Downton Abbey - Highclere Castle

The expedition which led to the awesome discovery of King Tut's tomb - in November, 1922 - was funded by George Herbert.  His official title (after the death of his father) was the 5th Earl of Carnarvon

Inheriting his ancestral home - Highclere Castle, located in Newbury, West Berkshire, England (which is south of Oxford and west of London) - the 5th Earl had great prestige but not much cash.  When he married Almina Wombwell - the goddaughter of Alfred de Rothschild, an exceedingly wealthy banker - the money problems of George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert were over.

By signing an agreement to mary the girl actually believed to be Rothschild's daughter, the 5th Earl had access to the annual sum of £6.5 million (in today's currency).  That converts to a bit more than $10 million every year.  **

Even with income like that, however, it took a great deal of money to fund Howard Carter's Egyptian excavations.  Only when Carter said he'd pay-for one more year of effort himself - which he could not afford to do - did Lord Carnarvon agree to continue as benefactor. 

The Carnarvons are the real-life models for Robert Crawley (the 7th Earl of Grantham) and Cora Crawley (Countess of Grantham) who live at Downton Abbey (the real-life Highclere Castle).  And ... just like the fictional Granthams ... the real-life Carnarvons opened their home to injured World War I soldiers.

After the war was over, and the 5th Earl could travel to Egypt, he longed for the day he'd hear some positive news from Howard Carter.  Finally ... on the 6th of November, 1922 ... he received this telegram:

At last have made wonderful discovery in the Valley.  A magnificent tomb with seals intact.  Re-covered same for your arrival.  Congratulations.

The 8th Earl of Carnarvon and his family currently own Highclere Castle (a/k/a "Downton Abbey").

In this clip, sponsored by Viking Cruises, we meet the 8th Earl (George Reginald Oliver Molyneux Herbert) - the godson of Queen Elizabeth II - and his wife Fiona (Countess of Carnarvon).

To learn more about the real Downton Abbey, also see the Countess' book entitled Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey:  The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle.

See, also:

Downton Abbey - A Murder at Piccadilly

Downton Abbey Gets a Wireless

Downton Abbey - The Dowager and the Russians

**  See Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey, at page 40 of the paperback edition, for the annual amount which Alfred de Rothschild agreed to pay to Almina (then, to her husband, if Almina died during the marriage).

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5155stories and lessons created

Original Release: Aug 12, 2014

Updated Last Revision: Feb 14, 2018

Media Credits

Clip about Highclere Castle, copyright Viking Cruises, all rights reserved.  Online via Viking Cruises' Channel at YouTube.  Clip provided here as fair use for educational purposes (and to acquaint new viewers with "Downton Abbey").


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"Downton Abbey - Highclere Castle" AwesomeStories.com. Aug 12, 2014. Sep 23, 2018.
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