Helen Carless and Lady Carnarvon
Helen Carless, left, and Lady Carnarvon pictured with the album.

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The 44 large mounted photographs of the house, staff and estate at Highclere Castle in Hampshire, immortalised in the ITV series Downton Abbey as the home of the fictional Earl of Grantham, were due to be offered in the February auction at Lawrences of Crewkerne.

However, after a private treaty sale was arranged before the auction, it will now return to Highclere, which in real life is the home of the Earls of Carnarvon.

The photographs, taken by J. Righton of Newbury, date from 1895 and include portraits of the newly married 5th Earl with his Countess, Almina, as well as a photograph showing the Prince of Wales (later King Edward VII) and other guests as well as the house staff.

Other views show the grounds and the interior, revealing how Highclere was furnished and decorated in the 1890s.

Lady Carnarvon says: “I am thrilled that the photo album is coming home and it’s a very happy resolution orchestrated by Lawrences on behalf of the vendors. We do already have some of the photographs but it will be very interesting to cross-reference the names of the guests and staff in a more complete fashion.”

Lawrences managing director Helen Carless said: “We are delighted to have negotiated the private treaty sale that ensured that the album is now where it should be and all parties are extremely happy with the outcome.”