A castle tour

It was a Bank Holiday in England today (Monday). We were promised heavy rain…… and got drizzle. Perfect time to go visit a castle or two. A bit of drizzle always adds atmosphere.

First stop was Farleigh Hungerford Castle. A ruin now. The towers are still standing and we could see the outline of rooms, as the bottom of the walls remain. The children loved exploring these rooms. They discovered the remains of ovens and a deep, deep well.

We spent time talking to the children about what it would have looked like. The sounds and the smells. Somehow easier to imagine with the ruined castle. No walls to get in the way.

The castle was started in 14th century. It was fortified without the King’s permission and permission had to be applied for retrospectively. Hmm. No change there. The Hungerford family was divided by the Civil War. Our history mad eldest daughter loved hearing the story. So perfect to be telling her in the middle of a castle! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to give all history lessons in such an appropriate spot?

This is described as a ditch, which was part of the castles defences. It is an unusual castle as it is built half way up a hill, rather than at the top for maximum protection.

The castle was occupied for about three hundred years. Bits being added and lost at each generation of the Hungerford family. Eventually it was sold and some of the stones carted off to build a new impressive house, nearby.

Inside the chapel, several of the family members are buried. This is the final resting place of Sir Edward Hungerford and his wife. I find it intriguing that Sir Edward is depicted with a sheaf of corn at his feet. There are lots of ghoulish stories about the family.

The walls of the chapel had interesting decorations.

I’m sure these looked bright and impressive in their day. They have survived amazingly well.

This is the part that my eldest daughter was looking forward to seeing. Down they went, into the crypt.

To see the lead coffins. The lead was applied onto the dead bodies, so that some have amazingly detailed death masks. The smaller ones are baby coffins. So tiny.

Outside the chapel and the crypt was a garden showing the medicine plants that they would have grown. I was impressed at how many the children could name.

This one is an opium poppy. I’m not sure that I have seen one before. We seemed to whizz through the castle and its grounds so quickly. It would have been lovely to spend more time in some areas. We went on to another castle after lunch, but I’ll add that next time. I feel a castle theme developing for this half term week.

6 thoughts on “A castle tour

  • Tuesday 31 May, 2011 at 7:49 am
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    Oh wonderful, wonderful, wonderful… We loved visiting castles in South West England and exploring and plotting and planning how they lived!!! My only problem and I was thinking about it last night – I would never have survived the cold… I would rather have died than lived in these great stone halls with no double glazing and a fire is one thing but eventually you would have to move away from it to collect wood… no I am glad I live in the modern era!!! Looks like you guys had such a fun time and I would love you to show us more castles!!!

    • Tuesday 31 May, 2011 at 8:56 am
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      Oh my! You are feeling the cold at the moment! I’m sure that we would all get used to it. Given time! I think I’d like to cherry pick the good bits of medieval, but keep the benefit of our modern comforts. Another castle coming up soon. Keep warm.

  • Tuesday 31 May, 2011 at 10:41 am
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    Great to have stumbled upon your blog. I spent a wonderful 6 months living in Bristol seventeen years ago, and I miss the castles and medieval history terribly! Must be why I settled in Tennessee…I have often said that if I could replace the old barns here with castle ruins and the cows with sheep, it would look very much like England.

    • Tuesday 31 May, 2011 at 10:24 pm
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      I’m so glad you dropped by! Tennessee sounds like a place that I’d like to visit. Living here, we are surrounded by so much history that I start to take it for granted. It is lovely to see it afresh through my children’s eyes. I hope you get the chance to visit the area again.

  • Tuesday 31 May, 2011 at 9:00 pm
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    What a fabulous day! I would love to have access to a castle, alas we seem to have a shortage here in the U.S.!

    Blessings, Debbie

    • Tuesday 31 May, 2011 at 10:30 pm
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      Oh, I wish you could have joined us! I’ve always found ruins to be a wonderful place to let your imagination run wild. I love imagining what life would have been like. I’m sure that I romanticize it, but it is fun to imagine. Finding a medieval castle in the US really would be a surprise!

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