Sunday, November 2, 2014

Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey

Yesterday I was in my local bookshop and I saw the book, Lady Catherine and the Real Downton Abbey written by Fiona Carnarvon, the Countess of Carnarvon.


Highclere Castle - 2005

I had to buy the book, not just because of my love of the series, but simply because one of my family may be mentioned in the book. Sure enough, the index indicated a hit. Page 82 has a mention of Dick Dawson. So even though the reference to Dick was one sentence in the book it had to become part of my personal collection.

One of Porchey's first decisions was to build up his brood mares and then send his youngsters to be trained by Dick Dawson at Whatcombe, who trained the Aga Khan's horses.......

The horseracing, breeding and training world is full of dreamers and eccentrics, driven men (it is usually men, and certainly was in Porchey's day) whose existence has been overtaken by the hope that one day, one of their horses may win a Grand National, or an Epsom Derby, and become a household name. The sort is full of individualists from all walks of life: thrill-seekers and gamblers, canny businessmen and sportsmen devoted to the turf. p. 82-82

Reading between the lines on page 84 is also a link to Dawson. The author, the Countess of Carnarvon discusses the Newmarket sale of the horse Blenheim to the Aga Khan. Blenheim was sired by Blandford who was owned by Dick Dawson and his brother Sam. Blandford is known in racing circles as one of the greatest sires of all time. Blenheim went on to win the Derby for the Aga Khan being trained by Dick Dawson. (Obituary of R.C. Dawson, London Times, 17 September 1955).

I have some photos taken from images at Highclere in 2005 showing Lord Carnarvon and Dick Dawson but am unsure whether I can produce them here. One is of the two men in front of a plane. Another is a caricature of both men which form part of a much larger number of caricatures.

It's always exciting to add books that have family mentioned in them to add to my collection.