A lady's home is her castle Inspiration.
the Count and Countess of Carnarvon at their stately pile, setting of the Downton Abbey series.SCANNING the news coverage of Fiona Carnarvon's life through recent years, you could be forgiven for thinking it had been made up.Fiona born Fiona Aitken and now the eighth Countess of Carnarvon, chatelaine of Highclere Castle, where the hit TV show Downton Abbey is filmed fits the bill. She was once a senior auditor at Coopers Lybrand.And could she maybe have a dodgy ex lover who pops up ray ban repair now and again to make her life hell? One need look no further than Sir Benjamin Slade, an eccentric baronet who took her to the British High Court to retrieve his dog, Jasper, after she took the pup when they split. The dog had a 50,000 inheritance from a batty relative of Slade's and he still takes pot shots at Fiona in the press, specifically for making a quick buck renting out the castle for TV shoots rather than ''doing a decent day's work''.Oh, and what about some wacko star associates? And a feud? The countess has those in spades.After marrying the eighth ray ban rb3293 Earl of Carnarvon, in 1999 they met at a dinner party she and her husband decided to rent out their castle to the likes of the filmmaker Stanley Kubrick and the former glamour model Katie Price, to help fund the mounting costs of fixing up the property where her husband's family have lived since the 1300s.Kubrick used the castle's exterior as a backdrop for the orgy scenes in his film Eyes Wide Shut while Price arrived at the castle for her marriage to Peter Andre in a pumpkin shaped carriage.The music impresario Andrew Lloyd Webber is a neighbour, albeit not a happy one. In what must be the posh equivalent of setting a neighbour's bin on fire, Lloyd Webber has written to ray ban vintage the local council in an attempt to block the couple's development proposal to build ''six or seven houses'' on their property.Lord Lloyd Webber's letter was written on official House of Lords stationery, an apparent slap in the face for Carnarvon, who, since the abolition of hereditary peers' automatic right to a seat in the House of Lords in 1999, is no longer a member.While her own dramas don't feature in her book, her husband's family sure do and, as the countess puts it, ''I have quite a unique point of view.''Her husband's great grandmother, Almina Carnarvon, was the target of ''a web of rumour and gossip'' in the 19th century, when, at 19, she married the fifth Earl of Carnarvon.Born Almina Victoria Marie Alexandra Wombwell, she was the illegitimate daughter of the banking tycoon Alfred de Rothschild.This put her on a very different social footing to the earl, who was not only, clearly, an earl but also a culture vulture who would later find worldwide fame when, in 1922, he sponsored archaeologist Howard Carter's discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun in Egypt's Valley of the Kings.Needing an influx of cash to maintain his home as its present owners do he married Almina, who came with a guaranteed dowry of 12,000 a year by her biological father, who adored her.She ray ban 3364 would prove to be a formidable partner, not only by becoming involved in politics (vocally opposing attempts to reform the House of Lords) but also by convincing him to transform their castle into a hospital for wounded soldiers during World War I.If the gossip, intrigue and scandal of Almina's life smacks of the plot points of Downton Abbey which follows the ups and downs of the Earl of Grantham, his American wife, Cora, and their three daughters, there's good reason for it.And, in a neat twist, the countess's book is now helping to fund the current, much needed renovations, estimated at 12 million. The show has caused the number of visitors to Highclere to skyrocket from 100 to 600 coach parties a year. ''I just thought, compared to what Almina did, I can surely do this,'' she says. ''I was somewhat older [when she married the earl].
''I was in my 30s and had done other things.''She was also, it has to be said, much better with her money.While Fiona took up accountancy ''to have something to fall back on'', Almina died bankrupt and, according to another book on the lady, ''a social outcast''.
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