Friday, July 27, 2012

Highclere and the Earls of Carnarvon

My daughter and her husband just got back from England! (Ahh! Can you hear the whistful sighs?!) They are big fans of England and of Downton Abbey, as am I. They visited the "Abbey" or as it is actually known, Highclere Castle, that is used for the filming of the series.

I am hoping to visit there soon as well, to see all the actual rooms and the magnificent grounds. I am familiar with the fact that Highclere is maintained by the current Earl of Carnarvon, whose illustrious ancestors include the 5th Earl, George Edward Stanhope Molyneux Herbert, who was the silent backer for archeologist Howard Carter and the discovery King Tut's tomb in the Valley of the Kings! Here he is at left and below left in all his early 1900's splendor.

I looked into the Peerage of Carnarvon in the 18th Century. Though the peerage was created in the 1600's, by 1793 the title was bestowed on  Henry Herbert, 1st Baron Porchester, as the Earl of the Town and County of Carnarvon. Whew! Here he is above at right.

By the way, the peerage system was created as a legal system of titles held by the nobility, giving them a right to represent certain regions, counties, etc in the House of Lords or Commons.
Henry Herbert served as Master of the Horse for the Royals at the time.  The position goes way back, actually to Ancient Rome where the title was Magister Equitum.  Generally speaking, though, the Master of the Horse serves in all matters connected with horses, stables and coachhouses, the stud, mews and in times past, the kennels for the hunting horses.

So, Herbert must have been a very busy man, and also a lucky one, having the opportunity to live at Highclere!

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