The gracious Countess of Carnarvon and good people at Preface Publishing recently invited me to shoot the food at Highclere Castle (the house where Downton Abbey was filmed) for a new cook book: At Home at Highclere: Stories and Menus from The Real Downton Abbey.
The publication showcases recipes as it explores Highclere’s famous guests through history.
In place of Mrs Patmore, Head Chef Paul Brooke-Taylor heads up the pass at Highclere. During my visit, Paul was busy faithfully recreating historical dishes, whilst I rummaged through cupboards stacked high with innumerable ornate dinner plates.
I was privileged to be given the opportunity to work freely within the Castle, utilising some priceless heirlooms as both backgrounds and props – copper jelly moulds, silverware from the vault, an endless supply of plates and antique shotguns. Carson would not have approved.
While the house is stunning, I was particularly moved by the grounds, the landscape and Lady Carnarvon’s commitment to preserving and sharing the vision of Capability Brown. The historically important landscape designer was commissioned, in 1771, to re-engineer the grounds on an immense scale to reflect the elegance of nature from the earlier more formal gardens surrounding the house.
This Berkshire setting created the highlight of my four days at Highclere Castle: setting up an afternoon-tea shot on the front lawn, complete with a selection of dogs, horses and sheep….!
Do yourself a favour and visit the Castle and grounds of Highclere: the people are lovely, the house and gardens are remarkable and the chutney in the gift shop is epic!
(A special thanks to Alex and Hannah for taking some nice shots of me at work – thank you guys, appreciated x)