_Following a report in yesterday’s Daily Telegraph regarding Highclere Castle, the setting of ITV1’s Downton Abbey, Andrew wrote the following letter to The Daily Telegraph, an edited version of which appears in today’s paper._
May I express my joy and relief that the success of the ITV series “Downton Abbey” leads the Earl of Carnarvon to announce that its “star”, Sir Charles Barry’s wonderful Highclere Castle is saved.
I, along with the Highclere Society and the North Wessex Downs Preservation Society, have been very concerned that the Earl had proposed to develop housing in swathes of the north Hampshire Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (ANOB), relying on special English Heritage planning guidelines to raise money to restore the castle. Under these guidelines, this sort of development is only permitted if every other avenue is exhausted or if the sale of the building to be restored to a sympathetic buyer cannot be achieved.
The action groups drew my attention to the potential damage to the ANOB. This, combined with my love of architecture, was behind my interest (mentioned in today’s article) in exploring whether the castle, which is not lived in, could possibly become a publicly accessed long term home for my art collection. Today we read that the TV series will generate enough income to save the castle and presumably the proposed development need not take place. This is truly a fantastic outcome for all.
As Bertie Wooster, a previous TV resident of Highclere Castle would say, “Top hole! Jeeves.”.
ANDREW LLOYD WEBBER
_Image c. John Swannell._