Thursday, August 06, 2009

Can Highclere Castle be saved?

Daily Mail Online

The article is accompanied by lots of photographs of the building, which was home to the Earl of Carnarvon who funded Carter's discovery of Tutankhamun. Very sad indeed. My first experience of Highclere was when I worked for Vodafone and we held our first couple of annual balls in the castle grounds before the company outgrew the facilities available - it was a truly great venue. Most recently I was lecturing there about 5000 years of agriculture in ancient Egypt. A marvellous, fun place. Tragic to see it falling apart.

From a distance it looks like a classic fairytale castle.

Its majestic architecture and stunning setting have allowed it to play host through the centuries to royalty, nobility and celebrity. But the studded wooden doors of Highclere Castle conceal a depressingly modern reality.

Large parts of the historic stately home are verging on ruin. And the head of a family which once funded the discovery of Tutankhamun's tomb is facing a multi-million pound repair bill to safeguard its future.

Seemingly beautiful: Despite the stunning setting, Highclere Castle in Berkshire has been ravaged by damp and rot and needs £12m spent on it to preserve the historic home for future generations
A fireplace in one of the dilapidated bedrooms with mould growing on the walls. Highclere Castle

Now the Earl of Carnarvon, whose great grandfather is said to have been struck by the curse of the Pharaohs for his part in disturbing the Egyptian king's burial site, claims to be having sleepless nights over how - or if - it can be saved.

For despite a facade of luxury and magnificence - and the patronage of a string of supposed celebrity weddings - the castle has been ravaged by damp and rot.

Seeping water has caused stonework to crumble and ceilings to collapse. At least 50 rooms are uninhabitable.

Its proud stone turrets - designed by the same architect who created the Houses of Parliament - are said to be in danger of decaying beyond repair unless urgent restoration work is carried out.

See the above page for more.


Anonymous said...

Iam amazed to read this news as we went round it three weeks ago and i remember thinking what good condition the house was in compared to for example Castle Howard which has real issues re its structure. I did however wonder how the estate pays for itself as the season is very short and i cant imagine the odd celebrity wedding paying the bills. This is bad news indeed because of the beauty of the castle and the fantastic contribution made by Lord Carnarvon to world archaelogy. Why cant English Heritage or National Trust make a big contribution to these repairs

Unknown said...

I think if English Heritage or National Trust were to help out, the Carnarvons would have to, in turn, hand over at least part of their ownership.

Anonymous said...

Probably so Rebeecca but they may have no alternative and it would be preferable to letting the Castle rot.

Timothy Reid said...

Hi Andie

Great article!