I could not let a headache get in the way of a slice of investigative reporting, could I?
And so this morning we trailed off to Highclere Castle, to inspect Downton Abbey- or its location – at close quarters.
I shall skim graciously over the fact that Highclere, unlike The National Trust, English Heritage, The British Museum and countless other institutions, do not allow photographers to snap to their hearts delight inside the castle.
So I shall have to use words to describe the interior, in a post tomorrow morning: screens are still a little challenging today.
But I can bring the exterior – and its stunning gardens – to you this very moment.
Highclere, Downton, what you will – is a Hampshire palace, noted in the Domesday book, initially a site of another of those Winchester Bishop’s palaces which pepper the south of England, owned by the Carnarvon family since 1679.
If it looks like a little bit of Westminster, that will be because Sir Charles Barry remodelled Highclere after he had finished the new Houses of Parliament.
It is extravagant, and flamboyant, with four hundred years of lavish artefacts and stunning portraits, and a stash of Egyptian wonders plundered from the Fifth Earl’s partnership with Howard Carter. The pair, you will remember, discovered Tutankhamun’s tomb.
But most of all, you will recognise the exterior well. As a beloved, if fictional friend.
For this – even on a cloudy British Summer day with a few spots of rain – is Downton Abbey.