Highclere Castle Visit Yields New Ideas for Hyde Hall Shop Manager

Highclere Castle Visit Yields New
Ideas for Hyde Hall Shop Manager

Joanie Lamb stands in front of Highclere Castle, site of the famous BBC drama “Downton Abbey.”

When their plans fell through to visit England in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, locals Randy and Joanie Lamb had to hope the opportunity would arise again. Their goal? To visit Highclere Castle, a charming estate in Hampshire County made famous as the palatial country home to the Crawley family and their domestic servants on the award-winning BBC drama “Downton Abbey.”

In reality, the mid-Victorian, Palladian-style manor exists as the country seat to the Earls of Carnarvon. The Herbert family, a succession of aristocrats holding prominence in the upper echelons of British society, traces their connection to the estate back to the 17th century. Renovations in the 19th century expanded the structure, based on designs by Sir Charles Barry, chief architect of the Houses of Parliament.

Notable Earls of Carnarvon include the fifth, styled Lord Porchester, who became an avid Egyptologist during the latter half of his life. Partnering with archaeologist Howard Carter, his team uncovered the Tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt’s Valley of Kings in 1922. Additionally, the seventh Earl of Carnarvon, also commonly referred to as Lord Porchester, served as horseracing manager to Queen Elizabeth II. His personal relationship with the late queen was highlighted in the Netflix drama “The Crown.” The Lambs were also able to visit the queen’s final resting place at Windsor Castle.

Their tour of Highclere, Randy said, “created an experience” with the land and estate, and provided him an opportunity to learn. As the gift shop manager at local historic landmark Hyde Hall, he said, he’s always looking for ways to improve the guest experience.

Hyde Hall got a boost in visitation when “Downton Abbey” first aired in 2011, Randy said, helping the 501c3 organization continue its restoration project and stewardship. Most recently, local weaver Rabbit Goody completed a remake of the home’s original curtains in the dining room.

“I hope it [this story] will encourage folks to travel again, enjoy other cultures and experience all that life has to offer while we can!” said Randy.

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