Located in Cumbria, Highclere Castle is best known as the setting of hit TV series Downton Abbey, but the antique cabinets and Victorian dining chairs are not always treated with the best care, as the castle’s owner revealed in a recent interview.
Photographed next to a stunning Louis XV library table, Fiona, the 8th Countess of Carnarvon, explained that Julian Fellowes had become a personal friend since choosing Highclere as the setting for his series. In the library, which is lined with open bookshelves containing over 5,600 volumes, an elegant Carlton House antique desk and chair take centre stage. Countess Fiona reflected that the crew was not always as careful as she would have like it to be but, on the plus side, business was booming and Maggie Smith had become a regular visitor.
The Countess made particular reference to a stunning oriental antique chest once used for storing tea. One of several pieces of antique marquetry furniture in the Drawing Room, it was made more than 210 years ago and was potentially very valuable. The Countess, however, does not really care for the piece’s value. She said:
“I’ve no idea how much it’s worth, as my aim is never to sell anything.”
The elaborately decorated, richly gilded design of the chest reflects the value placed on tea 200 years ago. Residents in the Ribble Valley can find similar antique chests some of in Lancashire’s better antique dealers.
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