HIGHCLERE Castle held a poignant event to commemorate the end of the First World War, in recognition of its role during the conflict as a hospital.

Lord and Lady Carnarvon invited the public into their home at the beginning of September for a weekend of remembrance including flypasts, vintage cars, a traditional carousel, music and exhibitions, all to raise money for various charities.

Those at Heroes at Highclere could also find out about the castle’s role during the First World War, when it was transformed into a hospital for the wounded.

At just 19-years-old, Lady Almina arrived at Highclere with a large dowry when she married the 5th Earl of Carnarvon and settled into a life as hostess of some of the best parties of the time.

But life changed in August 1914 when war broke out, and Lady Almina rolled up her sleeves to turn Highclere Castle into a surgical hospital with financial support from her father, Alfred Rothschild, admitting patients returning from the trenches.

The Arundel bedroom, which is Lady Edith’s bedroom in the Downton Abbey drama series, set at Highclere, became an operating theatre.

The Countess herself donned a nurse’s uniform and took on the role of matron, hiring 30 nurses and a doctor to support her, appointing the family doctor as medical director.

Eminent surgeons came down to Highclere from London, with the hospital specialising in orthopaedic surgery.

Lady Almina’s idea was to treat the wounded men as house guests with the highest quality care and a taste of luxury, ensuring they slept in the castle’s bedrooms, not the servant’s quarters, so when they woke up they were in beautiful surroundings with stunning views.

She had all the nurses wearing cerise pink uniforms to lift the patients’ spirit and was described by the current Lady Carnarvon as “a modern-day Florence Nightingale”.

The castle has in its archives several hundred thank you letters written to the 5th Countess from her patients and their families, whose lives she helped save during the war when Highclere was a proper working hospital.

Visitors to the castle can view the Arundel bedroom which has again been transformed into a display of the operating theatre, telling the stories of the hundreds of soldiers treated there.

Up to 20 patients could be treated there at a time, with Lady Almina taking a personal interest in their wellbeing and recovery, reading to them, chatting to them and telling them how brave they were.

When the first soldiers arrived in September 1914, she was there to greet them personally, and took the time of sending a telegram to their family to let them know they were safe.

A memorial service was also held at the castle in September, to commemorate the beginning of the end of the First World War, giving recognition to the men who lost their lives at Highclere.