Channel 4 is on to a winning streak with its new series The Aristocrats, showing there’s a lot more to running a stately home than garden fetes and antique bookcases.
Recently, Ribble Valley viewers watched James Spencer-Churchill – the wayward heir to the Blenheim Palace estate – trying to prove he was capable of taking over the reins when his father, the Duke of Marlborough died. On 29th November, the dashing Charles Henry Gordon-Lennox, Earl of March and Kinrara, showed the pressures he was under managing the Goodwood estate on behalf of his father, the 10th Duke of Richmond.
Goodwood House has been their family seat since the 17th Century, but is more associated with speed than antique oak pedestal desks . Most Ribble Valley residents have heard of the racecourse and of Glorious Goodwood, the highlight of the flat-racing calendar. The Grand Prix race track is equally famous, putting on major events like the Festival of Speed each year.
With an aerodrome, golf course, organic farm, hotel and other facilities, Goodwood is one of the few country estates to be totally self-sufficient – something that has largely been achieved through the efforts of Lord Charles Henry March. However, much of the revenue is ploughed straight back into the house, and in what he refers to as “mortmain” (literally ‘hand of the dead’) he describes the pressure he is under to keep his inheritance in good repair.
Aristocrats live a life of wealth and privilege that most can only dream of. However, anyone can visit an antique dealer and in Preston there are Victorian mahogany partners desks , antique dining tables and other fine furniture to add a stately touch to any home.
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