carnarvon married the current Earl of Carnarvon in 1999, and they took over Highclere nine years ago.