(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