Country Life Today: Downton Abbey opens its doors to paying guests… for one night only

In today's news round-up, we find out how you can be a guest for a night at Highclere Castle, unveil ten significant buildings at risk and reveal why the National Trust for Scotland is looking for water-squirting volunteers

Lord of the Manor: stay at Downton Abbey for just £150

It’s a once in a lifetime opportunity for Downton Abbey fans — spend a night at Highclere Castle. On November 26, you can stay in one of the main bedrooms, have cocktails in the saloon, dine with the Earl and Countess of Carnavon in the state dining room and, the following morning, enjoy breakfast and a private tour of the grounds, all for a reasonable £150.

However, there’s a catch: you need to persuade the Earl and Countess that you are really passionate about Downton Abbey through a creative message — they will pick the guests that most impress them. Applications to book will open on October 1 through Airbnb, and are only available to the app’s registered users that have good ratings from previous stays.

Full story (Sky News)


Don’t leave them this way

The Victorian Society is shining the spotlight on ten important 19th-century buildings that are at risk of being lost.

Shadwell Park from the east. The wing to the left was designed by Edward Blore and the tower by Samuel Sanders Teulon.

The list includes some real treasures, such as Grade I-listed Shadwell Court (above), a Grade II*-listed colliery and a Grade II*-listed former church.

Full story (Country Life)


Hope for the climate crisis

Scientists believe that if a range of new technologies and social behaviours become more widespread across the world — from solar energy and electric cars to better land management and flexitarian diets — greenhouse gas emissions could be cut in half by 2030.

However, pressure movements across the world have a critical role to play in driving this change.

Full story (The Guardian)


Calling all water-pistol owners

Own a water-pistol? September is the time to put it to good use: the National Trust for Scotland is looking for super soakers to test whether the new protective covering shielding Charles Rennie Mackintosh’s Hill House (below) is truly waterproof.

The Scottish architect’s masterpiece was ‘dissolving like a sugar cube’ under the impact of the elements and the new cover, made of 32.4 million chainmail rings, shields the building while walkways allow visitors to see it from a new perspective.

Full story (Country Life)


On this day … the first Cannes Film Festival was launched

The inaugural edition of the Cannes Film Festival opened its doors on September 20, 1946, seven years after it had originally been meant to launch (the war having put firm stop to the proceedings). Twenty-one countries presented their films, with The Battle of the Rails, which told the story of a group of French railway workers who sabotaged military trains during the German occupation of France, nabbing the International Jury Prize.

However, the most memorable screening was undoubtedly Hitchcock’s Notorious, albeit for all the wrong reasons — the reels were shown in reverse order. The Cannes Film Festival moved to the spring in 1951.


Digital divide is hampering rural areas, say MPs

The inadequate provision of broadband and mobile connectivity in the countryside risks turning rural communities into ‘second-class’ citizens, according to a new report by the House of Commons’ Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee.

Sunset view of a British Mobile Operator Mast over field.

MPs are calling for urgent solutions to bridge the technology gap between town and country.

Full story (Country Life)


Skippers save seal pup

A seal pup that may have accidentally inhaled water was saved by the skippers of a tourist boat off the coast of Northumberland.

The men spotted the troubled two-day old pup off South Scarcar Island and pulled it up on the boat, saving its life.

Full story (BBC)


And finally… why are conservationists burying underwear?

The Surrey Wildlife Trust placed 20 pairs of cotton underpants at different locations on Bonhurst Farm, in Bramley, near Guildford, and checked them after two months to assess the health of the local soil.

The healthier the soil, the less of the lingerie is left because worms, bacteria, fungi and beetles all eat the cotton it is made from.

Full story (Surrey Live)