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The Accidental Duchess: from Farmer's Daughter to Belvoir Castle

The Accidental Duchess: from Farmer's Daughter to Belvoir Castle

From Farmer's Daughter to Belvoir Castle

by Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland
Publication Date: 05/03/2024

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'The Duchess does indeed seem a remarkable woman . . . this is an engaging book' – Lynn Barber, Daily Telegraph

When Emma Watkins, the pony-mad daughter of a Welsh farmer, imagined her future, she imagined following in her mother's footsteps to marry a farmer of her own. But then she fell in love with David Manners, having no idea that he was heir to one of the most senior hereditary titles in the land. When David succeeded his father, Emma found herself the chatelaine of Belvoir Castle, ancestral home of the Dukes of Rutland.

She had to cope with five boisterous children while faced with a vast estate in desperate need of modernization and staff who wanted nothing to change – it was a daunting responsibility. Yet with sound advice from the doyenne of duchesses, Duchess ‘Debo’ of Devonshire, she met each challenge with optimism and gusto, including scaling the castle roof in a storm to unclog a flooding gutter, being caught in her nightdress by mesmerized Texan tourists and disguising herself as a cleaner to watch filming of The Crown. She even took on the castle ghosts . . .

At times the problems she faced seemed insoluble yet, with her unstoppable energy and talent for thinking on the hoof, she won through, inspired by the vision and passion of those Rutland duchesses in whose footsteps she trod, and indeed the redoubtable and resourceful women who forged her, whose homes were not castles but remote farmhouses in the Radnorshire Hills.

Vividly written and bursting with insights, The Accidental Duchess will appeal to everyone who has visited a stately home and wondered what it would be like to one day find yourself not only living there, but in charge of its future.

Social classes
Publication Date:
Pan Macmillan
Country of origin:
United Kingdom
Dimensions (mm):
Emma Manners, Duchess of Rutland

Born Emma Watkins, the Duchess of Rutland is the daughter of a farmer from Knighton, Powys. Today, the Duchess runs the commercial activities of Belvoir Castle, including shooting parties, weddings and a range of furniture.

She has presented on various television programmes, including ITV's Castles, Keeps and Country Homes, and has produced a book about Belvoir Castle. Watkins married David Manners, 11th Duke of Rutland, in 1992. They separated in 2012 but continue to cohabitate. The pair have five children.

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