The socialite who was the inspiration for Downton Abbey’s Lady Cora refused an honour recognising her work caring for the wounded during the First World War. Almina, the 5th Countess of Carnarvon, who trained as a nurse and turned Highclere Castle into a military hospital, apparently did not think she merited the CBE offered in the 1920 Honours List.

Her decision is recorded in Cabinet Office papers obtained by The Mail on Sunday. They reveal she was one of several female aristocrats who declined to be honoured.

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