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Sunday, 12 September 2010

How to be Truly Aristocratic

During our hols up in Newcastle we visited Chillingham Castle, for centuries the home of the Grey family and now the home of Sir Humphry Wakefield (whose wife is a Grey on her mother's side). The Earls Grey were a busy lot, what with giving their name to the tea and all; the 2nd Earl Grey in the 19th century seems to have been particularly busy - he was Prime Minister, had 16 children with this wife and another child with Georgiana, Duchess of Devonshire.

I found our visit most interesting and have drawn up a list of points to bear in mind should you wish to be aristocratic:
  • Make sure you have colourful and illustrious forbears, at least one of whom has a tea named after him and several of whom have been hanged, drawn and quartered but not within the past couple of years
  • Own a castle, preferably with battlements

  • Have a room in your castle where Edward 1 visited and signed a bit of paper giving you planning permission for the battlements

  • Your castle should have beams and windy staircases, pre-Elf and Safety Regulations style
  • A gun left nonchalantly on 3 legged antique chair is a must have (position under Elf and Safety Regulations not clear, probably ok)

  • Make sure you have good quality riding boots

  • A red huntsman's jacket and riding hats are essential

  • Did I mention you need riding boots?

  • You should have a wide range of hats and other accessories

  • And don't forget, you need plenty of riding boots

  • Don't skimp on the riding tack either

  • You need some beautifully decorated state rooms

  • The state rooms should preferably have been built for a recent Royal visit (James 1's)

  • Decorate with tapestries and antiques, do not go to IKEA; obviously your furniture should be inherited, not bought

  • You must take all the latest periodicals and magazines so you can keep up to date

(The nice caretaker man held the pages open for me to photo)

  • You need a formal garden kept in trim by faithful retainer

  • Finally, a lake really is de rigueur

Right, I'm off to dig a lake.


  1. Would that mean that you need to be a bit eccentric, and have dodgy taste in decorating to be an "aristocrat"?
    I think Townsville could provide a few aristocrats then, there are state(ly) homes here with gardens decorated with three wheeled cars, with guns inside them. They don't stint on their sporting footwear either, they have thongs of different colours on every step both inside and outside the house. The furnishings are definitely inherited, well used and mismatching.
    I am never game to ask the "friendly caretaker" to help me photograph these homes.

    Yay, Blighty, did I tell you how glad I am that you are back blogging?
    Louise xx

  2. let's see....I live 'near' a lake...I'm a decendent of Lady Jane Gray (9 days as Queen still counts as Queen!)....I do own a pair of riding boots....and motorcycle boots(!)....still sadly lacking in shrubberies and guns....hmmm....

  3. The boots look well polished as does the decor...what an amazing place.
    Makes my tiny Bungalow look like a storage shed!

  4. Dear Mrs Blighty, I do love going to historic homes too but the ones in Australia are a little different to the splendid castle you visited. In Canberra there are a number of historic homesteads which while admittedly having certain charming aspects leave one firmly with the impression that the fine English ladies dragged out there rather wished they hadn't been. Now, Mrs Blighty, there wasn't an entrenching tool among those knives on that drawing room table was there? Shades of Uncle Matthew...

  5. Hello Blighty
    Informative as always.

    Will endeavour to decorate the house in said style.

    If we dig our lakes, is there a guarantee mr Darcy will walk out from it too?

    SSG xxx

  6. Dear Louise - love it, love the "thongs of different colours" Townsville is dead posh!
    L - are you really a descendent of Lady Jane Grey, how fascinating, please tell more, you are Truly Aristocratic and can get away with not having guns and shrubs. Poor Lady Jane had a miserable life from what I have read, her parents used to beat her and just used her as a pawn in their power games, awful
    Hostess - actually it was definitely not pristine, a bit crumbly at the edges, your house is I am sure much nicer and cosier, the entrance hall downstairs was v old and gloomy and depressing
    Linda - entrenching tool! We are so on the same wavelength! I must ask, have you been on your desert trip yet? (spelling? have I just asked you if you have been on pudding tasting tour? no, think that is dessert?)
    Dear SSG - phwoar, Mr Darcy and his clingy damp shirt, phwoar. Must go calm down.

  7. Dear Mrs Blighty, We are currently in the Atacama which has done it's best for us and is covered with Spring flowers except where it is not and then is amazingly stark, beautiful and moody. I had palpitations when I worked out the whole trip would be some 4000 km (which even for Aussies is rather far) but I am loving it all so much I will think it was all my idea. My husband does like to get on with things so we are already at the half way mark and we only left Santiago on Saturday morning. Anyway, we are back for tea on Saturday via Argentina then lucky me is off the next day to Washington for a work thingy that they have wheeled me out for. Just need to get my hair done before meetings...

  8. Dear Linda, wow, that sounds amazing, have you ever read Bruce Chatwin, did he ever travel in those parts? I read one of his once about somewhere in South America?? And then Washington! you are a highflyer! Are you meeting Mr Obama? Tell him he's looking a bit tired, he needs a nice rest. I am off to the Post office, via the tumble drier (don't want you to think my life isn't exciting too) xx

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