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Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

Lady Carnarvon reveals a selection of the moreish recipes she serves at home at Highclere Castle. Pictured: Lady Carnarvon lays the table


Slow-roasting the delicious lamb will ensure that the meat just falls apart.

Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

This slow-baked lamb with anchovies, garlic & herbs makes a delicious roast dinner 

Serves 6

  • 4 sprigs of rosemary, leaves finely chopped
  • 4 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1tbsp capers, finely chopped
  • 3 anchovy fillets in oil, drained and finely chopped
  • 2tbsp olive oil
  • 2 lemons
  • 1.5kg (3lb 5oz) shoulder of lamb, on the bone
  • 2 red onions, cut into wedges
  • A small glass of white wine

Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. Mix the rosemary, garlic, capers, anchovies and olive oil with the zest and juice of 1 lemon, reserving the squeezed lemon halves. Make 3-4 slashes across the top of the joint of lamb and rub the mixture all over. 

Scatter the onions into a large roasting tin. Cut the remaining lemon in half, squeeze the juices into the tin, and place all the lemon halves in the tin. Place the lamb on top and roast for 1 hour. 

Pour in the wine and roast for a further 3 hours until the meat is tender. Leave to rest for 15 minutes, pull into chunks rather than carve, and serve with the pan juices.

Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

This delicious beer-simmered beef pie is best served with sliced green cabbage 


Everyone likes pies. This version includes a few vegetables as a proper pie should, but also goes well served with sliced green cabbage. It is delicious and perhaps the note to self should be to remember the motto ‘everything in moderation’.

Serves 6

  • 6tbsp olive oil
  • 2 large onions, thinly sliced
  • 4 carrots, sliced
  • 3 celery stalks, sliced
  • ½ a garlic bulb, bashed
  • 3tbsp plain flour, for dusting
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1kg (2lb 4oz) shin of beef, diced
  • 570ml (20fl oz) ale or beer
  • 300ml (10fl oz) beef stock
  • 3-4 sprigs of rosemary
  • Rough puff pastry (see recipe across the bottom of the page or use 250g/ 9oz store-bought puff pastry)
  • 1 egg, beaten

Preheat the oven to 160°C/fan 140°C/gas 3. To make the filling, heat 2tbsp of the oil in a large heavy-bottomed frying pan over a medium heat. 

Add the onions, carrots, celery and garlic and soften gently until they start to colour. Do not let them burn. Place them in a large, lidded casserole dish.

Put the flour in a shallow bowl and season with salt and pepper. Coat each piece of beef in the flour and shake off any excess. Turn up the heat in the pan used to prepare the vegetables, add the remaining oil and brown the beef in batches. Add the beef to the vegetables.

Add 2 or 3tbsp of the beer to the frying pan, scrape off any bits from the bottom of the pan and pour everything into the casserole. Pour the remaining ale and the beef stock over the beef and tuck in the rosemary sprigs. 

Cook for 2 hours or until the meat is really tender and the sauce has thickened.

To assemble and bake the pie, take your pastry out of the fridge and roll out to a thickness of about ½cm (¼in) to the shape of your pie dish. 

Pour the filling into the dish, top with the pastry, brush with beaten egg, season well, and bake in the oven for 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. Serve immediately.


This is a very indulgent cake, very moist and rich. The mixture is quite thin so it is important to use old-fashioned sandwich tins rather than springform tins, which will probably leak.

Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

This tasty chocolate cake with strawberries & cream is best served with a few more strawberries 

Serves 6-8

  • 225g (8oz) plain flour
  • 350g (12oz) caster sugar
  • 85g (3oz) cocoa powder
  • 1½tsp baking powder
  • 1½tsp bicarbonate of soda
  • 2 eggs
  • 250ml (9fl oz) milk
  • 125ml (4fl oz) vegetable oil
  • 2tsp vanilla extract 
  • 250ml (9fl oz) boiling water 

For the filling

  • 200ml (7fl oz) double cream
  • 1 punnet strawberries, plus extra to decorate the top of the cake

For the icing

  • 200g (7oz) plain chocolate
  • 200ml (7fl oz) double cream

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Grease and line two 20cm-diameter sandwich tins.

Place all of the cake ingredients, except the boiling water, into a large mixing bowl and beat until smooth. Add the boiling water, a little at a time, until the mixture is smooth and sloppy. 

Divide between the tins and bake for 25-35 minutes or until the top is firm to the touch and a skewer inserted into the centres comes out clean. Remove the cakes from the oven and leave them in their tins to cool completely.

For the filling, whip the cream until it is reasonably stiff, but do not over-beat it. Cut the strawberries into quarters or small bits and gently stir into the cream. This will stiffen the cream a bit so be careful.

Remove the cold cakes from their tins and place one on a serving plate. Gently spread the cream over the plated cake and position the other cake on top.

For the icing, break up the chocolate and heat it and the cream in a pan over a low heat until the chocolate melts. Remove from the heat and whisk until smooth, glossy and thickened. Set aside to cool for 1-2 hours, or until thick enough to spread.

Carefully spread the icing over the top and sides of the cake and decorate with a few more strawberries.


Trout is very easy to cook and is an excellent source of the Omega-3 oils which are known to promote healthy ageing by reducing the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

This pan-fried trout with peas & baby broad beans is best garnished with parsley

Serves 4

  • 4 rainbow trout fillets
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 150g (5½oz) butter
  • 110g (4oz) peas
  • 110g (4oz) baby broad beans
  • 125g (4½oz) shallots, chopped
  • A handful of fresh parsley, chopped
  • Juice of 1 lemon

Season the trout fillets, heat 50g of the butter in a frying pan and fry the fish, skin-side down, for 2-3 minutes. When the skin is crisp and golden brown, turn the fillets over and fry for another minute or so until the fish is cooked through. 

Remove the fish and keep warm. Add another spoon of the butter to the pan and tip in the peas and baby broad beans. Pour over just enough boiling water to cover the beans, return to the boil and simmer for 1-2 minutes until tender. Drain and set aside.

 Add some more butter and the shallots to the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes until the shallots have softened and are golden brown and the butter has darkened. Return the beans, peas, half the parsley and the lemon juice to the pan and stir. 

Season to taste. Plate up the warm trout fillets and ladle over the pea and bean mixture. Garnish with the remaining parsley, if you like.

Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

This refreshing lemon syllabub is best served with berries on top, or almond biscuits on the side 


For the 18th century aristocracy, serving a syllabub demonstrated that one was à la mode.

Serves 4

  • 284ml (10fl oz) whipping cream
  • 60g (2¼oz) caster sugar
  • 60ml (2¼fl oz) white wine
  • Zest and juice of ½ or 1 lemon (depending on how juicy it is)

Whip the cream and sugar together until soft peaks form. Stir in the wine and the lemon zest and juice to taste. Spoon into glasses. If you like, you could serve with berries on top, or almond biscuits on the side.

Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

Pictured: Lady Carnarvon and her husband (far right) prepare for a picnic


Serves 4-6

Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

This delicious blackberry upsidedown cake should be left to cool before serving 

For the cake

  • 150g (5½oz) butter
  • 200g (7oz) caster sugar
  • 3 large eggs
  • 150g (5½oz) self-raising flour
  • 30g (1oz) ground almonds

For the topping

  • 50g (1¾oz) butter
  • 115g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 350g (12oz) blackberries

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. First make the topping. Stir the butter and sugar in a pan over low heat until melted. Simmer for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. Pour into a greased 25cm-diameter round cake tin and spread over the bottom.

Arrange the blackberries in a single layer on top. For the cake, beat the butter and sugar together until pale and creamy. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Sift the flour into the batter and fold it in, then fold in the almonds.

Gently spoon the batter over the berries and bake for 50 minutes. If the cake starts to brown too much, put foil over the top. Allow to cool in the tin for 10 minutes before turning out.

Cool for another 10 minutes before serving so that the fruit is not still piping hot.

Recipes Lady Carnarvon serves at home at Highclere Castle, the real Downton Abbey

This roast pheasant with smoked bacon is a healthy meal


Pheasant is one of the healthiest meats available – lean, low in fat and high in iron.

Serves 2

  • 1 oven-ready pheasant
  • 1tbsp oil
  • Salt and black pepper
  • 2 slices of dry-cured bacon for covering the breast, plus 80g (3oz), diced
  • 1 small onion, sliced
  • 2 carrots, roughly chopped
  • 1 leek, roughly chopped
  • A sprig of rosemary
  • 1 garlic clove, crushed
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) red wine
  • 100ml (3½fl oz) vegetable, chicken or game stock
  • A small handful of sage leaves, chopped
  • 2 bay leaves

Preheat the oven to 180°C/fan 160°C/gas 4. Brown and seal the pheasant in a hot oiled pan, season and place in an ovenproof dish. Wrap the bacon slices over the top. 

Put the diced bacon, onion, carrots, leek, rosemary and garlic in a pan and sauté for 2-4 minutes. Add the wine, stock, sage and bay leaves. Simmer for 2 minutes, add to the pheasant, cover and bake for 1 hour. 

When tender, remove and let it rest. Strain the liquid into a pan, boil until reduced by half, then serve.

Seasons At Highclere: Gardening, Growing And Cooking Through The Year At The Real Downton Abbey by the Countess of Carnarvon is published by Century on Thursday, £30. © The Countess of Carnarvon 2021. Photos by Paul Winch-Furness. To order a copy for £27 go to mailshop.co.uk/books or call 020 3308 9193. Free UK delivery. Offer valid until 25/09/2021.

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