Tuesday, August 23, 2016

If You Liked "Downton Abbey" ...

"The Mistresses of Clivedon - Three Centuries of Scandal, Power and Intrigue in an English Stately House" by Natalie Livingston   494 pages  $32

This is an engaging book, well-written by the wife of the current owner.  Clivedon,, named for the white chalk cliffs - Clifden in those days - is nine miles from Windsor Castle and was built originally by the Duke of Buckingham for his mistress Anna Maria.  She was the wife of the Earl of Shrewsbury and the two men fought a duel over her.  Buckingham won and she was then socially accepted as the widow of Shrewsbury.

Over its life span, Clivedon was burned twice, causing great ruin and subsequent rebuilding in the main section.  During WW1 occupant Nancy, Lady Astor ran it is a troop hospital, putting in wards over the tennis courts and in the grounds. 

The main house was huge with ample space for guests and the wings, added over the years, took care of their servants and the household help. 

The Profumo scandal was the last big event covered in this history of the house.  The swimming pool exists as it was then.

Today the place is the Clivedon House Hotel.  Harold Macmillan upon being told it was to become a hotel, remarked, "My dear boy, it always has been." 

Out of curiosity, I looked up the rates ... a room for two is 432 squiggle marks (pound?) per night,  The rate called "Hot Dates" gave me pause but turns out it's a reference to set-aside dates for bargain rate rooms if you consider 150 squiggles per person for one night.   There is a chef-led dining room and a set tea for 40 squiggles per person. 

By contrast, the much-adored Downton Abbey grounds, filming sites, side tour to Oxford day trip from London is $140 (dollars) which does not include tea or lunch or a pint at a pub of your choice.  You will be led through the display rooms of Highclere, but don't plan to spend the night.  Strictly see and go home.

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