Berkeley Castle, Castles and Forts Berkeley, Gloucestershire - England where to go, what to see and where to stay in Wales


Berkeley Gloucestershire England
Berkeley Castle is one of the most remarkable buildings in Britain and possibly the most outstanding example of Mediaeval domestic architecture in the country. Where other Castles were romanticised or "modernised" by the Georgians or the Victorians, Berkeley quietly survived as what it is: a Norman fortress with an enclosing curtain wall, built and enlarged through the mediaeval period and beyond into a secure, comfortable, substantial home. Home of the Berkeley Family for 850 Years: The most remarkable thing about the Castle is that for nine centuries, the building, the Berkeley family, the archives (which go back to the 12th Century), the contents, the estate and the town have all survived together. Its place in history is significant, not just because it is still intact, but because the Berkeley family and their home have played an important part in the power struggles of so many centuries. Built for War: The Castle is one of the March Castles, built to keep out the Welsh. It has all the trappings to match: trip steps designed to make the enemy stumble during an assault, arrow slits, murder holes, enormous barred doors, slots where the portcullis once fell, and worn stones where sentries stood guard. It is also a fairytale Castle with its warm pink stone that glows in soft sunset light. Outside, the battlements drop some 60' to the Great Lawn below, but inside the Inner Courtyard, the building is on a human scale, with uneven battlements, small towers, doors and windows of every shape and size. The surrounding land would have been flooded for defence. Where History is a Home: The Family are one of only three families in England who can trace their ancestry from father to son back to Saxon times. English history has been lived out within these walls - and by this family. The Castle is the oldest building in the country to be inhabited by the same family who built it. For centuries, the Berkeleys were close to the throne, able administrators and fighters who supported their king or queen (as long as they could), backed the winning side, and married well. The Castle, naturally enough, is full of stories. The Archives housed in the Castle date back from the earliest part of the 12th Century and number around 20,000 documents, 6,000 of which relate to the mediaeval period. The latter are mainly manorial records which relate to every county in England, excepting two only. Tours: A Unique Tour with Charles Berkeley - Make your visit special, have your own tour of the Castle with Charles Berkeley and let him lead you on a unique tour around his historic home. If you would like to know more about the special tours available please contact us and we will be able to discuss your preferences and requirements. Butterfly House: Within the old walled kitchen garden at Berkeley Castle are the Butterfly House and the Plant Centre. Come and see 42 exotic species from as far afield as Japan and Indonesia fly freely in a tranquil tropical oasis. This is a great chance to see rare species in beautiful surroundings. You can observe their life cycle up-close through the display of caterpillars and chrysalises. The house is also home to the world's largest moth! Facilities: Castle Shop - Tea Rooms, a variety of snacks and light lunches, morning coffee and afternoon tea and homemade cakes - Picnic Area, picnic area by the Butterfly House, in the walled garden - Dogs, Unfortunately dogs are not allowed in the Castle or the grounds, except service dogs - Waste Bins. Access: Disabled Access- This is a Norman Castle retaining many of its original features. As a result, there is unfortunately no wheelchair access and there are steps and uneven floors throughout the Castle and gardens. For those who feel the initial 24 stone steps of the Keep may be unmanageable, a shorter route through the Castle is available, avoiding this flight of steps, but other steps and stairs will need to be negotiated. If in doubt, please ring the main office on 01453 810332 for advice. Childrens Pushchairs and Buggies- There is no access to the Grade 1 listed Castle with children's pushchairs or buggies, because of the many steps and uneven floors. The Guide at the foot of the steps to the Keep will keep an eye on your child's buggy. If in doubt, please ring the main office for advice. No push chairs or buggies are allowed in the Butterfly House.
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