My Trip to Highclere Castle

Since my very first trip to England back in the 80’s , I have been smitten with the English countryside.   The gardens of England are always in my dreams, and are the inspiration for my garden at our Ann Marie shop.   I have been to England several times since on business but imagine my delight when I won a trip to Highclere Castle, home of the filming of one of my favorite English shows, Downton Abbey.   The trip was sponsored by Heritage Lace, a maker a beautiful Downton Abbey inspired curtains and tablecloths.

Being able to make the trip with my good friend Jan, also an avid Downton Abbey fan, made it all the more special.   We started our tour with an all too brief stop at Oxford. A quick walk around, a great English Hand Pie from the market and we were off to Bampton Village in Oxfordshire where some of the Downton Abbey village scenes were shot.   The village is so quaint with lovely brick houses and window boxes filled with flowers still in bloom.  After a quick visit to the St Mary’s church where 2 weddings, a fair and a funeral had taken place on the series we were off to our last stop; the greatly anticipated main event of Highclere Castle.   As we approached the castle I was in awe of the intricate nature of the façade on the castle. Wandering through the castle I recalled the many scenes from the series and was again inspired by the country life of England.   Elegant but rustic, it brought visions of the history of the castle as I had read about. A real feeling of a home, though in grand style, of course.   I paid special attention to the lace window treatments and tablecloths as we wandered through.   I was excited to go home to market our lovely Downton Abbey Lace Curtains and tabletop wares to our avid customers who also love England.   The grand finale was our lovely High Tea in the carriage house on the grounds. Scones with jam and clotted cream, a lovely piece of raspberry filled sponge and as usual, the best English Tea. A perfect end to a lovely day.

On my arrival home I could not wait to share the experience with my husband and enjoy the pleasures of another English afternoon tea served in our new Coronation Meadow pottery from Burleigh of England.   The pottery is Inspired by HRH The Prince of Wales’s Coronation Meadows project, which aims to establish wildflower meadows across the UK. The “Coronation Meadows” pattern is a celebration of the British countryside. A perfect ending to a perfectly fine English experience.

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Coronation Meadows by Burleigh, England

 

Enjoy these favorite tea-time recipes that have just the right hint of lavender to transport you to the Gardens of Highclere.

Lemon-Lavender Shortbread

Servings: MAKES ABOUT 1 1/2 DOZEN COOKIES

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons fresh or 1 teaspoon dried lavender blossoms, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
  • 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • In a medium bowl, mix the sugar with the chopped lavender and grated lemon zest. Beat in the butter at moderate speed. At low speed, beat in the flour and salt until a soft dough forms. Transfer the dough to a sheet of wax paper and refrigerate for 20 minutes. Form the dough into a 4-inch log and chill for at least 45 minutes longer.
  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Slice the shortbread dough into 1/4-inch-thick rounds and place the rounds on ungreased baking sheets. Freeze the rounds for 10 minutes.
  • Bake the shortbread for 20 to 25 minutes, or until the edges are lightly browned. Transfer the baked shortbread to a wire rack to cool completely.

Make Ahead

The cookie-dough log can be frozen for up to 1 month. Thaw slightly before slicing. The baked shortbread can be stored in an airtight container.

Lavender infused sugar

I love this infused sugar to sprinkle over fresh baked sugar cookies, in my morning tea, or incorporated into my favorite pound cake recipe. It keeps beautifully in an airtight container, and every time I open the lid, I get a waft of lavender essence.watch movie The Lost City of Z now

2 teaspoons fresh, chopped lavender leaves and flowers to 1 cup sugar. Stir the lavender into the sugar and store in an airtight container.

Cheers

Ann Marie