(The Apostles Porch)
Wednesday, 2 December 2015
The dust has settled since we closed our gates to visitors for the season just over a month ago! A massive thank you to everyone involved in making 2015 such a fantastic year – from all our wonderful visitors, school groups and the annual dig, to our brilliant team of staff and volunteers who have such an outstanding knowledge of the Castle & its history and who keep everything ticking along.
I caught up with Operations Manager, Jackie, following the closure of the gates. From great visitor numbers to wonderful TripAdvisor reviews…. Jackie has been absolutely delighted with how successful the open season has been this year.
(The Apostles Porch)
Introducing a more family friendly approach with a whole range of fun activities including jester activity sheets, arts and crafts and a dressing up area was all greatly welcomed by our younger visitors (and even some of the parents!). One of the highlights for the year for Jackie was the Easter Dragons, which proved so popular we will be having them back for four whole days from Good Friday next year. The year saw many other entertainers at Berkeley Castle, including: falconry shows; deer hound racing; battling knights; medieval jesters and beastly Berkeley. But one of the most heart-warming aspects of the job for Jackie is seeing happy visitors wandering through the castle with the appreciation that there really is something for everyone here. Whether that be the aforementioned children’s activities, our historical tours of the castle, a peaceful moment of tranquility in the garden, transporting yourself to a tropical paradise in our butterfly house or a delicious afternoon cream tea in the Yurt…. No matter what age, everyone was able to find their own little slice of Berkeley Castle heaven.
Easter is always the busiest time of the year at Berkeley so it is no surprise that Easter Monday saw our highest ever number of visitors, it is truly lovely to think that families make a trip to Berkeley Castle as an annual event. Often we will hear of several generations having visited the castle & grounds with many past generations also having made the trip all those years ago. For example, one of our lovely visitors left us a note to thank us and said that the purpose of their trip was to bring her children after her first visit some 35 years ago! Jackie has also been overwhelmed with the number of people who have taken the time to write such kind comments on our TripAdvisor page. http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Attraction_Review-g503817-d215314-Reviews-Berkeley_Castle-Berkeley_Cotswolds_England.html
(Jackie & Roland meeting her Royal Highness)
A personal highlight for Jackie was our visit from the Countess of Wessex to open our Hidden Treasures Exhibition. The Countess of Wessex arrived at Berkeley Castle by helicopter, welcomed by the children from Berkeley Primary School on arrival. Charles Berkeley then proceeded to give her Royal Highness Sophie a private tour of the Castle. Castle staff & volunteers then gathered in the Great Hall with a select few able to meet her Royal Highness… and of course a classic British Cream Tea was enjoyed by all. Welcoming her Royal Highness to Berkeley Castle was not only an honour but it was also a privilege to meet such a kind and caring member of the royal family.
(Berkeley Castle Grounds)
After such an exciting year in 2015… You might be asking yourself what you can expect to see next year at Berkeley Castle. Well…. we plan to continue developing the family activities, making sure there is fun for all the family. As well as that we will be putting on a Tudor Festival in May Half Term and also a fantastic performance of the Midsummer Night’s Dream play in celebration of the 400th anniversary of Shakespeare’s death. Did you know that the play was inspired by a Berkeley Family Wedding? As well as weekly activities during the school holidays such as our entertaining jester, archery, arts & crafts and much more… we also have a very exciting surprise lined up for Easter Weekend! But you will have to keep your eyes and ears open to hear what that is… whilst you wait, here is a lovely video to remind you of lots of the happy times at Berkeley Castle from this year!
Berkeley Castle will re-open for Easter Weekend from Friday 25th March to Monday 28th March 2016 and then every Sunday – Wednesday from the 3rd April to 26th October 2016.
Labels: archaeology, architecture, Berkeley Castle, bristol, Castle, Cotswolds, gardens, gloucester, Gloucestershire, Heritage, History, mediaeval, uk castle, visit bristol, visit cotswolds, visit england
Thursday, 5 November 2015
BERKELEY CASTLE WEDDING SHOWCASE
This Sunday we will be hosting our first Wedding Showcase. Providing an opportunity for newly engaged couples to come and see Berkeley Castle for possibly the first time. With Pippa & Immy, our lovely wedding coordinators, on hand to answer all the couple's questions about their wedding day and chat through their plans and ideas so far... the showcase really gives couples an opportunity to learn more about Berkeley Castle Weddings.
To hear more about what is set to be a fabulous event, please have a read of the below....
Friday, 17 April 2015
National Gardening Week- A Chat with Head Gardener Chris Gill
To celebrate National Gardening Week I sat down with our head gardener, Chris Gill, to chat to him about the gardens at Berkeley Castle. Chris has worked his way up to earn himself the position of Head Gardener over 25 years of working the soils of the castle gardens. Stemming from a hobby, and an initial job in the local garden centre, the hobby quickly turned into a passion, and after a stint of learning on the job… Chris was rewarded with the esteemed position of Head Gardener for the Berkeley Castle Estate.
When discussing the parts of the job he enjoys most, Chris comments that it is the variety in his day to day jobs that keeps him happy. He also likes that, on the whole, the job is quite peaceful (apart from the occasional roar of a strimmer) with him being able to manage his own time and escape the normal busy office routine.
An average day will see Chris arrive at work to his first duty of checking on the seedlings and keeping an eye out for any that are ready to be planted. Next on his list is a gardener’s favourite…. watering the grounds, a crucial part of the job in order to keep the gardens hydrated and looking fresh. There’s very much a team spirit work ethic here at Berkeley Castle, and thus Chris spends a fair bit of his time helping out other members of staff in the Butterfly House and with general castle maintenance.
Another key aspect of the job includes the maintenance of the lawns… did you know that it used to take Chris all day to complete the mammoth task of mowing the lower lawns, but now thanks to a fantastic new mower… it takes just two hours! However all of these activities are dictated by the great British weather… and therefore a task he puts on his list to do tomorrow, may not be doable if we have an overnight downpour.
Over the next few weeks there will be many beautiful and interesting species coming into bloom, including the colourful collection of Peonies which have just started to show. We can expect to see the Clianthus with white, pink and red flowers blooming in the Kitchen Garden in the visitor entrance area. Plus, one of our exotic plants, the Caesalpinia, is expected to bloom by the end of the month, and is sure to be a beautiful flower to keep an eye out for on the lower terrace.
Chris comments that the soil in the borders are particularly rich thanks to many centuries of tending, and are especially good to plant in as they drain so well. Back in the 1910’s/ 1920’s you would have expected to see around 30 gardeners working on grounds this size, with the job being much more labour intensive and many more shrubbery borders being cared for.
With eight acres of grounds surrounding the Castle there is an array of different areas to explore, from the wilder woodlands with fresh garlic growing, to the neat boarders on the terraces and the kitchen gardens with individual vegetable patches. There really is such variety to see in the Berkeley Castle Gardens. Plus, since last being open to the public, Chris has been busy planting plenty of exotic bulbs ready to pop up this Spring and Summer, which will be able to be seen in the borders throughout the gardens.
Finally, I asked Chris if he could garden anywhere in the world where would it be? He gave the very modest answer of right here in England…. or perhaps South of France, so the temperature didn’t drop off quite so much in the winter months. Chris trusts that with a little protection from the elements, you can grow plants from nearly every corner of the world and that is enough to keep his garden happy.
Plant Sales & New Gardeners Range in the Shop
We’ve got a fantastic selection of plant sales this year from the brilliant Sunnyside Nurseries and local supplier Chris Pattison. Why not pop along to Berkeley Castle for a little garden inspiration and then visit the Plant Sales Area to spruce up your own garden at home?
We also have a lovely new gardener’s range in the shop, with items varying from muscle soak for those long days spent pruning, dibbers for planting, to quaint seed tins and “Grandad’s Garden” signs.
Berkeley Castle is open every Sunday-Wednesday from 11am to 5pm and looks forward to welcoming you for a visit soon.
Tuesday, 10 March 2015
On Sunday 29th March Berkeley Castle will be hosting a Wedding Viewing Day where prospective Brides & Grooms are invited to come for a viewing of Berkeley Castle and meet our friendly but expert Wedding Planners Pippa & Immy.
We will welcome couples to enjoy a glass of bubbly whilst meandering through the gardens, chat through their wedding ideas and plans and see for themselves the magic that is Berkeley Castle Wedding Venue.
Pippa & Immy are really looking forward to meeting lots of lovely couples on the day, and are praying for some glorious Spring sunshine.
If you would like to book an appointment, or know someone who may, please call 01453 512 999 or email email@example.com.
Thursday, 26 February 2015
A Gorgeous Berkeley Castle Summer Wedding
We were recently sent this brilliant video by Gorgeous Films from Olivia & Patrick's beautiful summer wedding last July. The sun shone, smiles were wide and a delightfully memorable day was had by all.
Guests arrived via a double decker bus and enjoyed a wonderful ceremony in St Mary's church (mere metres from Berkeley Castle!). After the ceremony, the Bride & Groom went for a short drive in their Vintage Car whilst guests meandered over to the Castle Gun Terrace.
Bubbly was expertly poured, canapes were served with a smile and guests enjoyed musical jazz delights on the Terraces under the summer sun.
One of our wonderful recommended florists, Maria at Sorori Design, decorated the Great Hall for the Wedding Breakfast to give a stunningly elegant effect, suiting the wedding day and couple perfectly.
Olivia and Patrick's friends and family dined on a delicious three course meal which was followed by moving speeches and of course finished off with a toast!
Scrumptious cakes created by Jennie at Curtis & Co were served in the Long Drawing Room along with macaroons to complement the serving of Tea & Coffee. In the Small Drawing Room guests relaxed on the comfy furnishings while tucking into the Cheese Tower and sipping on Port.
Whilst guests relaxed and mingled in the Drawing Rooms, the Berkeley Castle team were magically transforming the Great Hall for the evening Reception. Atmospheric lighting was bought in, tables were removed and center pieces decoratively re-positioned. With the DJ and Saxophonist setting up on their own mini stage, the dais, the scene was set.
The Evening Wedding Reception involved much dancing and a serving of Bacon Rolls to keep guest's tummy's full and energy for dancing high. The day finished with a celebratory send off to Blossom Cottage for Olivia & Patrick full of cheers and smiles.
Many many congratulations to Olivia & Patrick, we hope you are continuing to enjoy married life (nearly a year on!).
A massive thank you to Ian from Pear Tree Pictures for all of these truly beautiful photos.
If you're dreaming of a summer wedding, Pippa and Immy our passionate Wedding Coordinators would love to show you around the Castle and talk through your plans and ideas for your big day. Get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the weddings website here.
Tuesday, 17 February 2015
It's only February and we have already had so many highlights to the year- our most recent of which was a visit from the Countryfile TV crew and the wonderful Matt Baker! On Friday the 30th January, Henry Berkeley, Estate Director, Roly Brown, and Deer Park Manager, Rick Coombe had the pleasure of meeting Matt Baker and showing him around various parts of the Berkeley Castle Estate. To start the day he was invited up to the Castle roof where Roly revealed the strategic positioning of Berkeley Castle and the surrounding settings. The roof offers fantastic views across the miles of Berkeley land surrounding the Castle, one sight of which includes Whitcliff Deer Park, which Matt would later visit.
The second stop of the day was to meet Henry Berkeley and visit the Berkeley Kennels & Stables, followed by a trip to The Salutation Inn which has recently been shortlisted for Countryfile's "Rural Pub of the Year Award". After a warming meal and a good old pint at the Sally, the team moved to Whitcliff Deer Park.
Rick Coombe, the Park Manager, invited Matt to get stuck in with the feeding of the deer and go over some basic health checks to ensure they're kept nice and healthy. Unfortunately our deer were not familiar with the cameras and therefore there was some encouragement needed from the crew & Matt for them to show their faces (see how that went during the show!
Selected footage was used in Sunday's episode and we were delighted to hear so many lovely comments following the show- thank you to everyone who tuned in! It was also brilliant to see Gloucester Services and all the wonderful local work they do. Here are some sneaky behind the scenes shots for you to take a look at:
Tuesday, 10 February 2015
After being sworn to secrecy for many months, we are now officially allowed to talk about the fantastic filming for BBC One Period Drama "Wolf Hall" which took place here at Berkeley Castle last year.
The Castle was taken over by the film crew for many weeks whilst they transformed rooms and worked their magic with props and lighting. A lucky few members of staff were able to catch a glimpse of Mark Rylance and Clare Foy acting out scenes, which was a real treat.
Several rooms throughout the castle can be spotted in various Wolf Hall scenes, whilst they also utilized the beautiful Bailey Gates and Inner Bailey. Filming spots included The Great Hall, Kitchens, The Long Drawing Room and the Buttery, the history of which are all discussed when you visit Berkeley Castle and join one of the free informative and very interesting tours.
Come along from April 1st to see if you can recognize parts of the Castle which were used for filming! Walk in the footsteps of the real historic characters... and the actors who played them!
Berkeley Castle will be open from April 1st until April 8th with fantastic Easter activities taking place and then following this will open every Sunday- Wednesday until the end of October.
Find out more about what's going on here:
Wednesday, 28 January 2015
We are so delighted to say that at The British Wedding Awards on the 23rd January 2015 Berkeley Castle was voted The Best UK Wedding Venue!
We are absolutely over the moon and would like to say a massive thank you to all our lovely brides & grooms for voting and making this possible! We feel very honored and proud to have been bestowed such a prestigious award.
Being our first wedding accolade here at Berkeley Castle makes it even more wonderful and special.
Pippa, Wedding & Events Manager, has worked so very hard over the last few years to make weddings not only possible but also a dream come true for all our couples who choose to get married with us.
We have an exciting year ahead and can't wait to continue helping all our Bride's and Groom's have a truly special day.
If you're interested in holding your wedding or special event here at Berkeley Castle please take a look at our dedicated site or get in touch with Pippa or Immy on email@example.com who will be delighted to talk through your wedding or event plans.