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Duchess of Rutland says running a stately home isn’t ‘all glamour and you’ve got to muck in’

The Duchess of Rutland has insisted running a stately home is not ‘all glamour’ and isn’t ‘for the faint-hearted’ ahead of the release of her new podcast.

Emma Manners, 57, alongside her daughter Lady Violet, 27, is aiming to explore the reality of aristocratic life in 21st century Britain in her new podcast series called Duchess, which will be launched on February 4.

She’s hoping to shine a light on what life is like for the women managing some of Britain’s grandest estates – including her own, the 200-year-old Belvoir Castle, in Leicestershire.

Speaking to People, Emma said: ‘I’m not saying there’s not glamour attached to these lives, but there’s also an enormous amount of hard work and focus and drive and I would say it really wouldn’t be for the faint-hearted.’

Describing how families at the homes often have to ‘muck in’, Emma recalled a moment when she had to go onto the roof in her nightdress and wellington boots to pull out two dead pigeons who were blocking the drain.

Emma Manners, 57, alongside her daughter Lady Violet (pictured together in June 2018), 27, is aiming to explore the reality of aristocratic life in 21st century Britain in her new podcast series called Duchess, which will be launched on February 4

The duchess’ children, Violet and her siblings Alice, 25, Eliza, 23, Charles, 21, and Hugo, 17, also help look after the estate, and spent their time in lockdown tending to Belvoir’s landscaped gardens and clearing fallen wood from its surrounding forests.

Violet said the families behind these stately homes all feel a ‘profound sense of duty’ to preserve them for future generations.

She noted that it stems from the royal family, with the Queen and Kate Middleton being the ‘best examples of that’.

Emma, who grew up on a farm near Cardiff, Wales, has called Belvoir Castle home since her June 1992 wedding to David Manners, the 11th Duke of Rutland.

The property was also used as the setting for Windsor Castle in the first three seasons of The Crown. 

Emma's hoping to shine a light on what life is like for the women managing some of Britain's grandest estates - including her own, the 200-year-old Belvoir Castle (above), in Leicestershire

Emma’s hoping to shine a light on what life is like for the women managing some of Britain’s grandest estates – including her own, the 200-year-old Belvoir Castle (above), in Leicestershire

But in recent months, all of Britain’s stately homes have had to close their doors due to the coronavirus pandemic.

For her podcast, Emma spoke with ten women protecting historic British homes, including Blenheim Palace, the birthplace of Winston Churchill and Scone Palace in Scotland, the crowning place of Scottish kings.

‘It’s been fascinating and absolutely uplifting talking to extraordinary women who somehow make it work despite whatever is put in front of them,’ said Emma.

Violet added: ‘We wanted to approach it from a female lens because so often history has overlooked these incredible matriarchs that have quite literally shaped the fabric of the building and of the family and its history.’ 

Lady Alice Manners, Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland, Lady Eliza Manners and Lady Violet Manners in September 2018

Lady Alice Manners, Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland, Lady Eliza Manners and Lady Violet Manners in September 2018

Belvoir Castle e has formed the backdrop for scenes in Young Victoria in 2007, The Da Vinci Code and season two of hit The Crown – where Matt Smith and Claire Foy filmed in one of the opulent rooms at Belvoir Castle, which stood in for Windsor Castle. 

The 356 room castle is themed around classic opulence dating back to the 1700s when it was first restored, with the bedrooms boasting four poster beds, gold gilded portraits, rich tapestries, fur rugs and fireplaces.

Sparking no expense, the drawing room boasts silk wallpaper, luxurious furnishings and artwork dating back centuries. 

And the opulent interiors don’t stop there, with bathrooms boasting marble tops, dressing tables, intricate wallpaper and the modern touch of his and hers sinks. 

Dinner parties are fit for a king, taking place at tables stretching across a whole hall, surrounded by fireplaces, candelabras and giant portraits of ancestors.

A grand library, complete with oriental carpets, chaise lounges and chandeliers is described in one previous social media post by Emma as her ‘favourite afternoon spot’. 


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