Saturday, January 16, 2010

A Castle Wedding With An Owl But No Pussycat!

Medieval castles are often used as wedding venues for couples to get married in - they offer history and romance like no other venue can. It's a subject we've covered before with features on the likes of Eastnor Castle, one of the most romantic wedding venues in England. Although not medieval by age, its architecture is 'mock medieval' having been designed by the great architect Robert Smirke.

Well, how's this for a touch of real castle romance ... a video of a couple who got married at Eastnor Castle on New Year's Eve 2009. Watch out for the trained owl who flies down the church aisle to give them their wedding rings. How romantic is that?!

Read about their romantic wedding and enjoy the video.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Medieval Castle Bed Breakfast

There was a fascinating tv series aired recently called "Grand Designs" and one particular episode was dedicated to a 14th century, medieval castle restoration. It told the story of how it had been the dream of an English couple, Francis and Karen Shaw, to one day own and live in a castle. The cameras must have been with them on and off for a long time as it showed what they had initially purchased - just crumbling ruins with no roof and trees growing inside it - through the process of acquiring planning permission for the restoration and then finally to the building works actually taking place with the help of six, specialist stonemasons.

It offered a great insight not only into the difficulties and costs associated with a castle restoration project but also into what the original medieval stonemasons worked with and how they achieved their goals.

Despite setbacks and taking much longer to complete than originally anticipated, Peel castle which stands in a wonderfully secluded and picturesque part of West Yorkshire is now the Shaw's family home. However, in order to cope with their mortgage and the high maintenance costs, the family also offer part of the castle's accommodation as luxury bed and breakfast.

So if you are ever in that part of the world you can enjoy a unique 'medieval' stayover courtesy of the determination of Francis and Karen Shaw to make their dream come true.

Read more on this amazing story of medieval castle restoration.

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Thursday, November 6, 2008

Carlisle Castle - A Medieval & Military Fortress

I recently went with my family to visit Carlisle Castle. What a surprise it was. Almost 900 years of history packed into one place - and what a history! Carlisle Castle has played a role in some of the most colourful and significant periods in British history.

These include:
  • being at the frontline of Anglo-Scottish border warfare for many years including 1315 when it repelled a particularly fierce attack by the Scots

  • acting as a prison for Mary Queen of Scots in 1568

  • being besieged for eight months by Parliament's Scots allies during the English Civil War with its Royalist garrison only surrendering after eating rats and dogs (1645)

  • being the last English fortress ever to suffer a siege - in 1746 during the Jacobite Rising. Bonnie Prince Charlie's garrison of men were unable to hold off the Duke of Cumberland's army only to become prisoners there themselves. Many of them died in the castle.

Taking a tour of the castle was both interesting and enjoyable. The architectural features were very notable as one would imagine of a truly medieval castle and there were some particularly fascinating things such as the stone carvings in the great Keep believed to have been made by prisoners in 1480. I am saving that topic for a more detailed blog with photos later on.

The exhibitions are really well presented with many artefacts on display. Walking around the castle walls offers fantastic views over the city of Carlisle and the wonderful black cannons were really impressive! (See photo) The military history of the castle is reflected in the wonderful Border Regiment & King's Own Royal Border Regimental Museum which is housed within the castle walls and to which you get free entry when you purchase a ticket to tour the castle.

There is so much to Carlisle Castle that a single blog post just can't do it justice!

You have to go there to believe it and if you can't get there then revisit this Blog and where we will be developing further content on what must surely be one of the best medieval fortresses in England, possibly second only to the Tower of London.

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