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Lady Fiona Carnarvon

The Countess of Carnarvon of Highclere Castle; Author, Lady Almina And The Real Downton Abbey, Christmas At Highclere, New York Times Best-seller Lady Catherine, The Earl, And The Real Downton Abbey, and Seasons at Highclere

As the eighth and current Countess of Carnarvon reigning, Lady Fiona Carnarvon was inspired to share the true story of Highclere Castle’s conversion to a hospital during WWI. Highclere is the real-life setting for Masterpiece’s Downton Abbey. Using diaries, letters, and photos straight out of the Edwardian era, she produced Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey.

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Travels From: United Kingdom | Fee Range: $25,000 - $45,000

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From Tutankhamun to Downton Abbey: Reinventing heritage in a changing world

What is it like to live in a Castle today? Highclere Castle is a family home, but has now become synonymous with “Downton Abbey,” the TV series. As such, reality and fiction are brought together in so many people’s minds.

  • Will such stately homes remain relevant?
  • What is the path to financial stability?

Through experience and research, Lady Carnarvon is an expert on the perspective offered by the history and heritage of Highclere Castle.      How have the priorities changed or, in some cases, remained the same? Along with her husband, she has approached these questions and has been working strategically on their plans to keep Highclere both relevant and profitable. Surrounded by history and heritage, she has used the castle’s rich stories to draw in visitors and income through various endeavors. But it’s not just about ‘now’ – Highclere must thrive, adapt and grow for generations to come.

Lady Carnarvon’s best-selling books illustrate the character of the Castle, illuminate its rich history, and provide insight into the daily matters of upkeeping such a stately home. She shares fascinating tidbits from her unique life with audiences, tailoring the stories to match their interests and pursuits.

What is it like to live in a Castle today, what is it like to live with a film crew for many months? Highclere is a family home but has now become synonymous with “Downton Abbey” the TV series. Thus reality and fiction are brought together in so many people’s minds. Will such stately homes remain relevant and where is the path to financial stability?

Lady Carnarvon has approached all these questions with her husband. Surrounded by history and heritage, she has turned the stories into ways of drawing visitors to Highclere, and of sharing it with others.

Using her latest, beautiful book ‘At Home at Highclere – Entertaining at the real Downton Abbey’ Lady Carnarvon shares the history, the visitors, the art of entertaining over the past 150 years and how the lifestyle has changed and in some cases remained the same.

At the heart of any home is cooking, and therefore menus and recipes. Every leading lady needs to understand how the house works, upstairs, downstairs and how the estate relates to and supports the Castle.

This address explores inspiration and motivation through the generations and stewards of one of the world’s most famous homes, Highclere Castle, known internationally as ‘Downton Abbey.’

Due to social and cultural shifts over the last decade, organizations are being held to new and ever-shifting standards. The mindset for profitability at any cost is no longer considered a responsible or acceptable means of doing business. In today’s social climate, it is more important than ever to display interest in concerns such as sustainability, preservation, and acceptance. Through actions, partnerships, or support, organizations can communicate a range of values that communicate their company mission and help their “bottom line”—responsibly.

When visitors enter the castle, Lady Carnarvon meets them at the front door. She tells them, “Welcome to Highclere Castle. I’m simply a steward here, and I’m so grateful to the generations before me who have planted the seeds—both literally and figuratively—for our success.” But what does she mean?

In this thoughtful address, Lady Carnarvon defines stewardship through action, using a variety of personal anecdotes from her management of the iconic Highclere Castle. She touches upon…

  • People of history – How the 5th Earl Carnarvon’s discovery of Tutankhamun with Howard Carter changed the world.
  • The art of Highclere – Art informs the past and tells the future.
  • Beyond the Castle – How the parklands, trees, wildflowers, and these relationships with nature are key to our survival as a race.
  • A history of farming at Highclere – How growing food well and re-wilding are essential for nature and our planet.

In this unique discussion, Lady Carnarvon discusses the business side of Highclere Castle and Estate—and it’s full of surprises.

Highclere Castle has become a national treasure and has served a multitude of purposes beyond its gorgeous gardens, regal architecture, and tourism mecca. Highclere Castle was converted into a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I and served as a long-term home and sanctuary for children who had been evacuated from London during World War II. As such, several challenges have been presented to Highclere over the years and have been overcome. Its modern-day operations are no exception.

To survive, Highclere needs to create ongoing revenue streams whilst retaining the heritage and sense of place for which it has become famous. Albeit a unique and family-run operation, like any business, Highclere needs to earn its keep in today’s world.

Highclere today serves as a film location and contains many branches of retail endeavors: wine, gin, cigars, agricultural goods, and hospitality. Lady Carnarvon—herself a best-selling author—is at the heart of these endeavors, all of which have various moving parts. She works with an experienced and dedicated team.

Speaking of her experiences as they relate to your organization or institution—whether it be agriculture, farming, retail, sustainability, hospitality, or exciting new ventures connecting people all over the world—Lady Carnarvon employs her intrinsic characteristics of integrity and altruism to connect with your audience in a meaningful and inspiring way. She illustrates the road map for which Highclere Castle has encountered and overcome its challenges, becoming the national brand it is today.


Fiona, 8th Countess of Carnarvon, is the wife of Geordie, 8th Earl of Carnarvon. They live at Highclere Castle, known to millions around the world as ‘Downton Abbey’. She is a best-selling author and historian, entrepreneur, international speaker, and fundraiser in the UK and abroad. She is recognised for her empowering, entertaining, and informative talks.

Highclere Castle is many things. An iconic stately home and estate that must earn its keep. At its heart, a successful family business. It continues to thrive, adapt, and grow for generations to come. Generations of family, of visitors, of friends and staff—for all of whom Highclere is an important and integral part of life. Its roster includes hosting film crews, events, welcoming visitors throughout the year as well as the global brand endeavours of Highclere Castle gin and cigars. There is a seasonal farming cycle and conservation and sustainability is at the heart of everything Highclere.

Lady Carnarvon and her husband live ‘quietly’ with nine dogs, horses and ponies, a brood of chickens, several beehives, and some rare breed pigs. They are both actively involved in the day-to-day life and running of the castle and estate, working with a committed team.

The restoration and management of the historic buildings and gardens remain a key part of the work. Their latest exciting venture ‘Friends of Highclere’ is building a community of individuals who are passionate about all that Highclere is.

Lady Carnarvon’s background—from St Andrews University to training with PwC as a chartered accountant—gave her a grounding which has proved invaluable in moving with the times, the world of business, and reinventing what a stately home is today.


A historian, author and tour-de-force.

Women’s Council of the Dallas Arboretum

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