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Letters to Downton Abbey

As the sixth series of Downton Abbey gets underway, it seems our appetite for stories about the lives and loves of those living and working in the grand houses of the past hasn't abated. But for one woman in Leicester, the stories of the people upstairs and downstairs have a special resonance. When Melissa Lawrence was sorting through her late mother's possessions, she found a series of letters exchanged between her grandmother and a close friend - Ethel North. Ethel was a lady's maid to Lady Winfried Burghclere - a member of the Carnavon family - the true residents of Highclere Castle in Berkshire where Downton is filmed. Jo Hayward went to meet Melissa, who told me the letters paint a vivid picture of the past.

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