Throughout history and across the world, estates and manors have been erected, inhabited then abandoned or neglected. Even in modern times, the British nobility occupy what is deemed as the most noteworthy estates. At a distance of 70 miles west of London, Highclere set the standard for others to follow beginning from the 12th Century onward. Nearly 75 miles north of London, Althorp follows in this tradition through its inception in the 16th Century continuously to the present day. During the same timeframe, another prominent structure known as Chatsworth stood for five centuries. Unlike Highclere and Althorp, Chatsworth is situated nearly 160 miles north of London.
Most of the estates that persevered through the centuries started as nothing more than monastery land. Those lands became the roots for the palaces and castles of Earls and Dukes. The earliest estate was Highclere mansion owned by the Carnarvon family. This mansion was home to the Fifth Earl of Carnarvon who led the expedition that discovered the Egyptian tomb of King Tutankhamun.
Another vital contribution by an estate originated at the ancestral home of the Spencer family. The estate with the most memorable resident being Althorp where Princess Diana was raised and which serves to commemorate her indomitable legacy. The late Princess of Wales became the mother of the future King of England and a symbol of hope for an entire world of impoverished lives. Her tomb rests on an island surrounded by a bucolic yard, paying homage to the Motte-and-Bailey concept of watery perimeter obstruction combined with an elevated military fortification of antiquity.
The majority of estates have nurtured a cloistered, if not, secluded environment for family and acquaintances alike. In spite of that, these places have garnered the attention of guests who visit and admire the stately accommodations of the international elite, not to mention the expansive countryside. Coincidently, the younger sister of an American president befriended the Duke of Devonshire during a diplomatic stay in England. The ensuing courtship ended tragically when the future Duke was killed while serving in the war. Sadly, Kathleen Kennedy lost her life in an airplane crash only a month after wedding the heir to the Duke of Chatsworth.
These British manors have been sanctuaries to their respective family. Admittedly enough, sanctuaries with sizeable real estate: Highclere includes 5,000 acres, Althorp occupies 14,500 acres, and Chatsworth boasts a modest assortment of plots totaling 35,000 acres. Currently, the manors are open to the public as a centerpiece of national heritage and historic intrigue. Where Earls and Dukes once concerned themselves with gaming, gardening, and gallivanting, the public now indulge to park and museum tours. Others have touched countless more lives on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean as the setting for the televised drama that audiences know as, Downton Abbey.