What do a Wyoming rancher and “Downton Abbey” have in common?

Posted on January 11, 2013


Highclere Castle: the set of Downton Abbey

Not much, one would think, but this article from Billings Gazette shows a fascinating connection. Downton Abbey is a British period drama about an aristocratic family during WWI. And Paul Wallop runs a cattle ranch in Wyoming.

But, 123 years ago, Oliver Henry Wallop–Paul Wallop’s great-grandfather–left his father, the illustrious Earl of Portsmouth, to brave the wild American west.

He bought the Canyon Ranch at Big Horn in 1889, where Paul Wallop lives today.

Then, Oliver’s older brothers died, and he suddenly found himself the heir of his father’s title. He moved back to Britain.

His grandson, Malcolm Wallop, would later be a U.S. senator from Wyoming. Paul Wallop, who now runs Canyon Ranch, is his son.

And Jean Wallop, Malcolm’s sister, grew up on Wyoming but later moved to England where she married the Earl of Carnarvon. This Earl owned Highclere Castle, where Downton Abbey is filmed today.

Jean is now 77 and a famous figure in England. She lives near Highclere but remains a U.S. citizen and often visits Wyoming. Once, the Billings Gazette reported, she even brought a special visitor:

During at trip to the United States in 1984, Queen Elizabeth stayed with the Wallops in Big Horn. She went out walking at the ranch every day and hoped to see wildlife, but the large contingent of security guards following her everywhere scared the animals off, Paul Wallop said.

One day, the queen put on Jean Wallop’s coat and scarf and slipped out of the house by herself so she could catch a glimpse of the animals.

The article adds that the Wyoming Wallops have visited Highclere Castle several times.

For the full story, click over to the Billings Gazette website.