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10. Lady Almina and The Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon

I decided to forgo the typical  book cover for the actual book I read while sipping tea last Friday. Paul had a state test to take at Lebanon High School so I escaped to one of my favorite tea rooms: Mrs. B's Special Tea. 

What fun to read about Lady Almina while having a proper cup of tea! 

I really loved this book. Lady Almina was the rich, illegitimate child of Sir Alfred de Rothchild. She married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon infusing his estate with cash (much like Cora did in Downton Abbey) and giving herself legitimacy in the aristocratic world and a title: Countess of Carnarvon. Her money also helped fund the Earl of Carnarvon's exploits in Egypt that eventually led to the discovery of King Tut's tomb. 

For those of you who do not know, the Carnarvons oversee Highclere Castle where Downton Abbey is filmed. The book is written by the current Countess of Carnarvon. She is an excellent writer and good historian. 

Like in Downton Abbey, Highclere Castle became a hospital during World War I, but beyond Downton, they even performed surgeries there and Lady Almina became a competent nurse!  

I really admire this woman. If you love history (and Downton Abbey), you will love this book!

If you do not have the time to read the book, this 55 minute documentary on Highclere Castle with the author of the book will be a short way to learn the history!

Watch Beyond the Fiction on PBS. See more from Secrets of the Manor House.

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