Secrets of Chatsworth
In its 500-year history, Chatsworth has been home to some notable inhabitants, among them the 5th Duke of Devonshire, his wife, Lady Georgiana Spencer, and Lady Elizabeth Foster, who lived together in a ménage à trois. King Edward VII enjoyed shooting parties on the estate and was often entertained by Duchess Louisa, one of Britain’s foremost political hostesses. Duchess Louisa’s daughter-in-law, American Consuelo Yznaga del Valle, introduced American heiresses into the British aristocracy; many of these young women married British noblemen.
Secrets of Althorp - The Spencers
Althorp, childhood home and final resting place of Princess Diana, is currently the home of Diana’s brother, Charles, the 9th Earl Spencer. Nineteen generations of Spencers have presided over this grand estate for more than 500 years. The Spencer dynasty has produced politicians, military heroes, dukes and duchesses and will one day furnish Britain with a king: Diana’s son, Prince William. Noted for their generosity, the Spencers once came to the rescue of a distant cousin fallen on hard times: the great-great-great-grandfather of George Washington.
Secrets of Highclere Castle
Secrets of Highclere Castle is the true story of one of the world’s most famous homes, Highclere Castle in England. Famous as the location backdrop to the hugely-popular costume drama Downton Abbey, the castle also has its own extraordinary tales to tell.
For centuries it has been the real-life home of the aristocratic Carnarvon family, and has entertained Kings and Queens of England along with a host of nobilities and celebrities. An ancestor of the modern-day Lord and Lady Carnarvon bankrolled the expeditions that discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen, which explains one of this stately home’s astonishing secrets. Hidden within secret compartments in its wall are centuries-old Egyptian relics, while in the basement are replicas of the contents of the tomb itself: a slice of Egyptian history transported to the depths of the English countryside.
Secrets of the Manor House
Exactly 100 years ago, the world of the British manor house was at its height. It was a life of luxury and indolence for a wealthy few supported by the labor of hundreds of servants toiling ceaselessly “below stairs” to make the lives of their lords and ladies run as smoothly as possible. It is a world that has provided a majestic backdrop to a range of movies and popular costume dramas to this day, including PBS’ Downton Abbey.
But what was really going on behind these stately walls? Secrets of the Manor House looks beyond the fiction to the truth of what life was like in these British houses of yesteryear. They were communities where two separate worlds existed side by side: the poor worked as domestic servants, while the nation’s wealthiest families enjoyed a lifestyle of luxury, and aristocrats ruled over their servants as they had done for a thousand years.
BBC Newsnight - Dowager Duchess of Devonshire
The Dowager Duchess of Devonshire is the youngest and last surviving of the six aristocratic Mitford sisters who were famed for their high profile relationships and political affiliations.
She talks to Newsnight’s Kirsty Wark about her extraordinary life - including joining her sister Unity for tea with Adolf Hitler when he was leader of Germany.
Broadcast on Tuesday 14 December 2010.
Society ladies of the past who danced with JFK and dined with Adolf Hitler.
Scottish referendum: What Act Two could hold - in 60 secs
Scotland has voted to stay in the United Kingdom after decisively rejecting independence, with First Minister Alex Salmond resigning as a result. But the stage is still set for change, not just for Scotland, but for the rest of the UK. The BBC examines how - in 60 seconds.