The Countess visits Downton Abbey’s kitchen as she opens autism school

Yesterday, Sophie, Countess of Wessex visited Oxford to open a new school for autistic children, before heading to Cogges Manor Farm and seeing one of the kitchen’s used in the popular period drama, Downton Abbey.

The Countess is patron of the National Autistic Society, and officially opened the Licensed Victuallers’ School, which offers a supported environment for young students, aged 11-19. The school has been in operation since late 2014.

Sophie, Countess of Wessex visits Cogges Manor Farm. Picture by i-Images
Sophie, Countess of Wessex visits Cogges Manor Farm. Picture by i-Images

The Queen is the school’s patron, and Sophie was there to open it on her mother-in-law’s behalf. The Royal connections for the school do not stop there, as Prince Philip is patron of the Licensed Trade Charity which owns and manages the school.

Given a tour of the school and its extensive facilities, Sophie was shown how LVS are attempting to redress the worrying statistic, that just 15% of autistic adults are in full-time work, through creating well-rounded students who receive psychotherapy, art lessons to help alleviate stress, and are encouraged to take on more responsibility.

To mark the occasion, a plaque was unveiled.

Sophie then hopped aboard the Royal helicopter to Cogges Manor Farm to celebrate the 5th anniversary of the Cogges Heritage Trust.

The trust’s aim is to give visitors an insight into farm life, including how their food goes from the farm to the table. Workshops are also offered on different subject such as food production, local history, horticulture and rural arts and crafts.

The Countess of Wessex was given a tour of the garden, which has been revitalised.

In the kitchen, which was used as Downton Abbey’s Yew Tree Farm, the Countess helped with baking some Welsh cakes, before sampling some of the other goodies that had been created.

Outside, the Royal guest was shown sheep shearing, after which she planted a Oxford beauty apple tree to mark her visit.

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