Maple tree planted at 'Downton Abbey' castle in tribute to Canada's founding
Canada's High Commissioner Janice Charette, centre, stands with Lady and Lord Carnavon, the 8th Earl of Carnavon, next to a maple tree planted on the Highclere Castle estate in Highclere, U.K., on Jan. 11, 2018. (Daniele Hamamdjian)
A symbol of Canada is laying down roots at TV’s Downton Abbey, a.k.a. Highclere Castle in Britain, where a maple tree is being planted to honour once-frequent visitor Sir John A. Macdonald for Canada 150.
Janice Charette, the High Commissioner of Canada to the U.K., partnered with the 8th Earl of Carnarvon, who resides at the castle, to plant the maple tree on what would have been Macdonald’s birthday.
“We are concluding our (Canada 150) celebrations at the place where Canada in some ways began,” Charette said in a brief ceremony, standing alongside the Lord and Lady of Carnarvon.
Macdonald was once a frequent guest at the castle, where he worked with the 4th Earl of Carnarvon (and then-secretary of state for the colonies) on the British North America Act that created Canada.
The Canadian High Commission says it struck up a relationship with Highclere Castle’s current owner after learning of the Macdonald connection last year.
The maple tree does not come from Canada, but is meant to symbolically represent the country that can trace its political roots back to the estate.
Highclere Castle hasn’t hosted any country-defining events for quite some time, but it’s perhaps more famous now than at any other point in its history, as the real-world site of the British television show “Downton Abbey.” The fictional Abbey is home to the Earl of Grantham and his family, the Crawleys, as well as their assorted relatives and servants.
The series follows the social dramas that unfold at and around the fictional estate, including its socialite owners’ efforts to keep up with the fast-moving march of modernity.
The series ran for six seasons from 2010-2015, and is rumoured to be up for a feature film revival, meaning that little maple tree just might make an appearance at Downton in the future.
Nerd Alert. flag flies above Highclere Castle, aka #DowntonAbbey, ahead of a ceremony honouring the former man of the house, Lord Carnarvon, who along with Sir John A., stayed here while drafting parts of a little something called the BNA Act. #Canada150 pic.twitter.com/pvhJx67WDs— Daniele Hamamdjian (@DHamamdjian) January 11, 2018
With files from CTV National News London correspondent Daniele Hamamdjian