What’s the connection between William Wordsworth’s Lake District home at Rydal Mount, and Highclere Castle, the location of the popular TV series Downton Abbey?
The answer was revealed to an enthralled group of visitors from New Zealand who arrived at Rydal after visiting Highclere as part of a “Downton Abbey” tour of Britain.
They learned that the current Countess of Carnarvon, whose husband’s family home is Highclere, is the sister of Christopher Wordsworth, the great great great great grandson of the poet, and one of the owners of Rydal Mount.
Fiona, wife of Geordie, the eighth earl of Carnarvon, is also author of two books about Downton Abbey and the castle setting for the drama.
“Our visitors from New Zealand had waited a long time to book a tour of Highclere because the TV series has made the castle so popular,” said Rydal Mount curator Peter Elkington.
“When they subsequently came here, they were thrilled to learn of the connection, and to hear that Christopher Wordsworth had been staying here recently.”
Highclere Castle lies to the west of London, not far from Newbury. Its gardens were designed by Capability brown, and there is also a permanent Egyptian exhibition. But it is the Downton location which attracts the most visitors, and they recognise many rooms from the TV drama, as well as exterior shots.
Says the Countess on the Highclere website: “You will see the Drawing Room in which Maggie Smith delivered many a withering comment to some unfortunate relation.”
Fiona is the author of two Downton Abbey background books which take the reader from the beginning of when the fictional series started through to the end of the second World War.
Christopher and the Wordsworth family are owners of Rydal Mount, the home of William from 1813 until his death in 1850.
Pictured: Fiona, Countess of Carnarvon, at Highclere, and her brother, Christopher Wordsworth, in the Lakes